Donkey is the deuteragonist of the Shrek franchise. He is a real life talking donkey created by William Steig and adapted by DreamWorks Animation for the Shrek franchise. The character is voiced by Eddie Murphy.
Donkey is extremely talkative. However, despite his childlike excitement, he is clear-minded as he does not see Shrek as a threat when he first roars at him. He loves to dance, enjoys singing, idle chatter, which proves rather annoying to those around him. Being a donkey, he has a sweet tooth and enjoys such foods as parfait, cake, waffles (his favorite) and "upside-down coconut souffle with mango chutney sauce", has acrophobia, colorblindness, hypochondria (fear of illness), cowardice, impatience and short attention span, is often innocent and tactless, and even a bit dim. In a scene about Merlin's bonfire, Donkey's sweet tooth gets the best of him, for he sees only a fudge torte in the enchanted smoke.
In the "Meet the Cast of Shrek 2" segment that is featured in the Special Features part on the Shrek 2 DVD, Eddie Murphy says: "Donkey is a really positive character. He's always looking at the bright side of everything, trying to work it out. A happy-go-lucky donkey."
Life before Shrek
Not much is known about Donkey, though he mentions in Shrek 2, after being asked by Shrek to think of the saddest thing that ever happened to him, he mentions that he was sold for some magic beans and that he was pinned a tail on at a party, then the guests got drunk and started shouting Pinata, pinata, pinata.
Donkey in the Shrek films
The first appearance of Donkey is when an old woman tries to sell him to Lord Farquaad's guards for money. Since Donkey refuses to talk, the captain doesn't believe that he can. After the old woman is arrested, never to be seen again, Donkey finally speaks while enjoying some flying pixie dust, convincing the captain. By his own oral accounts, Donkey had suffered a life of abuse and ridicule before (literally) running into Shrek, a grouchy, reclusive ogre in the first film. When Shrek defends Donkey from a pursuing group of armed guardsmen, Donkey expresses profound gratitude and takes a liking to Shrek immediately, despite the reclusive ogre's best attempts to fend him off.
Donkey follows along enthusiastically when Shrek is forced to go on a quest to retrieve the Princess Fiona from a volcanic, dragon-guarded keep for a corrupt lord. It is at this keep that Donkey unwittingly meets his future mate, Dragoness — a female dragon who is infatuated with him almost immediately upon meeting him (Donkey was the only one who ever said anything nice about/to her). At first, Donkey is afraid of Dragoness and wants nothing to do with her, but when he finds her depressed because she misses him, he begins to like her. Donkey is initially instrumental in aiding Shrek and Fiona's relationship with one another, helping them overcome any confusion and uncertainties they have so that they finally may be together by the end of the film. Donkey realized that Shrek loved Fiona, and asked her what would happen if she didn't marry Farquaad in an attempt to help her realize how Shrek felt, which failed. Shrek overhears Fiona said "Who could love a beast so hideous and ugly?" and believed she was referencing him, and also believed Donkey actually agreed with her presumed opinion. Donkey, despite Shrek's behaviour, came back, where he confronted him for his harsh treatment, culminating with Shrek revealing that he overheard their conversation and that he believed Fiona and Donkey were referencing him, Donkey convinces Shrek that she was talking about somebody else. He urges Shrek into action in order to gain Fiona's true love and reveals that he has the Dragon on their side. When they arrive at the church, Shrek runs off, but Donkey stops him, telling him "he has to do things by the rules", meaning that he needs to wait until when Fiona and Farquaad say "I do", and then burst in and shout "I object". Shrek repeatedly throws Donkey in the air for him to see if Fiona and Farquaad have said "I do" and Shrek interrupts the wedding just about as Fiona and Farquaad were about to kiss, and holds off the wedding, but Fiona is angered at Shrek for his cold behaviour and interrupting the wedding. Shrek accidentally admits his love for Fiona, and Fiona is now reluctant to kiss Farquaad, but the sun sets and Fiona transforms into an ogress in front of everyone. The guards take Shrek and Fiona, but Shrek whistles for Dragon, who bursts in and devours Farquaad. When Fiona and Shrek are married, she tosses her bouquet and Dragoness catches it. Shrek encourages Donkey to be with Dragon and he accepts her as his mate.
In the second film, Shrek and Fiona arrive at their swamp after their honeymoon, only to realize that Donkey had "babysat" their home. He had come because Dragon was all moody and vicious.
When Shrek and Fiona are invited to the kingdom of Far Far Away, Donkey accompanies them, but is extremely annoying all the way. He is excited to be in the palace. Donkey and Shrek go into the woods after the king had invited them for some father-son bonding with Shrek, and they meet a tabby cat named Puss in Boots. He says that he was hired by King Harold to kill Shrek, but he failed to do so. He pleaded for their forgiveness, but Donkey is upset when Shrek forgives him. At first, Donkey doesn't like Puss, but they eventually become friends. Puss accompanies Shrek and Donkey to find the Fairy Godmother's office and helps the duo steal a potion called "Happily Ever After". When he offered to sample the potion for Shrek, Donkey interrupted him, saying it was "the best friend's job" and drinks a small amount of the potion. Nothing happened to him, so Shrek drank the entire bottle.
Later that night, Donkey starts to reassure Shrek that everything will be all right until he faints—which Shrek also does shortly afterwards. Waking up the next day, Donkey realizes that he is now a stallion and that Shrek is now a human. After stealing a proper outfit for Shrek, the trio makes their way to the castle, but the Fairy Godmother and her son Prince Charming are already there and a heartbroken Shrek lets Fiona go and leaves the palace with Donkey and Puss. They are later rescued by the Three Little Pigs, the Three Blind Mice, the Big Bad Wolf, Pinocchio, and Gingy after they were locked up for running away from the authorities. Donkey guided Mongo, a giant gingerbread man created by the Muffin Man, to the castle and helped to take away the Fairy Godmother's wand. At midnight, he, Shrek and Fiona are transformed back into their regular selves. Donkey is disappointed that he's not a horse anymore, but Shrek assures him, that he will always be a stallion in his eyes.
At the end of the film, Donkey is reunited with Dragon, who is followed by their donkey/dragon-hybrid children, the Dronkeys, whom Donkey is happy to see.
Donkey is enjoying fatherhood in Shrek the Third, but he is still first and foremost Shrek's sidekick and closest friend. When Far Far Away is in need of a new king, Donkey ventures off with Shrek in search of Fiona's cousin Arthur Pendragon, known simply as Artie at the Worcestershire boarding school where he resides. In their magical transport back to Far Far Away (aided by a slightly off-kilter Merlin), Donkey and Puss accidentally switch bodies, (most likely from holding hands) and Puss finds Donkey's quadrupedal form hideous. Donkey, meanwhile, can't figure out how Puss can walk with such fancy accouterments. They must put that aside and work together, however, if they are to save Far Far Away from a vindictive Prince Charming. After Charming is defeated, the same sorcerer comes to change them back, it works but switches their tails.
Donkey appeared in the film, was released theatrically on May 21, 2010. Due to the time change caused by Rumpelstiltskin, Donkey is now intellectual, has his fur messed up, and is afraid of Shrek at first. Eddie Murphy voiced Donkey again.
In the 2008 musical adaptation of Shrek, Donkey is portrayed by Tony nominee Daniel Breaker. Breaker said that he had never seen any of the Shrek films before and chose not to, so his performance would not be a copy of Eddie Murphy's Donkey. The main (and possibly only) difference between the animated and musical versions of Donkey is that on Broadway Donkey walks on his "hind" legs; otherwise, the two are the same lovable jabbering jackasses. Donkey's past is never brought up, but at one point he tells Shrek that he "did six years in solitary (confinement) for impersonating a pinata".
After Shrek leaves his swamp to confront Lord Farquaad, Donkey literally runs into him while trying to escape the lord's goons. When Shrek succeeds in frightening them away, Donkey refuses to leave Shrek's side and begs him to "Don't Let Me Go". Shrek reluctantly allows him to tag along and they meet Farquaad together, who sends them to rescue Princess Fiona. When Shrek wonders if this is going to be the longest day of his life, Donkey immediately comes up with "the perfect remedy for that" by getting Shrek to join him in a "Travel Song". Donkey and Shrek have a turning point in their friendship when Shrek saves him while crossing the bridge to the Dragon's castle. Shrek leaves Donkey alone so he may rescue Fiona, but the Dragon discovers him and plans to turn him into a "Donkey Pot Pie". Donkey, however, manages to charm her by complimenting her teeth. Now she becomes infatuated with him and when he runs away, she sends her dancing skeletons—knights who have failed to reach Fiona and encountered Dragon instead—after him. He escapes with Shrek and Fiona and is overjoyed when Fiona calls him a noble steed, which gives him new-found confidence. After he asks Shrek who he would be if he could be anyone different, he joins him in the Act One finale, "Who I'd Be".
In Act Two he joins Shrek in giving some subtle hints about Fiona's groom-to-be ("He's a little intimidating; you may want to lower your expectations, etc.") He tries to keep Fiona and Shrek separate when they start fighting over who had the worst childhood during "I Think I Got You Beat", but then tries to stay as far away as possible when the two start to bond over farting. After he notices a romantic attraction between them, he helps out in setting the mood for a romantic dinner with a little help from the Three Blind Mice (seen here as backup singers similar to Dreamgirls) in "Make a Move". He later discovers Fiona in her ogress form and promises not to tell Shrek about her curse, though insists that if she loves him, she should. Shrek, however, has overheard part of their conversation and thinks the two of them have betrayed him by pretending to be his friends while thinking he is a hideous monster. The next morning Donkey wakes up late to discover Fiona riding to Duloc with Lord Farquaad (who Shrek fetched during the night). He tries to explain to Shrek what happened but the angry ogre refuses to listen and pushes him away. After Shrek returns to his lonely swamp, Donkey arrives and after a brief fight, they forgive each other and acknowledge their friendship. Donkey convinces him to go back to Duloc and tell Fiona how he really feels about her before her fateful wedding, telling him he has his own way of getting to the church before they run offstage together. It turns out his transportation is Dragon, who has somehow escaped the castle, rejoined Donkey, and crashes through the stained-glass window to devour Farquaad. Donkey pops up next to her yelling "Nobody move! I've got a Dragon here and I'm not afraid to use it! I'm a Donkey on the edge!" He witnesses Shrek and Fiona kiss and joins them in their celebration of a happy ending.
Donkey went through possibly the most changes from the Seattle previews to the Broadway stage. He was originally played by Chester Gregory II, had different scenes with more lines from the movie and different songs, and his costume—which designer Tim Hatley stated to be the most difficult to create—was changed numerous times before the one used today was created.
- Donkey's lower lip sticks out when he gets angry.
- Steven Spielberg wanted his good friend Steve Martin to voice Donkey.
- Donkey guest-starred in an episode of Father of the Pride called "Donkey." It portrays him as a rather conceited Hollywood actor whom everyone likes. In the same episode, there was a Donkey stunt double named Jermece (who was voiced by Mark Moseley, who voiced Donkey in the video games). In the show, he appears to shoot a Japanese SUV commercial, but in real life, Donkey was used in Chinese SUV commercials.
- The filmmakers had intended to change Dragon into a beautiful pink winged mare to coincide with Donkey's metamorphosis into a handsome white stallion in Shrek 2, as the Fairy Godmother's Happily Ever After potion affects both the drinker and their “true love”. Dragon's equine depiction never made it into the final film, however, Dragon was not left in her true form either at the time; she only appeared in a post-credits scene, when everyone is "back to normal".
- Donkey is an interact-able character at Universal Studios Florida and Universal Studios Hollywood, offering personalized chatter to those that approach his cart.
- One thing known about Donkey is that he likes making waffles. This is noted in Shrek when he says to Shrek "And in the morning, I'm making waffles!" and in Shrek 4-D when he says to Dragon "Let's go home and make some waffles!". He also gets "carried away" with a story about a 50-foot waffle Santa Claus in Shrek the Halls.
- Donkey appeared in the original book as a regular sized donkey who Shrek rode on briefly during his journey.
- Strangely, Donkey does not appear in the first Shrek game for Xbox. Neither was he mentioned.
- In Scared Shrekless, he was voiced by Dean Edwards, who filled in for Eddie Murphy who declined to reprise his role. But in Donkey's Christmas Shrektacular, Murphy returned, although Edwards still replaced him in Thriller Night.
- In Shrek 2, he cried "I'M MELTING. I'M MELTING!" after he drank the Happily Ever After potion and it started to rain. This is a reference to Who Framed Roger Rabbit, where Judge Doom cried "I'M MELTING! I'M MELTING!" as he dissolved in Dip. This is also a reference to the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz.
- Despite not appearing in the film, Shrek and Donkey are featured in the new Kung Fu Panda 3 commercial that spoofs the recent Snickers advertisements. However, Monkey and Po aren't just themselves when they are hungry. This delightful tease gives us a few jokes, but we don't get to see much more from the actual film itself, which is in theaters in just a few short weeks.
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