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Mike Myers explains how Shrek made a cameo on Netflix's 'The Pentaverate'
We're pretty sure the phrase "Shrek technician" has never been used until now.
But here we are, more than 20 years later — still enamored with the green ogre, his subverted fairy tale universe, and the Smash Mouth songs that helped turn the animated DreamWorks character into a pop culture icon. Seemingly aware of the omnipresent nature of the "Shrek is love, Shrek is life" ethos shared among fans, Myers decided to wink at the audience in his new comedy series for Netflix, The Pentaverate, by including a brief cameo from the green swamp-dweller famous for his thick Scottish accent and friendship with a talking donkey.
There was much ado about Myers harkening back to his prosthetic-heavy Austin Powers days with a total of eight different roles in this show, which centers around a clandestine society that has benevolently shaped world policy since the time of the Black Plague. What Netflix failed to mention, however, is that the creator/star/writer/showrunner actually plays nine characters — including Shrek, who shows up in Episode 4.
On a mission to retrieve the parce claven before it can fall into the wrong hands, undercover Canadian journalist Ken Scarborough (Myers) and Exalted Pikeman Higgins (Richard McCabe) of the Liechtenstein Guard travel to the European city of Dubrovnik, whose citizens celebrate an annual holiday in which they "offer their nets of regrets to the Ogre of Dubrovnik for absolution," explains Higgins.
The duo is pursued by Bigfoot, whom the townsfolk mistake for their patron saint. The Missing Link nearly tears into Ken when a protective (and eerily familiar) green hand suddenly lands on his chest.
"I've got this one, laddie," states the hulking newcomer, his thick Scottish brogue unmistakable. "I'm the real Ogre of Dubrovnik." He demands that Bigfoot "get out of my swamp!" and head-butts the hairy cryptid into submission as the townsfolk rejoice and Smash Mouth's cover of "I'm a Believer" comes on the soundtrack.
And just like that, Shrek (brought to life via voiceover dialogue and a man in a theme park-style costume) enters The Mike Myers Multiverse of Madness. According to Myers himself, the idea to bring the fan-favorite character into the world of The Pentaverate started off as "a whimsical, silly idea" that was nurtured along by series director, Tim Kirkby (Veep, Fleabag).
"I just said, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if [Ken] ran into Shrek?’ And he went, ‘Yes! We have to make it happen, man.’ And I said, ‘You don’t think it’s gonna be too...?’ He goes, ‘No, it’s perfect, man. It’s perfect,’" Myers tells SYFY WIRE.
"So I called up [DreamWorks co-founder] Jeffrey Katzenberg and I said, ‘Jeffrey, how would it be if Shrek was in the [show]?’ He goes, ‘Great, done. Love it.’ I said, ‘That was easy. Thank you, Jeffrey.’ They sent a Shrek guy. A Shrek technician came by and it’s surreal, dude. I have to tell you, this whole show was kind of like a fever dream. But yeah, it was unbelievable. Everybody said 'yes' and I think that’s kind of the spirit of the show, is everybody said 'yes.' It was great."
A cheeky, self-aware attitude lies at the heart of the series, which constantly breaks the fourth wall, acknowledging itself and the careers of the talented people who star in it.
"I think movie comedies took themselves very seriously in a weird way," Myers explains. "What I love about where we’re at with the culture now is it is very meta. It is very, ‘Who are we kidding? We know that these other things have existed in everybody’s life before.’ It’s very freeing and liberating and somebody like Tim Kirkby’s like, ‘Yeah, man, I love it. It’s all part of the stew, man!’"
That commitment to letting loose, and being able to laugh at one's self, extends to the opening narration provided by none other than Academy Award-winner Jeremy Irons. The Watchmen and Reversal of Fortune star becomes increasingly more irate with each episode, constantly railing against the streaming option to breeze past the intro with the click of a button (James Gunn also played around with those expectations while making HBO Max's Peacemaker).
"Jeremy Irons was one of my most favorite hosts when I was on Saturday Night Live," Myers said. "What I knew about him is that he didn’t take himself [too seriously]. He’s a serious actor, he’s a brilliant actor, but he didn’t take his persona seriously. Talk about making something funnier than written, we were just dying when he did the voiceover. I want him to move to New York, so we can hang out all the time."
The meta modus operandi extends to the visual front as well. For instance, the Canada-based scenes introducing us to Ken and his colleague, Reilly Clayton (Lydia West), are presented with a cramped aspect ratio and the fuzziness of a VHS tape. It's only when the characters cross the American border in search of the secret society does the screen finally expand and lose its off-color graininess.
"Nobody ever talks about Canada — Americans certainly. It just was this idea of, I wanted the character to go to an Oz, to cross the threshold after the first episode from his land to a mysterious land," Myers says. "It always just made sense that the video quality of Canada would be less than America. And as the character starts to broaden his mind, so [too] he sees that there’s more pixels on the screen and that there’s more information on the margins."
All six episodes of The Pentaverate are now streaming on Netflix.