Not counting an unbilled cameo in the Norm Macdonald vehicle Dirty Work, Chris Farley’s last movie credit is the Western comedy Almost Heroes (1998) with Matthew Perry. But he technically had one more movie in the can at the time of his death, and it would become one of the biggest animated movies of all time.
Farley was originally cast as the titular green ogre in the 2001 blockbuster Shrek, and, according to his brother, Kevin Farley, Chris had recorded nearly all of his character’s dialogue before he died of a drug overdose in 1997. The late Saturday Night Live alum’s version of Shrek would have been markedly different from the one we all know.
“Originally the Shrek character was a little bit more like Chris, like a humble, bumbling innocent guy,” said Kevin Farley, who appears in and executive-produced the new documentary about the life and career of his brother, I Am Chris Farley.
The role, of course, ultimately went to Chris’s SNL co-star Mike Myers, who, among other touches, gave Shrek a distinctive Scottish brogue. “I understand why [they replaced him],” Kevin said when asked it if was disappointing for the Farley family when they couldn’t salvage Chris’s original recordings. “They probably wanted to make Shrek 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, so…” (So far they’ve made four of those, and a fifth one is likely, according to DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg.)
Kevin said he’s never gotten to hear the audio Chris taped for Shrek, which hasn’t released publicly. And it’s clear he doesn’t harbor any ill feelings for the DreamWorks’ decision to recast the role. “The studio needed to do what they needed to do. It was a bad time, bad timing… a tragedy. Mike did a great job with Shrek. He knocked it out of the park.”
I Am Chris Farley opens in theaters this weekend before debuting on Spike Aug. 10 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Watch an exclusive clip: