With the release of the recent Shrek footage featuring the work of Chris Farley and a documentary detailing his life, it’s hard not to think about what might’ve been for the former SNL cast-member’s career. While we’ve explored the personal side of Farley and the duality within his comedic presence, a look at an alternate career path isn’t something that’s been dived into at length. Possibly because it’s too sad, too speculative, or even too difficult to fathom the man as anything but a force of nature when it comes to performance.
That’s where the idea behind this piece begins. It’s something you see bounced around — with varying levels of tact and care — in comment sections and forums across the Internet, usually fueled by late night speculation during some random SNL clip, a showing of Tommy Boy on Comedy Central, or even reading a post on this very site. What would have become of Farley if he hadn’t succumb to his demons? How far would the arc of his career have soared and would he have even opted to stay in show business had he survived?
It’s not like this is the first time we’ve been given a glimpse at a possible future with Chris Farley. His turn as Shrek isn’t some hidden surprise that came from nowhere and it isn’t the only lingering thread from a career that was cut short by self destruction. There were even rumors that Farley was meant to take the Kevin James role in Grown Ups, something that has been hinted at by the cast numerous times since the film’s release. Rob Schneider even compares Kevin James to the late SNL great in this blurb about the film in SF Gate:
Comparing James to late SNL stalwart Chris Farley, he says, “Believe it or not, (Farley) was 330 pounds of grace. I think Kevin is graceful too. And you can’t learn to be likable; he’s one of the most likable guys you’ll ever see on screen.”
This is just a rumor, though, something that Chris Rock and David Spade confirmed during this bit from Howard Stern in 2010, while also noting that if Farley was alive, the role would’ve likely gone to him.