Ray Mickshaw/FOX
People Staff
April 27, 2010 12:00 AM

Shaking hands with green-eared fans on their way to the L.A. premiere of Shrek Forever After in 3D at The Grove shopping center on Saturday was a big reward for Idol‘s top 6 remaining contestants.

“It’s important to that whole process for them to get away from the grind,” host Ryan Seacrest tells PEOPLE. “Every day they are working on their songs and on working their performances, and so your brain gets fried, so you need these little escapes, these field trips to keep fresh.”

“I’m excited to see this,” Casey James said before the movie, “because I like the Shrek movies and I like animated films in general.”

Showing up also earned the contestants points with Seacrest, who voices a role in the film. His part? The father of a kid, Butterpants, who annoys the ogre Shrek.

“I don’t have kids, so this is a serious role for me to take on considering that I really had to become a father,” Seacrest says. “I’m not in it that much, just a little portion of the movie, but I will tell you that Antonio Banderas‘s character, Puss in Boots, had me laughing out loud throughout the movie.”

Banderas, in return, shares his enthusiasm for Idol.

“I love those kids,” he says of the Idols. “I have a thing for young artists because … I’ve been there, I know the struggle. And just to see these kids on television and watching with wife Melanie Griffith, they are awesome. They are beautiful to watch, to see their evolution.”

Prior to the Shrek screening, the Idols were working on that evolution with guest judge and this week’s mentor, Shania Twain.

“It was a huge honor to get to meet her,” Aaron Kelly says, “because I’m a huge country fan.”

“She literally glows in person,” Siobhan Magnus adds, “and she’s very real and honest and said things we all need to hear.”

Micahel Lynche hoped to make an early impression on the singer. “You don’t want to flub, not even a word,” he says. “Out of respect you want to be perfect,” adds.

Surprisingly, Lee DeWyze was more relaxed. “I just had a good time,” he says, “she is a down to earth person, really cool, the kind of person I could hang out with.”

For Crystal Bowersox, performing Shania’s music was an exercise in nostalgia. “I remember being 12 years old and getting her CD and rocking out,” Bowersox says. –Cynthia Wang Ray Mickshaw/FOX

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