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Who Plays The Fairy Godmother In Shrek 2?

Say what you will about the "Shrek" series, but it certainly has staying power. 20 years after the premiere of the first installment, even with the novelty of the movies' fairytale-shredding conceit and pop culture oversaturation having long worn off, we still watch and talk about them nearly as often as we did when they were fresh news. And, with a possible reboot in the works, it won't be surprising if this decade brings about a whole new wave of Shrek-mania.

One thing that explains why "Shrek" is still so popular is that, even if you strip away all the now-dated references and painfully 2000s humor, the movies are still, at their core, wildly inventive and witty endeavors, with more comedic ideas per scene than your average family film will serve up in 90 minutes. Several elements of the first two "Shrek" movies, particularly, still hold up well enough to get touted every other day on Twitter by a Gen Z-er discovering them for the first time. And foremost among those elements is the Fairy Godmother of "Shrek 2."

The movie's de-facto villain, the Fairy Godmother is the epitome of what the "Shrek" franchise has it in for when it comes to sending up traditional fairytales. She's an abject, ruthless enforcer of retrograde ideas about beauty and belonging, who will stop at nothing to ensure her son Prince Charming becomes the ruler of Far Far Away. And, as it happens, she's also an absolute hoot — which is due as much to the writing as to the brilliant voice actress who plays her.

British comedienne Jennifer Saunders voiced the Fairy Godmother

To fill out most of its main cast, the "Shrek" films had a way of springing for superstar actors — Mike Meyers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, and Antonio Banderas all get top billing in "Shrek 2," and subsequent installments would add the likes of Justin Timberlake and Amy Poehler. The role of the Fairy Godmother, however, was given to a beloved British actress whose name wasn't exactly synonymous with box office gold in North America.

And that's a good thing, too, because nobody could have played the role better than Jennifer Saunders. Known primarily for co-creating and starring in the eighties sketch comedy show "French and Saunders" and its spin-off sitcom "Absolutely Fabulous," Saunders is a legend of the small screen in the UK, as well as one of the country's most dependable comedians and entertainers. A 2005 "Reader's Digest" poll of 4000 women elected her as Britain's fourth-funniest woman (via Digital Spy).

It's no coincidence that she was given that title so soon after "Shrek 2" — the role of the Fairy Godmother requires Saunders to do everything from scoring guffaws to projecting menace to belting out "Holding Out for a Hero," and she pulls it all off with aplomb. It's a truly impressive performance that won her a well-deserved People's Choice Award for Favorite Movie Villain (via IMDb), not to mention an even higher honor, via Metro: having her singing complimented by Julie Andrews.