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Interview with... Shrek The Musical's Very Own Princess Fiona AMANDA HOLDEN

Were you a fan of the original Shrek movie?
I was a fan of all of the Shrek movies. I have a five year old daughter and I‘ve watched them repeatedly with her since she was two. I know them backwards. That was my main impetus to be involved in the show, the fact that she is such a fan of them and now we are. Everyone keeps asking me though: ―Who are you playing in Shrek?‖ and I‘m like, ―Hello! I‘m not playing Shrek!‖ (laughs)

She must have been pretty excited when you got the part.
My daughter Lexi is beside herself that I‘m a princess and every time she draws a picture at school, or at home, or anywhere, she goes, ―Mummy, that‘s you as Princess Fiona, but you‘re not wearing a green dress, you‘re wearing a pink dress.‖ Because she‘s not keen on green. (laughs) I think we need a bit of a shift in the fashion in this show.

And playing a princess? How hard is that going to be for you?
Playing a princess on stage is going to be huge stretch. And something that I don‘t know how I‘m going to get my head around. (laughs) I‘m going to go and find a Stanislavski teacher and get into it. I‘m a bit method anyway. I might ask Kate and William if I can move in, have a few lessons on how to be a princess, that kind of thing.

Cameron Diaz played the original Fiona. Will it be difficult to step into her shoes?
The interesting thing about playing Princess Fiona is that although Cameron Diaz has played it, you didn‘t see her, you only heard her. So I don‘t see that I‘m stepping into Cameron Diaz‘s (probably) size 9 shoes. She‘s a goddess and very tall and I‘m a small munchkin by comparison. I feel like she has created a brilliant, feisty, fearless princess and I just have to carry the story on.

And you're a princess who turns into an ogre? How are they going to transform you?
I‘m going to be wearing a lot of prosthetics and a fat suit that I‘ve already been measured for to give me round shoulders and a bigger chest area. I‘m wearing a prosthetic nose, and ears, and I‘m going to be painted green and I will be farting at will. To be honest, that‘s how I look most Sundays, after a big night out. So, it‘s no difference to me. I am an ogre, a glamorous ogre.

People familiar with your TV roles may not realise you are an Olivier nominated theatre actress for Thoroughly Modern Millie.
When you go to drama school, you only ever think you‘re going to be on stage. I ended up doing telly which was a fluke really, so for me, it‘s going to be fantastic to feel that buzz and have that nervous energy. I absolutely thrive off stuff like that. I‘m like: bring it on! Although I‘ve acted for years and years, most people know me as a judge on a talent show. They‘ll be sitting in judgment of me and I‘ll just be praying they don‘t bring a buzzer. You can buy them online for £4.99. (laughs) That‘s a fact. I‘ve got three at home.

What does it feel like being back on the other side of the panel?
I think that one of the most important things when you‘re on a show like Britain’s Got Talent and sitting in judgement of other people is I wouldn‘t feel like I could sit there and say the things I do if I hadn‘t been on the stage myself. And still continuing to be, putting myself up for criticism or praise, whichever way it goes. That‘s why I love my seat on Britain’s Got Talent. Because every time I say, ―I know how you‘re feeling‖ or ―I can‘t do that, that‘s amazing‖, I‘m talking completely from experience. Maybe not a lot of people know that.

You've said the standing ovation you got for Thoroughly Modern Millie was one of the highlights of your career. 
Honestly, it was. When I commit to something, sign up to do something, I honestly give everything, 100%. I do not like to fail – for myself. Anyone else can write what they want and say what they want. But as long as I have done the best job possible, then I‘m happy. I remember the opening night, and a lot of times afterwards as well, when everyone stood up and you just thought: ―Oh my god!‖ It‘s a massive pat on the back, not just for me, but for everyone. It‘s amazing, better than any kind of award, seeing people in the public coming to see you, standing on their feet.

So were you looking to do another musical?
It was really bizarre. I‘d never seen myself do Millie but my husband found a clip of it somewhere. We looked at it and I said: ―I wasn‘t bad at all.‖ I really felt like it wasn‘t me I was watching. I went in for a meeting with my agent and she said: ―So next year, what are you thinking?‖ And I said, ―I don‘t know, but I‘d quite like to think about doing a musical.‖ And, completely freakish, she called me a week later, and said, ―They‘re auditioning for Shrek, the part of Princess Fiona, would you be interested in that?

Do you still get nervous at auditions?
Yes! My first audition was in Sam Mendes‘ office and when I came out, all the secretaries clapped. I couldn‘t imagine they could hear it, but of course they could; the walls were paper thin. I was like: ―Oh no, how embarrassing!‖ I‘m a massive fan of Glee, and I look at those kids who could get up and do a whole number right now. I could never do anything like that, not in a million years. So yes, I do get nervous.

Did Piers or Simon give you stick for signing up to Shrek?
I think they‘re both going to come and watch. Piers is extraordinarily keen to see it. I don‘t think you get Simon in a theatre very often but I will be forcing him at gunpoint to come. I‘ve sat between two ogres for the last four years so I‘m more than qualified to be on stage with one.

 How would you describe the story of Shrek? 
It‘s basically: don‘t judge a book by its cover. It‘s about a princess who has had delusions of a prince. I mean, social services should have been called way before the donkey turned up with an ogre! Someone turns up to rescue her and she really thinks her life is going to be perfect, that she‘s going to have a lovely white wedding and settle down. And life‘s not like that. She falls in love with a big fat green ogre and turns into one herself. It‘s about your darkest secrets and your ugliest moments coming out and still being loved. I think that‘s the moral of the story. Be yourself and people will still love you.

And why should people come along to the show?
People should come to Shrek the Musical because it‘s a one-off. It should have been on stage before it was made into a movie. It‘s funny, it‘s feel-good. It‘s teaching children, without getting too deep, not to judge anyone by how they look or sound. I get to fart all the way through a song which is one of the main reasons I‘m doing it, because I‘m a vegetarian and that comes easy to me. And don‘t make the mistake of thinking it‘s just for kids. Personally, I would never do something where I thought there was just going to be a bunch of children in the audience, no disrespect. Because you need some adults in there. It‘s hilarious. You‘re going laugh all night.

You mentioned you're quite good at farting and burping? Do you think you're going to show Nigel Lindsay up?
~Belch~ Sorry, pardon! (laughs). Am I going to show Nigel Lindsay up? Yes, I probably have more mannish habits than Nigel. Nigel seems quite a gentleman, very nice and polite. As long as he doesn‘t trump for real! I don‘t mind the noise - it‘s the stench I‘m not going to enjoy.

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