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The Surprising Origin Behind Shrek's Scottish Accent

In a world of traditional animated fairy tales, "Shrek" shook up the status quo by introducing audiences to a grotesque ogre whose goal wasn't to save the princess, but rather to deliver her safely to her betrothed in the hopes of getting his swamp back. This conventional fairy tale premise, flipped on its head, resulted in one of the most popular animated franchises of all time. "Shrek" debuted to critical acclaim in 2001 and went on to gross over $484 million in theaters (via Box Office Mojo). To date, the franchise has raked in over $3.5 billion at the box office (via The Numbers).

"Shrek" spent nearly a decade in the oven, going through various stages of development before it finally arrived in 2001. While discussing the film's enduring legacy as both a movie and meme, Slate's Rachelle Hampton described how the world's most popular ogre made it to the big screen. "It was this kind of anti-Disney movie poking fun at the eternal franchising of successful properties and these overused tropes," Hampton discussed. "I don't know how many people know about the kind of development hell that Shrek was in for so long. I think it started to be produced around 1993, 1994."

During the various stages of development, the character of Shrek went through numerous changes. And one of those changes resulted in a popular bit of Hollywood lore — the story of how Shrek (Mike Myers) came to have his now-iconic Scottish accent — that has been blown out of proportion on the internet. Luckily, Myers cleared things up during a career retrospective.

Shrek originally had a Canadian accent

A popular rumor has suggested that DreamWorks, the studio behind "Shrek," spent millions to re-record Mike Myers' lines, which were originally done in a Canadian accent. Dissatisfied with the rough cut of the animated film, Myers decided to try a Scottish accent, which allegedly forced the animation team to reanimate a decent chunk of the film, ballooning costs (via Legends Revealed).

In a 2022 career retrospective with Vanity Fair, Myers addressed the rumor, revealing that there is validity to him changing his accent. "I always thought that ogres were working people, growing up as a working person, so I tried it as a Canadian. And it just didn't have any 'oomph', then I said, 'Can I record it again as Scottish?'" Myers revealed.

The Canadian star continued by discussing how Steven Spielberg, one of the film's producers, later approved the accent change. Myers then addressed the rumors about the impact of his swapped voiceover work, saying, "They spent some money, but not the amount of money that has been reported in the press ... And, by the way, I recorded it all for free one more time and [I was] just happy to do so because I wanted it to be good."

The creative decision clearly proved to be a success as the oddity of a Scottish ogre amongst mostly American accents stood out, resulting in hilarity. The success of "Shrek" knows no bounds as the franchise is set to return with a fifth entry and an upcoming second "Puss in Boots" spin-off movie.