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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 June, 2004, 08:12 GMT 09:12 UK
Green carpet for Shrek 2 premiere
Antonio Banderas and wife Melanie Griffiths
Banderas based his character on his mother-in-laws' 72 cats
Dame Julie Andrews and Antonio Banderas turned out for the UK premiere of comedy Shrek 2 on Monday.

John Cleese, Jennifer Saunders and Rupert Everett, whose voices also star, took to the special green carpet laid down in London's Leicester Square.

The sequel, released in the UK on 2 July, is the most successful animated film of all time in the US.

Shrek 2 is a fairy tale adventure about a loveable green troll - voiced by Canadian actor Mike Myers.

The computer-animated film has sold $354m (193.5m) worth of tickets at US and Canadian box offices.

Stars absent

Celebrities who turned up for the premiere included Oasis singer Liam Gallagher and his son Gene, Jade Jagger, and Ulrika Jonsson's husband, Lance Gerrard-Wright, with her son Cameron.

However, none of the film's chief stars - Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz - attended the UK premiere.

Speaking at the Odeon premiere, Julie Andrews, the voice of Queen Lillia, said: "You never set out to make a flop, but it's been such a huge success, I'm delighted."

The film's actors only met up as a team during May's Cannes premiere, as most of their parts were recorded in tiny booths across different parts of the world.

Julie Andrews
Andrew said she was "delighted" by the film's US success

Dame Julie said it was great to meet up with fellow Brit John Cleese.

"He's someone I've always admired but never met, and when we did one afternoon we had a terrific laugh. We talked about England, what we love and miss," she said.

Shrek 2 is now at number nine on the list of all-time box office hits in North America, ahead of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers at number 10.

'Normal voice'

At a press conference earlier, Dame Andrews said she was initially in two minds about voicing a role in the animated film.

"I wasn't sure. I've never done an animated character before. Mary Poppins involved animation but there were no animated characters in it."

But Dame Julie, who won a best actress Academy Award for her role in 1964's Mary Poppins, said: "It's done wonders for my standing with my grandchildren."

Alice Faye and John Cleese
John Cleese and his wife, Alice, got into the Shrek spirit

Cleese, 64, said of his part: "I asked them what voice they wanted me to use, and they said we just want you to use your normal voice.

"That was great. It made my life easier than if they had wanted a Bulgarian or Danish accent."

Banderas, who voices Puss-in-Boots, said his mother-in-law's 72 cats were his inspiration for his character.

"We had a lot of creative input into the script. They demanded information from us about the characters. Now I know why the first movie felt so fresh.

"I have two cats at home but more dogs. My mother-in-law has 72 cats and that's how I did my research."




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Stephanie West
"In America, the film is already a commercial and critical success"



SEE ALSO:
Review: Shrek 2
20 May 04  |  Film
Shrek to spawn more sequels
25 May 04  |  Film


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