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The Actors: Walt Dohrn of ‘Shrek Forever After’

Who is Walt Dohrn?

He must be among Hollywood’s hottest because he has billing right after Antonio Banderas in “Shrek Forever After,” the fourth and potentially final entry in the blockbuster animated franchise, which opens May 21.

Whoever he is, Dohrn steals the film as the maniacal Rumpelstiltskin from the comedy’s quartet of superstars — Mike Myers as the green ogre, Cameron Diaz as his true love, Eddie Murphy as the wise-cracking Donkey and Banderas as the swashbuckling feline, Puss in Boots.

Truth be told, Dohrn isn’t even an actor at all. He’s head of story at DreamWorks Animation. “I started writing the scenes with the writers and directors, and we would put the scenes on the wall, and we would just be playing with that voice back and forth,” Dohrn says. “It just started to evolve. Rumple hadn’t been cast and people started falling more and more in love with the voice [I was doing] and the design.”

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Something of a cross between a Chucky Doll and a slightly demented Howdy Doody, Rumpelstiltskin lives in a trailer park inhabited by witches. His big dream is to become the ruler of Far Far Away, and he gets that opportunity when he tricks Shrek into making a deal.

Dohrn says Rumple is cut from a different cloth than the rest of the “Shrek” villains. “We decided to go the opposite spectrum on Rumple than what we did with Fairy Godmother and Prince Charming, who are all theatrical and sophisticated. We decided we were going to start with this ratty, hyper-energetic kid.”

One of his vocal inspirations was the child murderess in the 1956 film “The Bad Seed” because “there was this fake innocence about her but any minute she could turn. We also liked Bette Davis in ‘What Ever Happened to Baby Jane’ — that character had the youthfulness with this really scary edge. And then there was the Sean Penn character in ‘The Falcon and the Snowman’ — we got the really fast talking for Rumple from him. It was quite the stew.”

susan.king@latimes.com

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