Schwing! Mike Myers & Dana Carvey's 'Wayne's World' Reunion Recap
by Ben Pearson
April 25, 2013
On Tuesday evening, The Academy hosted a 21st anniversary reunion screening of Wayne's World, the "Saturday Night Live"-inspired comedy movie from 1992, at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. Paramount provided a new print of the movie, and before the film there was a panel discussion that featured cast members Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, and Rob Lowe along with director Penelope Spheeris and producer Lorne Michaels. Hawk Koch, the current president of the Academy and also the film's executive producer, moderated the panel, and we've recapped some of the best bits from the reunion event. Party on!
There's a lot of strained history between many of the participants on stage, so it doesn't surprise me that they got Koch — someone was specifically involved with the film and likely knew about all those behind the scenes struggles — to moderate and avoid all of the tough topics. The two stars of the film supposedly had a falling out because Myers jacked one of Carvey's voices for his Dr. Evil character without crediting Carvey for it, and Myers reportedly butted heads with Spheeris in the editing room and, the story goes, made sure she didn't come back to direct the sequel.
But everyone played nice on the panel. Myers, sitting farthest away from Spheeris on stage, had kind things to say to his former director when asked about the experience as a whole:
"It was amazing. Everybody was just at the top of their game. What's always lovely is when - Penelope definitely made it better than written, which is always what you hope for, and you created such a great atmosphere on set."
Spheeris seemed genuinely excited to be there, regaling us with stories of how Myers used to wander around doing impressions of her and other crew members to entertain everyone while the director of photography worked on lighting setups. Carvey chimed in with praise for the director, too:
"I'd never been in a movie like there where Mike and I had so much freedom. Usually you had to do forty takes, and this was just incredibly cool that we got all this freedom. In fact, I'd like to thank Penelope, because a lot of times I would do some Garth schtick, and Penelope would say, 'If you can do it ten seconds faster, I can keep it in the movie.'"
"You're welcome," Spheeris replied. "We learned long ago from Lorne that the message was: faster and funnier." Michaels and Myers recalled how the sketch first came about as "Wayne's Power Minute" on a Canadian show before "Saturday Night Live," and how it originally aired late in the show, and was set in a set in a terrible "black hole" section of the stages where "the audience can't see you" and "the sound is bad." But Michaels seemed to look at that as a challenge, saying, "You know if it works there, it's going to be all right." The sketch eventually moved its way up to home base, the main stage, and often opened the show.
After the sketch became a wildly popular hit on the show, Myers eventually came to Michaels with the idea to develop it into a feature length film. Paramount cared enough to greenlight the project, but apparently didn't take the project very seriously, giving the team a lot of freedom to make it the way they wanted to. Myers recalled his first reactions to the original pitch and how he thought it went:
"I didn't think they were going to release the movie. I didn't think they liked it. The initial feedback when we handed in the script, Lorne said that somebody [at Paramount] said, 'I don't get it.' That was the note... routinely, they didn't have my name at the gate. So I actually wondered if we actually were making the film there. I was like, 'I'm almost certain we're making it at Paramount!'"
Dana Carvey also spoke briefly about how he initially became involved with the character of Garth:
"Mike came in and he was the young upstart, and looked about 13. I was in my mid-40s at the point [everyone laughs] and Mike asked me to be his sidekick on his sketch Wayne's World and play this character. Mike just said, 'Garth loves Wayne. He digs him.' And there was, of course, the Ritalin aspect, so there was a lot of suggestion about the character, and since Mike was a brunette, I went for blond."
Rob Lowe, who said he "owe[d] Lorne and Mike [his] comedy career," talked about how he first came on board the project, which began when he first met Myers and the rest of the group when he hosted "SNL." Myers offered Lowe the choice between doing a Wayne's World sketch or another sketch, and because Lowe "didn't get Wayne's World at ALL," they ended up going with the other sketch instead. But he ended up doing so well as the host of the show (Myers called him "one of the best hosts ever") that he got the call to be involved with the movie version of Wayne's World when it moved forward. For Lowe, who had starred in many movies before that, it was strange to see Myers headlining a movie when he'd never even been in one.
"They were learning how to make movies. That, I knew. But I was learning how to be professionally funny and that's something that takes a lot of time, but I had great masters to learn from."
But things weren't all fun and games for Myers while he was having this intense learning experience. He was going through some tough personal issues at the time, as he admitted during the Q&A:
"It was a weird time for me, too, because my dad had just died. So for me, it was such a mixed blessing. My dad was dying during the making of it, and then he died, and it was just such a strange – the call was either horrible news, or the best news in the world. Actually, to be honest with you, I really don't remember that year at all. I remember finishing the film and I remember my dad dying and then I remember just Dana and I being strapped to the front of a rocket and me putting on 25 pounds."
He did remember one aspect of production - the notes from the studio that he didn't particularly care for:
"There's two scenes I resisted that were sort of like, 'We need a joke here,' and in my Canadian 'What? You can't change things!' way, and one was the Terminator thing [Robert Patrick's cameo]. I was like, 'It's not funny, dude. It's not funny!' And people went shithouse over it. The other one was Lara Flynn Boyle hitting the car. The studio note was, 'We need something funny like a girl hitting a car on a bike.' And I was like, 'You can't dial up a joke like that! It has to be organic!' And every screening, people were like [mimics crowds rising to their feet and clapping in slow motion]."
Carvey then chimed in: "Women were giving birth that weren't pregnant." So Myers eventually relented. "I was like, 'What do I know?'" he said. And of course, no Wayne's World discussion would be complete without referencing the famous "Bohemian Rhapsody" sequence, which gave the infamous Queen song new life and secured its head-banging place in pop culture. Myers recalled how that scene first came about:
"I always loved Queen. I thought it amazing that this band had an operatic song that was like nine minutes long. I was afraid that we were taking a whiz on a Picasso at that point, it's such an amazing song. When I was growing up, a friend of mine had a Dodge Dart Swinger that was kind of like our Mirth Mobile and every time 'Bohemian Rhapsody' would come on, everybody had a 'Galileo.' If you took somebody's Galileo, you got slugged.
The greatest experience I had with that was being in a casino in France...I was going up the escalator, and the guy who runs the casino had seen me and put on 'Bohemian Rhapsody.' This is like ten years later. I got really embarrassed, and I wanted to get out of there and it was a big escalator going up. It was all super crazy-rich people from Luxembourg and the Benelux region, and when the part goes [mimics guitar riff], I saw three thousand heads go [mimics head banging], with furs and everything. I was like, 'That's awesome!'"
Other than that, there weren't many other notable moments beyond the movie itself. Michaels did reveal that Dennis Hopper was being considered to play the role of Wayne's dad, but when the filmmakers realized they only had a limited amount of days on set before the cast had to get to work on "Saturday Night Live," that father character was eventually rolled into the part of Benjamin (Rob Lowe). When asked why Wayne's World is as popular now as it was back then, Michaels had the perfect response:
"I think because in its spirit, it was designed in every way to be fun... It has no other agenda. It really is people at the peak of their talent putting on a show."
That sounds like a mega happy ending. Do you have fond memories of watching Wayne's World? Leave us a comment below and tell us what you think of the film. Wayne's World is available for purchase on Blu-ray through Amazon right now, and if we're lucky maybe Wayne's World 3 will happen at some point soon.