INT: Mike Myers
The truth is, Ive not always been a fan of Mike Myers work. I liked him quite a bit on Saturday Night Live and I respected the guy, but I never really got into his earlier work. But for some reason, as I get older, I find myself drawn to films like the AUSTIN POWERS series, SO I MARRIED AN AXE MURDERER, and WAYNES WORLD. And after checking out his latest, THE LOVE GURU, I find his work even more intriguing. Although I felt the film is far from great, I at least had fun. There are a ton of laughs, and I have a feeling many an audience will love it much more than expected.
Recently, while promoting the film, Mike Myers took time out to talk one on one with JoBlo. This is a very cool thing, being that he doesnt necessarily do a whole bunch of interviews. It was just him and I, sitting on a couch at The Four Seasons in Beverly Hills. One of the things that I found is how unbelievably deep the guy is. For all his over-the-top characters, Mike is simply Mike. He has a very calm and sincere nature about him. When he speaks to you, he really speaks to you. Whether he is talking about film, the loss of his father, or people in his career that he respects and admires. His is one hundred percent genuine.
As we began the conversation, we both were talking technology and music. He began talking all about Garage Band. This is a terribly talented human being. And he is also an absolute artist. This is a man who treats his craft as a painter would treat his paintings. Whether you like his films or not, you have to give him props for the process he goes through. And if you do like his films, I think you will have a bunch of fun at THE LOVE GURU, opening up today in a theatre near you.
Mike Myers: I love Garage Band, this is my latest obsession. Its unbelievably smart and fun. And for someone that really, truly doesnt actually have musical talent I can
well, I dont have a lot of musical talent but whats great is you can maximize what you have.
You have musical talent Ive seen you
I can drum. And I can pick up the bass a little bit. My brother is an amazing musician. So I kind of lived in his shadow. But Garage Band is just so brilliantly designed and so user friendly I love that.
Thats cool. Now, I want to ask you something which has always fascinated me about your career. You have these wild characters, you have Austin Powers and you now have The Love Guru but you never seem to play someone that is just like yourself.
I have a couple times.
[We both mention ] SO I MARRIED AN AXE MURDERER.
I would say about forty percent of the time on Saturday Night Live, Im not a character. But my heroes are people like Peter Sellers, Dan Ackroyd, and Lily Tomlin I never remember, cause shes female, I never remember and Gilda Radner. But Lily Tomlin is such an amazing artist . The joy for me is in creation at all levels. In writing in conceiving, writing and performing, recording and editing. The whole package to me is fascinating and a great experience. So part of that is manipulating my externals its a whole package, I love the worlds that my characters inhabit. That is the fun part of it. I specifically called the TV Show on Saturday Night Live, Waynes World, because I wanted to create a world for this character. So thats been fun. And of course there is no master plan for all of this, this is kind of just one thing to the next thing to the next thing, you know.
Well how did all this start out, with taking your characters on stage before putting them on film. Where did you discover that desire to take it farther and really create, you know, from bare bones?
Well, every situation Ive been in I got hired for Second City on my last day my last exam in high school was at nine oclock, it was Concept and Literature. My audition for Second City Theatre Company, the touring company in Toronto, was at twelve oclock so right after high school, I was a professional actor. Its been an unusual career in that regard. I did that for two years and then I moved to England, and I was in a comedy double act called Malarkey and Myers, and we wrote and performed our own material. It is just something that has interested me and its something I had to do with Saturday Night Live, I wrote and performed my own material. So its never been its never not been part of the equation. Even when I was a kid I wrote my own stuff and did little shows in my little neighborhood. It just was something I wanted to do. My parents were a big influence. My mom is a trained actress and my father loved culture. He loved music, loved comedies and movies he loved all culture. It was kind of like I didnt have a choice in the matter. Im very lucky, my parents were not the type of parents to tell you why cant you get a real job. They were why dont you become an actor [Laughing]. That is the opposite of most people who I know who are actors and had any kind of parental resistance. I had nothing but encouragement. Im very lucky in that regard Im very lucky.
With THE LOVE GURU, you really took on this whole new element, you have Bollywood and all that. Where did this all come about? How did you make the Love Guru flesh and blood?
Well, you know in 1991, my father passed away and in 1994 I first did this as a character on stage. But this voice had come, as with everything, it just kind of comes one day. All of the voices, they just kind of came to me one day, you know. The first, sort of incarnation of Austin Powers ultimately was a character I did on a sketch called, This Is How It Works. I had done it like three characters, like in 1990. I think Id done Simon
I loved Simon
thats one of my favorites.
Oh, thank you. I think I did Simon that night and this other character that I dont remember the name of on a show called [with a British dialect] This Is How It Works. You know, one of those British TV shows. And I think How It Works is now a show on TV. But I had a show, this crazy guy with glasses and bad teeth called [British dialect] This Is How It Works. And I would do something like a washing machine that had an agitated motor and Id say something like, The agitator cleans the clothes in an up, down fashion. [he uses his hands as example for an up and down motion], and I would turn to the crowd and go, Does this make you horny? [Laughing] Does it? The machine doing this does it make you horny? Does it make you randy? [I am laughing hysterically at this point, seriously this guy is funny] And this was like in 1990. And that whole thing of that crazy, does this make you horny, is just a crazy, uncomfortable question from this character. And I dont even know it just made me laugh, its just one of those things. And then, in 1994, it also just came to me as Austin Powers. And the Guru Pitka as well. These things happen in very strange waves.
You have such a precise way of working, especially most comedy coming out now, its all so much improvised. But yours is so meticulous.
And its improvised. This is the thing. I like to prepare for the improvisation. I like to know that I have something on the page. And I always get the on-the-page first done. And then you have silly takes, just for giggles, you know. And I dont know what the ratio is but maybe fifty percent of the takes that are used are from the giggles takes. Once youve got it. And Ive always worked that way. And Ive always worked that way, you know, from when I did Canadian T.V., its always been this thing, you know.
Now obviously, youve sort of dealt with Austin Powers. Have you thought about going back possibly with the origins of Dr. Evil?
You know, I have a lot of ideas I have no time. This is one of the things. These things just take forever. One of ten to twenty ideas as I was saying, that sort of circle the airport I dont know if Ill do it, but I dont know if I wont do it. Its one of those thing, I find mysterious as to which ones get born and which ones dont get born you know. So I dont know if its going to happen. And I literally do not know what my next movie is, and I never do.
Thats amazing. People must say to you, they ask you all the time, boy it takes you so long to make a movie. But hearing the process that you go through, the testing it out, the taking it on the road that is such an inventive way to work.
I dont know any other way to. I appreciate you saying that I truly dont know how not to do that. And in the case of WAYNES WORLD, I had done it on stage at Second City, then I did it on Saturday Night Live for a couple years. And then I did it on film, and then I did AUSTIN POWERS the same way and now THE LOVE GURU. I dont know another way to do it ultimately.
Well now WAYNES WORLD you brought back for the MTV Movie Awards.
That was unbelievably fun and I loved seeing Dana [Carvey] and seeing Garth. I missed Garth for so long. And I missed both of them and I had such a blast doing it.
Whose idea was it?
It was my idea. I really wanted to do it. When MTV said, would you like to host the MTV Movie Awards, I went YES, and I want to do a Waynes World, it was the first thing I thought of. And I hadnt thought about it in a long time but I just remembered having so much fun doing it yeah, I loved it I loved doing it.
Well I was there, I was in the audience. And you could hear a collective gasp when people realized what was going on.
Oh, thats cool.
It was intense.
Thats really cool. I enjoyed it.
Any chance of ever bringing that to life in some form again?
I dont know. Its not likely because it was a spontaneous urge that came out of, if you were to host, what would you do I went Waynes World. And I went I want to do that again, we havent done it.
Im sure you dont necessarily want to keep making sequels. Maybe create other things which may be limited by doing sequels.
There is tons of creativity within revisiting worlds. And thats what I do love. In the case of Dr. Evil, I think that Dr. Evil might be my most fun character to do. I love playing the character. I feel, I miss playing the character, just like I missed playing Wayne, you know. Its a lot of improvisation and its really fun. And the world is cool. Jay Roach did such an amazing, beautiful you know, the layers, the Dr. Evil lair theres no railings on any of the stairs. Everything is silver, jagged, black or white. Everythings on fire, just as we were sitting there, jamming, all the different worlds like Austins world is always fuzzy and soft. Dr. Evils world is always hard and sharp. Dr. Evils world is grey, silver and black. Austins world is always one of the primary colors. Its fun to jam on these worlds. So for me, if I get another movie, and I did Dr. Evil it would be there is just so much to do. But I dont know if Im gonna, I literally, Im not lying to you when I tell you I dont know what my next movie is. And at the end of every movie process, I never know what my next movie is. I never have.
When you take on a movie like that, you seem to really know your way around the way a film should look
the colors and the set design and everything else. When you are with a director, do you say weve got to do this, weve got to do that?
The movie process is a dialogue with everybody. Everybody throws down. Everybody theres a guy named Del Close, he was one of the founding members of Second City. He founded with Charna Halpern, the Improv Olympic. I had worked with Del Close. He had taught workshops in Toronto and in Chicago and I had taken them in both places. And one of the things, thats the basic unit of the currency of creativity for him was to say yes, and , to agree and and [add on]. Whenever Im in a creative situation with people, the dialogue of yes, and is electric. And we could do it right now and come up with something. Its the basis, I think, out of all creativity. And what Del Close was saying is that all creativity is transformation. And the engine of the transformation is yes, and. But ultimately everything transforms. So somebody believes one thing at the beginning of the movie, by the end of the movie they are transformed into believing something else. I dont think people necessarily change. But I believe they change their perspective in a way. And thats what makes a movie a movie. Its a process of a transformation of consciousness of the main character. Its all transformation. So for me, again, in the Vin Diagram of making movies, the set designer is also a comedienne, and the main comedic force is also a set designer, its one in the same. Its sort of like being a stunt coordinator, you know. Everybody is working towards the collective entertainment, you know what I mean? Its a very democratic process.
Do you feel working in that kind of process, that it can be a bit constraining you know, maybe they are not getting your ideas the way you want or are you open to having others say, Mike, this isnt going to work, lets try this
Its my greatest joy. When I sent Justin Timberlake the script, he shot back like twenty ideas and twenty questions. So the dialogue was thrilling. And to me, the most thrilling aspect of it is beginning dialogue with people. They make it better, thousands of professionals I work with who make it better. In this case Charles Wood, the set designer made it better. Eugene McCarthy, the prop guy Ive worked with over and over again. Marguerite Derricks, my choreographer Ive worked with over and over again. John Houlihan, the music supervisor Ive worked with over and over again. Marco was an assistant to Jay Roach, so he did the second unit on Austin one, through all the Austins and both MEET THE PARENTS and MEET THE FOCKERS. So I because Jay is one of my best friends, you know, Jay is somebody Ive had a consistent dialogue with. He reads everything that Ive written. And I try and read everything that hes working on. I did get a chance to read RECOUNT, and that was wonderful. Unbelievably great.
Another project weve heard about HOW TO SURVIVE A ROBOT UPRISING ?
That I am no longer part of. Its part of that the twenty development things that comes and goes. Whats remarkable to me is not the movies I begin to work on and didnt do because its probably at a twenty to one ratio. Whats remarkable to me is the stuff that did get made, and that it got made is still a miracle to me, after all these years of doing it, is that birthing process. But yeah, its a great area that just didnt turn the corner for me. But its a wonderful area. But there are a lot of planes circling the airport.
Let me know what you think. Send questions and comments to JimmyO@joblo.com.
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