For years, Shrek was considered the ugly stepchild of the DreamWorks empire.
The way director Andrew Adamson saw it, company co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg “was going through his ‘I want to make serious animation for adults,'” Adamson recently told Inverse. And the flatulent, anti-social, cantankerous AF ogre didn’t exactly fit the bill. “This was sort of a bastard child,” Adamson continued. “It was the island of misfit toys to a large degree. Everyone who didn’t work out on another project got sent onto Shrek.”
Agreed editor Sim Evan-Jones, “There was always a little bit of a rebel spirit about the Shrek gang. There was a shared empathy that everyone wanted to do things in an unconventional way.”
So they kept plugging away, writing their crude jokes and perfecting their computer-generated animation. And when Katzenberg saw the finished project—in which a repugnant ogre joins a wise-cracking donkey on a quest to save a princess in a send-up of every animated movie that came before it—he was a believer.
“We had one screening where we’d scored something really high,” Adamson recalled. “And I remember Jeffrey saying to me afterward, ‘Get ready for this. This may only happen once in your life.'”