"Saturday Night Live" star Chris Farley was recording his lines for the character when he died of an accidental drug overdose in 1997. His fellow "SNL" alum Mike Myers eventually took over the part and played Shrek in four blockbuster movies.
Cage reflected on his decision to turn down the role of Shrek, while promoting his another DreamWorks Animation feature, "The Croods." The hilarious, heartwarming movie tells the story of how Grug, a protective prehistoric patriarch tries to keep his family alive by instilling fear in them and discouraging them from doing anything new.
Grug begrudgingly changes his outlook after his feisty, teenage daughter Eep befriends Guy, a traveler who teaches the clan about the world's beauty and helps them navigate its challenges. Cage plays Grug, while Emma Stone is Eep and Ryan Reynolds is Guy.
"It's been a long road with myself and [DreamWorks Animation Chief Executive Officer] Jeffrey Katzenberg," Cage told reporters at a press conference in New York Friday.
"At one time, we were talking about Shrek and I just didn't want to look like that guy. Maybe I should have done it, looking back," Cage conceded. "So we kept trying to find the right match. [The 'Croods' film-making team] all came out to New Orleans and met with me. They showed me a picture of Grug and said, 'This is how we see you.' And I said, 'I hope I don't really look like that, but I think I'll do this.' What really got me about Grug is his arc, his emotional transformation. He goes from being this incredibly overprotective father, who is more like surviving and not living, which is in the movie, and he becomes able to let go and live. I liked that and I think that's what appealed to me the most. I like a movie that can make you laugh and make you cry and this movie does both."
Cage, 49, won the Oscar for Best Actor for his work in "Leaving Las Vegas." His other memorable movies include "Valley Girl," "Rumble Fish," "Peggy Sue Got Married," "Wild at Heart," "Moonstruck," "It Could Happen to You," "Con Air," "Face/Off," "Gone in 60 Seconds," "Adaptation," "The Family Man," "National Treasure" and "The Sorcerer's Apprentice."