Question: So, were you a fan of the Shrek movies?
Justin Timberlake: Yeah, huge. I mean, how can you not be? It’s a classic animated film, you know. I can’t believe I’m in a Shrek movie. Yes, I still … I’m just kind of … all giddy inside.
The interesting thing, of course, is because of the gestation period of the making of an animation feature it means that you were offered this role and accepted it years ago, years probably before you really started to get your chops as an actor?
JT: [INHALES LOUDLY] Er, well that is halfway true, yeah.
So how did that feel when they offered you the role? Did you think ‘Well, I don’t know if I’m up to this yet because this is such a high level of…
JT: Oh I didn’t … [LAUGHS]
…of movie making that they’re doing here’?
JT: Yeah I didn’t care. [INTERVIEWER CHUCKLES] I wasn’t gonna pass it up. I was gonna hustle my way through the whole … as a matter of fact I did hustle my way through the whole thing. They really think I can act [CHUCKLES].
Now music clearly has a vital part to play in every Shrek movie; the music’s intertwined beautifully. Had you thought at any point ‘Oh yeah they want me to come in so that I’ll do some music for the movie’?
JT: No, you know it was from the first meeting I had with Jeffrey he said, “I don’t want you to do any music, I just want you to be Artie.” And... er... so that was nice. You know, it’s interesting he saw me do a hosting gig on Saturday Night Live and then that’s what I think got me the part. That was my audition.
Was there any preparation needed or did you just turn up in your jeans and t-shirt in the studio?
JT: Yeah. One day I showed up in sweats. This is literally the easiest job I’ve [LAUGHING] ever had. You show up and they show you the storyboards and you go through it and then you do the scenes and you come up with ideas, and you go back and you try different things and you do it different ways and … and they get what they need and… they make an amazing, amazing film out of it.
What appealed to you about playing Artie, Arthur or King Arthur, whatever way you want to describe him?
JT: I kind of liked the idea that … what I love about Shrek is that it turns everything on its head. Everything that you understand about medieval mythology with King Arthur is such a strong figure in that mythology and in the world of far, far away in Shrek, you know he’s - he’s a bit of a nerd; he’s a bit of a loser, and he’s got a journey to make. And so the fact that you can come in and make a character out of that, it’s a challenge but it’s an awesome challenge to take on and like I said it’s Shrek. I just… wanted to be in the movie
Your career, well the bulk of it, has been built on getting the reaction from the audience and feeding from that reaction helps your performance. How difficult was it to get used to the idea of it’s you in a soundproofed glass booth and you can’t even hear them laugh outside it?
JT: You know … it wasn’t, it wasn’t all too weird. I mean obviously I’ve been in a recording studio before…
Yes. But you don’t get many laughs in a recording studio.
JT: Yeah, well, the kind of recording I normally do you hope not to get laughs. You know?! You could still see through the glass, you can see what they’re responding to, so you kind of knew what was working and Chris Miller, the director, he did such an amazing job. He’s got such a good ear and such a good sensibility about what works best for a movie like Shrek. And, you know, it’s not an easy thing to do, to introduce a new character, especially with all these famous voices that people already know and trust as their characters. I did feel a little bit of pressure. Chris ... put me at ease.
I hear that one of Chris’s great talents is that he actually acts out the other parts while you’re in the booth.
JT: He does. He does, and well, by the way. He can sound like Mike as Shrek, he can sound like Antonio as Puss in Boots and he can sound like Eddie as Donkey. It’s pretty impressive.
Will this have been the first time that you’ll be on sale as a doll? Cos there’ll be a King Arthur doll out there with the Shrek toys.
JT: Unfortunately no.
So when was your first [JUSTIN BLOWING RASPBERRY] experience in a toy shop as a doll?
JT: I think, um, there were some marionettes made. I don’t wanna talk about it. I really just don’t wanna talk about it.
JT: I’m sorry.
Shrek Four is already in preparation. Are you signed on for that, because you’re clearly swept away…?
JT: No one’s spoken to me about it. Obviously, I screwed Shrek The Third up. Um. But whatever. Hey. It was fun while it lasted, guys. Thanks for thinking of me. Um... I hope so. You know I don’t even know what the story of Shrek the fourth Shrek is so... but I’d love to be a part of it though.
Mmm hmm. [LAUGHING] I’ve suggested a title.
Shrek Goes Fourth.
JT: Shrek Goes Fourth. I like it.
Why, thank you. So it gets your approval?
JT: I like it. Shrek Goes Fourth. It’s a lot to say. Shrek The Third. Shrek Goes Fourth. I don’t know. I like it. I like it.
Yeah okay. Good. Thank you.
JT: I like it. Sold.
Great. Thanks. Now, you say this is the easiest job you’ve ever done. I don’t believe that - I think you’re just being typically modest. I wondered if you would tell us about a day perhaps when you were struggling to get a line right or to get the right rhythm in a line or to get the right tone or the energy?
JT: I have been virtually, er... um... perfect my whole career so [INTERVIEWER CHUCKLES] I don’t what you’re talking about! A lot of what became challenging for this character was just the terminology and, you know, there is a huge responsibility on this character because at the end of the film he really does bring the message home. And that was probably the most challenging scene. We kept going over and over it again and I’d come up with ideas and Chris would come up with some deas and Aron the Producer would come up with ideas, and we’d all just spit all these ideas out. And, after a while it became a great, nice monologue for the end of the film. But it definitely took a lot to get there, cos you know you wanna make sure that it’s relatable to the kids you know. You wanna make sure that it meets on a level with them where it doesn’t dumb it down, it doesn’t try to preach to them. That’s what they’ve done twice already with Shrek. And to bring that message home with a new character you just didn’t wanna let that track record down.
You’re in a very fortunate and special place in your career where you’re able to mix a tremendously successful music career with a career in film. I wondered if doing comedy like this it’s almost like a kind of release from the quite serious business of making excellent pop music, cos it doesn’t happen without a lot of work?
JT: Yeah, it is an art form. But also it’s kind of, I’ve always kind of just … flown by the seat of my pants … so to speak. I’ve always just kind of trusted my gut on stuff like that and, you know, you’re right - I am a extremely lucky individual to be in this position and I definitely don’t take it for granted. I’m very, very thankful to be here.
Finally, it’s interesting that you probably couldn’t have completed this film without the new age technology, because I believe you were all over the place when you were recording your voice part?
JT: That is true. I was on tour for a couple of the sessions. We just finished up. I recorded in Los Angeles, Minnesota, Florida, New York. I think that’s it.
Which is quite something, isn’t it?
JT: It is. I mean, there was one session we did where I literally had them on video through an ISDN and… and we did this session, you know, across the internet...
Mmm, and of course with the miracle of technology it’s seamless.
JT: Yeah. It’s crazy.
Yeah. Justin thanks a million. Really enjoyed it.
JT: Alright. Thank you.