Imagine a world in which Shrek, the titular ogre in the beloved DreamWorks film, boasted a Canadian accent. Okay, it’s not too far-fetched given Mike Myers hails from the Canadian province Ontario. But at this point the titular ogre is as synonymous with his vaguely Scottish accent as he is with his tiny brown vest. In a Vanity Fair video, Myers revisited a trio of his most iconic roles—including the grumpy green icon. Shrek’s Canadian origins isn’t necessarily new. But the actor opened up about the accent and revealed how passionate he was about fighting for the change.
After watching a scene pertaining to the start of Donkey and Shrek’s beautiful friendship, Myers opened up about recording the ogre as Canadian. The actor thought the voice was missing something but the DreamWorks bosses actually liked the Canadian Shrek. As such, the DreamWorks bosses were hesitant when he asked to re-record his dialogue in a Scottish accent. That is, until Steven Spielberg—one of DreamWorks’ co-founders—let him try it. And thus the Classic Shrek entered the picture.
As Myers puts it, fairy tales are, beneath the magic and creatures, about the class system. Coupled with the Eurocentric nature of fairy tales—characters from Grimm, Perrault, and Anderson tales are sprinkled throughout Shrek—the Canadian accent just didn’t have the “oomph” he was looking for. Myers, who is of Scottish heritage, suggested a Scottish accent as he said, “It’s a working people accent.” The actor noted that as someone who grew up working class he felt that Shrek, an ogre, is more of a working class being. And the accent is certainly a contrast to John Lithgow’s grating posh English accent for Lord Farquaad.
Myers added that it did cost a bit more to re-record the dialogue. But he specifically pointed out two things: One, the number reported in the press is wildly off base. And two, Myers re-recorded the dialogue for free because he was passionate about getting it right. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean the accent is a flawless representation of a Scottish accent.
Shrek’s finalized brogue fits in with the overall vibe more than he might’ve with an Ontario accent. Still, I can’t help but wonder what would’ve happened if he tried a different Canadian accent, like Newfoundland. But we’ll always have this iconic Shrek performance.