May 21, 2010 / 6:33 PM / 7 years ago

"Shrek" gives fairy tale break to backroom artist

3 Min Read

<p>Character 'Shrek' waits during ceremonies to unveil its star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood May 20, 2010.Fred Prouser</p>

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Sometimes fairy tales do come true. And where better than Hollywood and "Shrek"?

Walt Dohrn, who normally works behind the scenes on the blockbuster movie franchise, has had a magical change in fortune that only the wily Rumpelstiltskin could pull off.

In "Shrek Forever After," which opens on Friday, Dohrn was thrust from his day job at DreamWorks Animation to voice the trickster villain, Rumpelstiltskin -- one of the lead characters in the latest, fourth film.

"We found that his voice was just irreplaceable, it was so funny and so engaging," said director Mike Mitchell.

As head of story at the movie studio, Dohrn's regular job is to shuttle back and forth between "Shrek" writers and animators. He works with artists to start them on the right track animating each scene, so that it matches with the story as a whole.

But after reading lines for the so-called "scratch track" opposite superstars Mike Myers (Shrek) and Cameron Diaz (Princess Fiona), the normally-reserved Dohrn won the part of new character Rumpelstiltskin.

When animators learned of the surprise casting decision they stood up and cheered, Mitchell said.

Rumpelstiltskin is a pint-sized, black magic dealmaker who strikes a bargain with Shrek that gives him control of the fairy tale world they inhabit. Shrek must fight to overthrow Rumpelstiltskin, and win back the love of his life, Fiona.

Dohrn who has worked at DreamWorks Animation for eight years and spent most of that time on the studio's "Shrek" franchise, says he had mixed emotions about his new job.

"I thought, 'Oh my gosh, I have to really step outside my skill set and I have to step outside my dark little room and really put myself out there,'" Dohrn told Reuters.

Dohrn said he borrowed from a wide range of sources, taking the fast-talking drive of Sean Penn in 1985 film "The Falcon and the Snowman" and infusing the conniving sweetness of a child murderess in 1956 movie "The Bad Seed."

The New York Daily News said Dohrn "steals every scene." But the Orlando Sentinel wondered why DreamWorks handed a pivotal character in a "billion dollar franchise to a voice with no menace or personality."

For his part, Oscar-nominated actor Eddie Murphy, who plays Donkey in the "Shrek" movies, was impressed. Murphy said he did not know Dohrn was cast, until he saw the film's final cut.

"I was blown away by it, I tripped out," he said.

Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Jill Serjeant

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