Remaking a remade remake.
Aaron Stipkovich: Gone blonde again?
Cameron Diaz: I am. I went in for highlights.
AM: Did you ever imagine you would ever be doing a third "Shrek" movie, and maybe even a number four?
CD: No idea. I had no idea that I would be doing this at all. I had no idea what it was that I would be doing at all--period! I didn't have any clue of the process or even of how to participate in an animated film. I didn't know what the process was, how they made it, and what my part would be until I got there. It has been a learning process all the way through. But I am so excited and so happy that it has gone this far, because of the reasons that it has gotten this far. People have gotten so much out of it, and they want more. So it's good to be a part of that.
AM: What are some of the biggest things you have learned from doing the "Shrek" films?
CD: Well, I have learned to act with a podium and to learn about my character in a different way. In a live action film, you live with the scripts, you spend a lot of time with them, and you read the words of them--how your character fits into the entire story. With this process, it is sort of very isolating. You don't get the script and you don't get the character. I have actually learned a lot about Fiona over doing three movies with her.
AM: What kind of input have you had with your character?
CD: I think the biggest stride in Fiona's evolution as a person was in the first film, which I had nothing to do with. She was in the tower...she was stuck in a tower. When she got out of the tower, you realized, once she was down, she was probably capable of getting out of that tower at any point that she wanted to. [Laughs] If you are following the story, she was just kind of doing what she thought she was supposed to. She was the princess that was going to be rescued. Once she became the ogre, when she accepted herself for who she truly was, which was an ogre, is when she was most empowered. From then on, I think it has been very much that she is this rock. She is a steady line, an anchor, and she understands herself. She accepts herself, she is even proud of herself, and so she has always been the anchor that holds together all of these kooky characters--this tribe called Shrek--that goes around her. She is the straight man in the comedy. She keeps going forward. What I realized is that once they got married, there was a little bit of...I don't know the men who were writing this, but there was a little bit of a nag happening. It was like, guys, just because she got married it doesn't mean she has to become a nag. [Laughs] It was one of those moments. I think that this is a partnership where the two of them need to understand. She has to understand that what he is going through is really difficult as well--that he is an ogre in the kingdom. He has a lot of responsibility for him, and he can't step up every single time. So we kind of walked that line for a second, but they all got it and they were like, "Yeah, you are right." Not to fluff my own feathers or anything, but that is the one thing that I added. [Laughs]
AM: It must be fun and a bit weird to have conversations about a cartoon character.
CD: Yeah, it is, but it is a character to me. Fiona is somebody who I really respect. I respect her, I want to protect her, and I think of her in that way, even though she is an animated character.
AM: At this point in your career, do you feel like a household name type of movie star, like Julia Roberts or Denzel Washington? If so, do you think that comes through in Fiona's voice and attitude?
CD: I don't know. Yeah, I think Fiona is part of my screen persona. Rather than me putting myself through her, I think she comes through me in a weird way. She is one of those characters that I have played that when people think of me, they think of Fiona. It's not the other way around, and I think that is a testimony to just how great this franchise and these films are. I think that probably goes across the board for all of the actors in this film. You think of Puss 'n Boots and you think of Antonio Banderas. It is an interesting thing in that way now. I think that it is appropriate that there is a place for animation. The animators are the actors in these movies. I have seen it where they are not fully animated, and as the progression goes, what you see is you think, "Oh, that looks really good." No matter what I do with my voice, it is not going to be emoted or reach the audience the same way until they have done all the animation. Fiona and Shrek look at each other and it is not fully animated and the moment isn't there. Then, when it is fully animated, you go, "Oh, my God. That is so touching," and it is because they have acted--the animators have fully realized that moment. They have created it with these two characters, and they have animated it, so really they are the actors. I think it is totally appropriate. I could not take any credit for the acting done. They are creating the moment with the animation.
AM: Do you think that the actors take more chances with their characters because it's an animated film?
Cameron Diaz and Samuel L. Jackson
Cameron Diaz and Samuel L. Jackson, the top box office earners as of year-end, 2012. | Photo: |
CD: Yeah, because the face isn't on it. If you saw Antonio Banderas in a live action film being Puss 'n Boots, you would be like, "What the hell?" But as an animated cat with big boots, you go, "Oh yeah, of course!" You don't get so wrapped up in it. Yes, there is a liberty that we can take, and it's liberating to be behind this thing. You can make a stupid crazy face that you [otherwise] couldn't. I mean, the things that I have done to figure out the moment--you know what I mean? I don't want people to ever see it. I mean, we are doing it at a moment where we don't get to see the animation. The world hasn't been created around us, and it will never be. So we can't look at it and go, "Oh, that is what Far, Far, Away looks like." I never saw what Far, Far, Away looked like until the second film was finished. I said, "Oh, that's what it looks like?" and they explained it, but you don't really get the idea. You don't get what the community feels like when they are walking down the street--the whole thing. You have to imagine it, and that is a part that I enjoy. You can say a line 20 different ways.
AM: You must get really stressed at these moments.
CD: The good thing, too, is that if you don't in one session, you can always go back because, thank God, there is re-dubbing. [Laughs]
AM: Do you do a lot of re-dubbing?
CD: I have never done any, but I have changed a line. I've come in and they have been like, "We are changing this." They have animated it, and then they decide to change the story and they feel like, "Hmm, that didn't work." So I have gone in and redone the lines to send it in another direction, and then they just reanimate it.
AM: When you were making movies like "Charlie's Angels", you talked about being more selective about the films you wanted to do. Still feel the same way?
CD: I want to work. I love working, I love making movies, and it is one of my greatest joys. But I don't want to make a movie to just make a movie.
AM: Do you know what your next film is going to be?
CD: I have, but it's not totally done yet.
AM: You said you like to spend time in Los Angeles when everyone is gone, like Christmas. Well, summertime is right around the corner, but most folks don't leave LA during summer. So are you planning to take a vacation and leave the city for a while?
CD: I don't know. If I am working, it will change everything.
AM: But this might be the summer that it goes?
AM: So, have they told all you ogres, fairies, kings and queens when to report for work for "Shrek the Fourth"?
CD: No, I have no idea.