ON THE SET OF WAYNE’S WORLD CANADA’S MIKE MYERS JUST WANTS TO HAVE FUN
PARTY ON, MIKE!
ON THE SET OF WAYNE’S WORLD CANADA’S MIKE MYERS JUST WANTS TO HAVE FUN
On a busy thoroughfare in South-Central Los Angeles, just a few blocks from the epicentre of the riots, a movie crew is holding up traffic. A camera mounted on a crane in the middle of the street wheels around to capture the action as a car pulls up to the Stan Mikita Donut Shop. Lit up against the night sky, a crude statue of Mikita in his Chicago Blackhawk uniform moves absurdly back and forth across the roof, like a tabletop hockey player in slow motion. The Stan Mikita Donut Shop doesn’t really exist. It’s a fictional hangout in a Chicago suburb. But it was inspired by a Tim Horton doughnut shop in Scarborough—the Toronto suburb that produced Mike Myers and the culture of rec rooms and road hockey that became Wayne’s World, For the movie, one of last year’s biggest hits, the film-makers created the shop in an L.A. strip mall. For the sequel, they recently rebuilt it on the same site, despite safety concerns in the wake of the L.A. riots.
As the camera rolls, some 40 extras mill about on cue, a heavy-metal pageant of long hair and leather—cool dudes with California tans and “babacious foxes” with fishnet thighs. At one point, a bunch of kids from the neighborhood run on to the set and crowd around Wayne (Myers) and Garth (Dana Carvey). Even in South-Central L.A., Wayne’s World seems to have an invincible charm. “We are not worthy!” cries one of the fans, in faithful Waynespeak. Patiently, Myers and Carvey sign autographs. Later, while the crew sets up the next shot, Myers takes a seat on a curb in the parking lot. He seems right at home, happy to be back in Wayne’s sneakers, hanging out at the doughnut shop. Making Wayne’s World II “feels shockingly and remarkably the same” as making the first movie, he says. “Wayne’s just a happy guy who likes to have fun, and he’s a lot of fun to play.”
Myers is the latest local hero in the Cana-
dian invasion of Hollywood. Last year, during his third season with the cast of Saturday Night Live, the extravagant success of Wayne’s World made him a movie star. Now he is cashing in with a sequel, due out in December, and starring in a new comedy, I Married an Axe Murderer, which opens next month. But Myers, 29, seems determined to keep his life uncomplicated. Interviewed two months ago at the Saturday Night Live studios in Manhattan, he was dressed much like Wayne, in a T-shirt and blue jeans ripped at the knees. Despite his accelerating
fame and fortune, he swears that his lifestyle has not changed. How does he spend his money? “On airfare to Toronto to see the Leafs play,” says Myers. “I love coming back to Maple Leaf Gardens.”
Born and raised in Scarborough, he is the youngest of three brothers in the family of Alice, a retired data processor, and Eric Myers, a British-born insurance salesman who died in 1991. Mike was a Saturday Night Live fan from the beginning—he watched the first show when he was 11, in 1975. The day he completed high school, he joined
Toronto’s Second City theatre. Then, after performing in England for three years, he joined Chicago’s Second City troupe in 1988.
The next year, at 26, he became SNL’s youngest cast member.
Most of the SNL characters that he has since created are drawn directly from his own experience. His Scottish shop skits (“If it’s not Scottish, it’s crap”) are inspired by the Tartan Shop in Toronto. And Coffee Talk’s Jewish mother is based on the mother of his wife, 29year-old actress Robin Ruzan. He met Ruzan in Chicago, after a hockey game. “It was the first game of the 1987 season,” he recalls, “the Leafs versus Chicago, and that night I caught a puck and made it back to Second City in time to do the improv set. I met Robin in the bar across the street after the show.” Catching a puck and getting the girl—it could be a scene from Wayne’s World. And of all the characters in the Myers repertoire, Wayne is closest to home. “Wayne’s sort of like everybody I grew up with in Scarborough,” he says. “It’s just the suburban, adolescent, North American, heavy-metal experience, as I knew it.”
But expanding Wayne’s World into a Hollywood movie seemed risky. And after filming it, both Myers and Carvey were convinced they had made a flop. Then, after it opened, Myers remembers the thrill of looking out his apartment window on New York’s Upper West Side with binoculars and watching the lineup form at the theatre across the street.
The movie’s parody of adolescence strikes a common chord with kids and adults. It is comedy as guitar feedback, postmodern irony amplified beyond belief. Wayne comes across as innocent, irreverent and wildly ordinary. He is both
star and fan. And the same goes for Myers. He has performed SNL skits with Madonna, Wayne Gretzky and Mick Jagger—but remains starstruck. On meeting Jagger, he recalled, “I was overawed. It’s as if Niagara Falls could talk. You’re looking at him and you think, ‘I’m having a conversation with Niagara Falls.’ It’s imponderable.”
Myers, who can be remarkably ingenuous, tries to keep his comedy inoffensive. In a Wayne’s World sketch last year, he stirred up controversy with a reference to U.S. President Bill Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea. When Hillary Clinton protested, says Myers, “I felt awful. It was not my intention to make fun of a 12-year-old, but to say, We think you’re a future fox.’ That it got misinterpreted sickened me to my stomach.” Myers wrote the First Lady an apology.
In Wayne’s World no one gets hurt. It is a movie about the unbearable lightness of being a metalhead. And Myers hopes that the second movie “will travel as modestly as the first one did.” But in Hollywood, modesty is a rare commodity. Last week, as Toronto-based Steve Surjik, the director of Wayne’s World II, prepared the crane shot in Los Angeles, he seemed a little embarrassed by the scale of it all. “I didn’t want a crane shot,” he said. “I just wanted a camera on a stick in the street. But these things tend to get out of hand.” Behind the Hollywood production values, however, Wayne’s goofy spirit seems intact. He tries to organize a rock concert—Waynestock—in the sequel. “It’s the further adventures of two guys who want to have fun,” says Myers. “It’s about faith and spirituality. It’s also about the threshold of adulthood.” Then, catching himself sounding too serious, he adds, “That’s stuff we know and hopefully never have to say. Wayne’s Worlds are pretty gag-driven. The gags stay the same—it’s just the order that gets shuffled.” Myers leaves to shoot a scene, in which he gets the Garthmobile (a babyblue Pacer) stuck in the drive-through at Stan Mikita’s Donuts. Another cinematic landmark... Not! Party on, Wayne.
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