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Chris Farley and David Spade were one of the funniest comedy duos of the 1990s. Their work on SNL and in films like Tommy Boy and Black Sheep inspired countless future comedians. According to Tommy Boy’s director, they even inspired one of the most successful franchises of all time -- Shrek.
Peter Segal, who directed Chris Farley and David Spade in Tommy Boy 25 (!!!!!) years ago, recently spoke about making the film, and about its legacy today. In a recent interview, he revealed that though he and Chris Farley never made another film together, it wasn’t for lack of wanting or trying (via Uproxx):
After Tommy Boy, we got a lot of offers to do things together and I of course was dying to find another project for us. Because, again, I took the leap of faith with him after working on two different television projects with him before Tommy Boy. And then, I did offer him a couple of things. He, by the way, almost did Shrek.
Though Chris Farley’s involvement in Shrek isn’t exactly a secret, David Spade’s indirect contribution is seemingly less well known. However, Peter Segal explained how the actors were the inspiration for Shrek’s own iconic duo:
Well, Terry Rossio and Ted Elliot, who wrote Shrek, I met with them years after Shrek came out and they said, ‘You know who we patterned the donkey and the ogre off of? As far as their relationship? That was Spade and Farley in Tommy Boy. That’s why we wanted Farley.
Ultimately, Chris Farley went on to make only a few more movies after Tommy Boy -- Black Sheep in 1996, followed by Beverly Hills Ninja, which was released at the beginning of 1997. In December of that year, Chris Farley passed away. His final film, Almost Heroes, was released in 1998. Chris Farley also recorded dialogue for Shrek before his death -- his performance can even be heard in some early footage of the film. Those clips reveal that a lot of changes were made to the character by the time Shrek hit theaters in 2001.
The role ultimately went to Mike Myers, while Eddie Murphy took on the David Spade-inspired role of Donkey. But it is easy to see how those two characters could have taken some cues from the pair. Both engage in a lot of sarcastic banter. And both pairs’ dynamics work well because the characters are polar opposites in a lot of ways.
Even if Shrek was inspired by different actors, it’s hard to imagine anyone besides Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy as the lead voices in Shrek -- and obviously, audiences responded well to their performances. The movie was wildly successful and spawned multiple sequels -- and another installment could even be in the works soon.