At one point he was one of the biggest names in showbiz. From Saturday Night Live to Austin Powers to Shrek, Mike Myers had it all. And then, he didn’t. Here’s the story of how Mike Myers went from the top to on the outside looking in.
MIKE MYERS BECOMES A STAR
Mike Myers joined the cast of Saturday Night Live (SNL) in 1989 and with his arrival, he brought with him a host of characters. One of those characters, Wayne Campbell from Wayne’s World fame, actually made his initial appearance a couple of years earlier on the TV show It’s Only Rock and Roll. Thankfully, Myers brought Wayne to SNL because along with comedian Dana Carvey, the two created two of the most popular characters to ever grace the small and big screens: Wayne and Garth.
Myers’s time on SNL was filled with memorable moments and creations. Dieter. Linda Richman. Pat Arnold (“Da Bears”), and Stuart Rankin (who pretty much turned into Stuart Mackenzie in So I Married An Axe Murderer). The comedy was golden and classic, showing just what kind of talent Mike Myers possessed.
During his time on SNL, Myers was honing his craft. His last full season on the show was in 1994. He made a couple appearances in 1995 and that’s when he decided to make the jump to full-time feature film making.
WAYNE CAMPBELL AND CHARLIE MACKENZIE
Mike Myers, along with Dana Carvey, took Wayne’s World to new heights. They made the feature Wayne’s World in 1992, following that hit with Wayne’s World 2 in 1993. That year also saw Mike Myers as two characters in the comedy So I Married An Axe Murderer. He played both Charlie Mackenzie and his very Scottish father, Stuart Mackenzie (“Heid! Pants! Now!”). Another hit for Myers. His star was rising.
After his two appearances on SNL in ’95, Myers sat down to create one of his most memorable (and hilarious) characters. Actually, he created two of them.
It took a couple of years, but Myers burst back onto the scene with the huge comedy hit Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. It was at once shagadelic, a fun and naughty parody of all things James Bond.
It had a titular hero in Austin Powers and ultimate villain in Myers’s other creation, Dr. Evil. It had the beautiful women (Elizabeth Hurley in the first Austin Powers) and the hilarious Dr. Evil’s henchmen. It had everything to tickle the funny bone and then some.
It worked so well that Myers brought back his characters two more times in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me and Austin Powers in Goldmember. Perhaps the comedy wore a little thin as the series progressed, but it was still good fun.
MIKE MYERS IS LIKE AN ONION
It was also during this time that Mike Myers found himself with another big hit on his hands. This time, though, you’d never see him on the screen, you’d only hear him. We are talking about Shrek.
In a sad fact of fate, the voice role of Shrek was never intended for Mike Myers. The role was initially going to comedian and fellow SNL cast member Chris Farley, who tragically died in 1997. Myers took his place and history was made. Myers appeared as Shrek on four occasions, all massive hits.
THE SPROCKETS FIASCO
You would think with Mike Myers’s rising star that all was kosher. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Myers was trying to bring another of his famous SNL characters to the big screen in Dieter, from his SNL Sprockets sketches. The movie was also to star Will Ferrell as his American cousin and Jack Black as a professional monkey tracker.
But problems arose from the script, which by the way, Mike Myers co-wrote. His idea versus what the movie company wanted were two different things. As changes were being requested, Myers found he was liking the script less and less. So, he walked away from the movie. This after two years and reportedly 14 different drafts of the script. Mike Myers was to earn $20 million for the project, a portion of which he’d already been paid and he ultimately returned.
Universal wasn’t having any of it. Even though Myers was the co-writer and creator of the character, him walking away after the money Universal put into the pre-production did not sit well at all. Not only that, but it also forced Universal to fire the others involved in the movie. So, Universal decided to sue Myers for $5 million. This after Steven Spielberg attempted to bring the two parties together on an agreement.
Next, Imagine Entertainment decided it too was going to sue Mike Myers. This one was $30 million. But Meyers wasn’t going to go down quietly. He countersued Universal for more than $20 million, claiming he was stalked by the man hired to serve him, among other things. At the time, Myers released a statement, via IGN, concerning walking away from Dieter. He said he was glad he walked away because he could not “in good conscience accept $20 million and cheat moviegoers who pay their hard-earned money to see my work by making a movie with an unacceptable script.”
THE CAT IN THE HAT FIASCO
A meeting of the minds was had. Cooler heads prevailed with thanks going to those (Spielberg?) at DreamWorks. An out-of-court settlement was reached between Universal, Imagine, and Mike Myers. Everyone would drop their lawsuits if Myers would agree to star in a Universal/Imagine/Dreamworks co-production. The movie? You guessed it. Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat. Yes, that is the movie they agreed upon.
While the movie may have tickled the funny bone of some, a Dr. Seuss movie is typically intended for the young. The main complaint about this version of The Cat in the Hat was a lot of the material was aimed more at adults. It didn’t go over well. Not only this, but Mike Myers was building a reputation and not a good one.
MIKE MYERS: DIVA?
A man following a movie star around the set, whose only job appeared to be feeding said star chocolates from a Tupperware container. That is how The Cat in the Hat co-star Amy Hill described her time on the set with Mike Myers. She explained this in an interview with The A.V. Club, stopping short of calling him a diva, but also said he constantly made the cast and crew wait while he micromanaged.
Hill wasn’t the only one who to call out Mike Myers on-set antics. EW did a profile on Myers in 2008 in which Wayne’s World’s director said Myers got more difficult as the shoot went along” and she actually had to bring in her daughter to be a snack wrangler for the actor.
Even producer Rob Fried from So I Married an Axe Murderer had this to say to The Telegraph about Myers, “I think Mike’s a visionary, but his way of getting what he wants is to remote and threaten and express anger.”
THE FUTURE OF MIKE MYERS
Do we need to talk about The Love Guru? Didn’t think so.
The difficulty in working with Mike Myers may possibly be the reason he has practically disappeared from Hollywood. Sure, he’s made a few brief appearances such as Inglorious Basterds in 2009 and a wonderful dramatic turn in 2018’s Oscar-winning biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. His last big venture was on the small screen with his reboot of the classic game show The Gong Show. He played host Tommy Maitland bring guests up on stage to perform an act for three judges would who like them or gong them.
It seems now Netflix is taking a chance on the mercurial actor. They’re giving Mike Myers a half-hour series and six episodes. Not much information is known about the show though it appears Myers will be playing multiple characters. Myers said in a statement via Variety, “I love creating characters, and Netflix has given me a fantastic playground to play in.” There is no premiere date for the upcoming series.
And finally, there is always Austin Powers 4. This movie has been on the books for some time, again though, not much is known about the project. It’s been 18 years since the last Austin Powers movie and by the time Mike Myers has his script perfected, we may be well over 20 years.