Friday, March 7, 2008

Shrek 2

In Shrek 2, screen legend Julie Andrews lends her voice to Queen Lillian. Andrews is already a pro at portraying royalty, this being her third role as queen. Lillian is the voice of reason for the scattered King Harold (John Cleese). While Harold is reluctant to accept his daughter's choice to take an Ogre for a husband and also to become an Ogre herself, Lillian understands. She has her reasons.

Shrek 2 marks the first time Andrews has done a voice for a fully animated feature. "It's a bit different. I've done, in my extreme youth, I re-dubbed a Czechoslovakian animated film, but mostly singing, not speaking. It came and disappeared so rapidly, I don't even know that there is a copy of it anywhere. And I did a couple of sort of tiny voices of [Mary] Poppins, believe it or not. But, nothing like this, nothing at all. It's three or four days work, yes. That's all it is. It's unbelievable. And you have no idea whether you are hitting a bulls-eye or whether you're wide of the mark and they ask you to give tons of variations on phrasing and how you say it. 'Say it sternly, say it sadly, say it this,' and then they pick what they want. It's truly a director's medium in that respect. "

Although most of the voice talent in Shrek 2 work alone, Andrews did get the chance to work one day with her King, John Cleese. It was also her first time meeting Cleese. "I had one day with him, which was great. And then two other days when he wasn't there, but the day with John was great."

Since there is nothing to act against in animation, no backgrounds, props, and, for the most part, other actors, Andrews discusses the process: "Well, they'd show you a storyline, they'd show you pictures of the storyboard, they have it all up and they run you through it. 'We think the queen is such and such and such and such.' The very first day I met everybody I started to put some lines down, and I kept thinking, 'But how can I? I haven't worked on anything. I don't know what I'm saying?' But, you literally fly by the seat of your pants in a way. You just go for it and you trust that they know what they're doing and it seems they do."
"I think more the challenge was what appealed to me. Jeffrey Katzenberg said, 'Would [you] care to be the queen?' I said, 'Another queen?' They said, 'Yeah, but it's different and I think you'll love it' and I said, 'Okay, I'm for it.' Especially with seven grandkids. I'm in with my grandchildren. [Queen Lillian's] so, when I saw this Shrek the other night, I kept thinking, 'I guess that's my voice.' She doesn't look like me, but he doesn't look like John Cleese and certainly Shrek isn't like Mike Myers in that respect. But, it's okay. It's kind of interesting. But yes, I'm very pleased to be part of it, I really am."

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