The green ogre Shrek, a kind-hearted character many feared, was inspired by Maurice Tillet, a kind-hearted man many feared because of his physical appearance.
The touching story of Maurice Tillet, the real-life Shrek
The animated film Shrek created by the mythical animator DreamWorks is a fairly popular fictional story in which a big-hearted ogre is constantly prejudiced because of his physical appearance.
However, there is part of this story that is not fiction, as the main character was based on the personality and physical form of a real, flesh-and-blood man.
Maurice Tillet was born in the Russian Empire to French parents in 1903. With an angelic face, something that led him to be nicknamed “the angel” during his childhood, his father died at an early age and his mother had to flee Russia with him in 1917 when the Bolshevik revolution broke out.
Tillet saw his life take a tragic turn in his early 20s after developing acromegaly, an endocrinological disease that excessively alters the production of growth hormone leading to disproportionate limbs and head.
In addition to physical deformities, it causes premature death and a lifetime of physical pain, leading to arthritis, migraines, hypertension, diabetes and heart and kidney problems. However, despite his physical problems, Tillet continued to study during the following years of his life, eventually enlisting in the French Navy, speaking several languages and writing poetry.
His physical problems, however, prevented him from realizing his dream of becoming an actor, and in the face of the hostility received in his native country and the outbreak of World War II, he escaped to the United States in search of a new life.
There he found no other job than that of professional wrestler, something he had already done in France for some years with the wrestler of Lithuanian origin and one of his few friends Karl Pojello. Being mainly recognized by his stage name, first as “the ogre of the ring” and then as “the French Angel” and gaining a large following.
Although famous among his followers, his life remained solitary, accompanied only by a few friends. Maurice Tillet died due to heart problems in 1954.