Michael John Myers, better known as Mike Myers, is a distinct figure in the realm of comedy. A jack of all trades, the Canadian-English comedian is also celebrated as an actor, screenwriter, director and producer and has seven MTV Awards, an Emmy and a SAG Award to his name, among other accolades.
Known for his unbridled enthusiasm, Myers became a household name after his time on Saturday Night Live in 1975, a job that saw him perform stand-up comedy routines. Based on an SNL skit, the 1992 film about two music lovers starting a cable show, Wayne’s World, produced by Lorne Michaels, became highly successful, catapulting Myers into stardom.
However, his role in the 1997 series Austin Powers cemented his talent as a multi-tasking comedian. With poor oral hygiene and thick-rimmed glasses, his character became legendary, exposing the follies of the iconic James Bond. It was extremely well-received by the general public.
After starring in films like The Spy Who Shagged Me, Goldmember, and more, Myers’ popularity escalated when he voiced the beloved DreamWorks character, the green, grumpy yet adorable ogre, Shrek in the Shrek franchise. Myers also recently starred in the Netflix limited series, The Pentaverate, where he reprised eight different roles, many of which paid tribute to his eclectic filmography.
A few days back, Myers appeared in a video interview with GQ. He reflected on some of his most iconic roles in films like Wayne’s World, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, Shrek, So I Married an Axe Murderer, and The Pentaverate and commented on them. Starting off the interview with “just a little comedy”, Myers began with the 1992 film Wayne’s World, where he played Wayne Campbell. Although Myers was born to English parents, he grew up in the suburban Scarborough, Canada, where he was a “heavy metal kid”.
Myers gained inspiration for the character from people around him “who talked that way,” which included him. Wayne Campbell has been an age-old creation of Myers as a part of the “trunk of [his] characters” and has appeared on stages in punk clubs, on Canadian television, on Second City sketches and later on SNL.
When Michaels and Myers approached Paramount with the idea, they were sceptical of the film, unsure of its future. Myers said, “We didn’t think it was gonna get made, we didn’t think it was gonna get released, and we didn’t think that anybody would go see it.” However, the film’s success came as an “unbelievable, joyous” surprise to the comedian when the film topped the charts.
Myers grew up in a supportive English household where his father, in particular, enjoyed Peter Sellers from Pink Panther and loved all things comedy, even encouraging Myers to pursue a career in the same field. When Myers undertook Austin Powers, the film, to him, was “cheeky chappy” and “everything my dad was proud of being British”. However, one of the “key ingredients”, according to him, was Burt Bacharach, the iconic composer of the Casino Royale score, which was a James Bond parody film.
Moving on to the 2001 film Shrek, Myers echoed the sentiments of many when he said that “the Eurocentric form that is the fairytale is really about classism”. Myers first recorded the character with a Canadian accent before re-recording the entire film in a Scottish accent which, according to him, is the “most working class.”
“I love the idea of taking a fairytale, turning it on its head and having it be that all the traditional bad guys are good guys and all the traditional good guys are the bad guys,” said Myers.
In 1993, he starred in So I Married An Axe Murderer. A certified Jack Kerouac fan, Myers said, “I was like if it’s San Francisco, it should be beat poems and beat poetry” and wanted to make his character a beat poet in San Francisco who could do the “fun Jack Kerouac thing.”
Myers wanted it to be a “genre-mix” and, detailing further, he said: “There’s a point in a man’s life when he’s deciding to get married, and there is a part of them that makes them feel like that makes them ever more closer to dying.” The “sense of one’s own mortality at that moment” inspired Myers to make it into a comedy-thriller.
Watch the full interview below.