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Shrek 2 - Stars turn out for Cannes premiere

Story by: Jack Foley

THE stars of Shrek 2 were out in force at Cannes over the weekend, when the sequel played to considerable acclaim.

The eagerly-anticipated follow-up is due to open in US cinemas on Wednesday, May 19, 2004, but is also appearing in competition at the showpiece European festival and could well be a serious contender for the prestigious Palme d’Or.

But its stars played down its chances of success, content merely to soak up the atmosphere and milk the acclaim for a sequel which is being hailed as better than its predecessor.

Indeed, the film’s executive producer, Jeffrey Katzenberg, who is one of the heads of the DreamWorks studio backing the film, insisted that just being in the festival was ‘in itself a win’.

The first Shrek movie also played in competition at Cannes, in 2001.

The sequel picks up where the original left off, following the marriage of Shrek, voiced by Mike Myers, to Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) - with their talking donkey sidekick (Eddie Murphy) steadfastly at their sides.

However, their predicament this time around, finds them visiting Fiona’s parents for the first time - who, quite naturally, disapprove of their daughter’s union with an ogre.

The parents in question are voiced by Julie Andrews and John Cleese.

Andrews, who remains best-known for the popular family movies, Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music, leapt at the chance of appearing in the sequel, even though she confessed to finding it hard to adapt to making a modern animated movie.

"The worst thing is to be alone because, normally [in other films], you get to work with each other and bounce off each other," she explained. "But in this case, you're mostly in the sound booth by yourself."

Of the other new characters, Jennnifer Saunders crops up as the fairytale godmother, while Desperado star, Antonio Banderas, portrays the ruthless Puss in Boots.

He said the process of providing the voice for the feline character had helped him to feel ‘free’ to create the character, and he had been pleasantly surprised by how much input he was allowed to have.

As a result, Banderas is spoofing everything, including himself, in Zorro, without parodying it cheaply.

Another of the film’s main stars, Cameron Diaz, also hailed the ‘fun’ she had in making it, because she could go into the booth and make ‘faces that will never be seen’, without the need to spend hours in make-up.

She went on to discuss her character’s development in the film, during which she is forced to choose between her beloved ogre, and a swish prince charming.

"Her prince charming is Shrek, because she loves who he is on the inside," she told a press conference. "You can't judge somebody by their shell - it's about the contents inside."

The actress, who is dating singer, Justin Timberlake, in real-life, went on to describe her ‘ideal prince charming’ as ‘whoever that special person is on the inside’, who also had the ability to make her laugh.

More sequels on the way…

Fans of the Shrek series have been promised more movies if, as expected, the sequel becomes a huge hit.

Speaking at the same press event, Katzenberg revealed that there are actually four chapters to the Shrek story, ‘so, assuming number two is successful, we can continue on to do all four’.

Shrek 3 has already been pencilled in for a release in 2006, but a possible fourth instalment is a very realistic possibility, which would .explain the history of the eponymous hero.

Added Katzenberg: "We will understand how Shrek came to be in that swamp when we met him in the first movie."

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