Geeks logo

What Could've Been: Chris Farley's Shrek

Before Mike Myers took on the role of Shrek in the 2000s animated film, Chris Farley was set to play the confused ogre. It almost came to fruition but unforeseen circumstances made that impossible.

By Allie Z.Published 3 months ago 4 min read
Image Copyright: Dreamworks

Until recently, most fans were unaware that the 2000s animated classic Shrek nearly had an entirely different makeup. The movie almost featured another actor in place of Mike Myers, too.

Chris Farley, the comedian/actor best known for his time on Saturday Night Live, was initially slated to play the not-so-jolly green giant before his untimely passing. Farley had nearly completed recording his lines for the movie, getting to the end stages of the film. However, due to being incomplete, it forced Dreamworks to recast the role. Mike Myers replaced him in the part and has been voicing Shrek ever since.

Image Copyright: Dreamworks

Nevertheless, the question of what might have been still lingers in the minds of fans who loved Farley in Tommy Boy, and Black Sheep, and SNL, and everything else he worked on before his death. Fortunately, a peek at Farley with a functioning storyboard from the concept floor leaked some time ago. In it, the actor goes through an entire scene opposite Eddie Murphy—in what seems to be dialogue from the movie, except the clip differs slightly from the theatrical edition.

In the clip, Shrek and Donkey are amidst their midnight conversation following the castle rescue. During their discussion, Donkey presses Shrek to admit he has a heart, which he eventually comes around to. Interestingly, Farley retains a deeper resonance that differs from when Myers says the same lines in the movie. The clip also contains dialogue that provides new information about Shrek's upbringing.

During the heated bits of their talk, Donkey maneuvers the topic toward what is preventing Shrek from expressing his emotions. Donkey eventually gets the green giant to open up, and his companion reveals that his parents lied to him a long time about the world. They convinced Shrek that people love ogres when, in reality, he became vilified for simply existing. Shrek neglects to elaborate further, but the end of their talk uncovers that his goal is to make his parents proud. That could imply they are alive and off elsewhere in fairytale land.

Farley’s Version Of Shrek Had Heart

In any case, the version that Farley crafted would have been a massive departure from the one we saw with Mike Myers. Because, on top of a family dynamic barely touched—that had tons of backstory—the original Shrek possessed the desire to connect with others, too. Such a subplot evolved naturally as the cinematic cut progressed, culminating when Shrek admitted wanting a family. Farley’s incarnation, on the other hand, had aspirations of a fulfilling life much earlier than his successor.

For example, Shrek (Farley) says in the clip that he only wants a home and someone to share it with. That statement, in particular, contradicts the persona established by Shrek (Myers) until the final act when he embraces his found family, so there would probably be more allusions to the lonely nature of Farley's version in a full cut.

Since the alternate Shrek was more emotional, he likely forged a stronger bond with Fiona than Myers' depiction did. The two seemed to have chemistry in the Myers-Diaz coupling, but they'd relate more if both loners came from homes with overprotective parents. The Farley version sounds like he had a complex relationship with his caregivers, similar to the one Fiona shared with her parents, so that, too, may have influenced how they grew so close in such a short time. It's worth noting that Dreamworks presumably had a more lighthearted vision in mind since the final cut skimmed through most of Fiona and Shrek's adventure together in favor of a montage of cute moments. The results were equally funny and entertaining, but their talks lacked the same depth Farley gave in his monologues.

Differeneces Between The Two Versions

Image Copyright: Dreamworks

Shrek’s home is also distinctly different in the Farley version, changing the story a bit. Dialogue reveals that the deal he struck with Lord Farquad was for a plot of land—one unbeknownst to him. That implies he lived as a drifter prior to making a deal with Farquad unlike the Myers' version who lives mostly undisturbed in a swamp. Where Shrek calls home holds little significance, but considering how much harder life is running all the time, bargaining for a place of his own has higher stakes.

Similarly, the prospect of Shrek not having a home put him in villager crosshairs. The experience would seemingly look different from the humorous exchange Shrek has with hunters in the first movie, assuming the attempted attacks came closer to succeeding. Perhaps the version voiced by Farley learned to fear people as soon as he left home. In which case, subsequent encounters with pitchfork-wielding villagers broke down the sheltered vision Shrek held before going out into the real world. A shock of that kind is going to place anyone—even an intimidating ogre—into flight or fight mode. As such, this sets up a scared, frightened Shrek, very different from the one we received in the theatrical cut.

Differences aside, the Farley Cut is another unreleased project that the masses deserve to see. Even if the film never got to the animation stage of production, a storyboard like the one released would be worth watching alongside the audio recording of Farley and Murphy. Who knows, it might have answered long-standing questions like where Shrek’s parents were during his adventures, what happened to them, how he settled a plot of land in the middle of an occupied kingdom, and so on. All those subplots contain more profound emotional themes, which likely put a different spin on the finished product. Perhaps it gave off the tone of a film akin to Inside Out, which moviegoing audiences of the time weren't ready for. Hence, Dreamworks shifted focus to the comedy aspect over a simple fairytale retelling.

pop cultureentertainment

About the Creator

Allie Z.

I cover most entertainment related topics and am venturing into journalism.

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights

Comments (1)

Sign in to comment
  • Andrea Corwin 3 months ago

    Very interesting, thanks for sharing. Maybe they will let people see the Farley version.

Find us on social media

Miscellaneous links

  • Explore
  • Contact
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • Support

© 2024 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.