'Wayne's World' 25 Years Later: How Mike Myers and Dana Carvey Found Their Inner Rock Stars

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Photo: Paramount Pictures
The tagline did not lie. We laughed. We cried. We hurled. Wayne’s World premiered 25 years ago today! Speaking to ET throughout the film’s production, stars Mike Myers and Dana Carvey discussed the origin of the popular Saturday Night Live characters as they were making their film debut. When Wayne (Myers) and Garth (Carvey) hit the big screen in 1992, it had been over a decade since The Blues Brothers, SNL’s first foray into feature films. Debuting in 1989, the characters appeared on the sketch comedy institution several times with guests that included Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis, Mary Tyler Moore and Madonna. The 1990 sketch with Hanks proved especially memorable (“sibilance”), with Aerosmith jamming out a cover of the Wayne’s World theme song and Myers’ titular character evolving in real time. It may have proved to be a vital tipping point toward its future movie adaptation, as development on the screenplay began that year. “I was doing this character in 1981 in Canada and previous to that, I was doing this character because that's how I talked,” Myers told ET at the time. “It’s sort of based on everybody I went to high school with.” FLASHBACK: Working Out With Adam Sandler, Chris Farley and Mike Myers in 1993 Growing up in Toronto, Myers was a comedy fan from a young age, dreaming of one day being able to perform at Second City and even testing out Mr. Campbell while still in school. “The first place I did Wayne was in kitchens at parties to make girls laugh,” Myers said. The act must have gone over pretty well, as he wasted no time in making his dream come true upon graduating (cue Laverne and Shirley intro). “And then on my last day of high school, my last exam was at nine, my audition for Second City was at 12, and I was hired at three,” he said. It was at the improv mecca where Myers first started performing as Wayne for audiences. When he began making appearances on the Canadian channel MuchMusic, the character had yet to gain a talk show and loyal sidekick. Upon getting hired on SNL, Myers realized he needed a way to integrate Wayne within the show’s parameters, such as having only one set and a time limit. He eventually got inspiration while taking a tour of a cable access studio after moving to NYC. With the added detail of Wayne doing the show out of his basement, he was almost ready for air. But first, he needed a Garth. As a character in the sketches, Garth took his co-hosting duties seriously, often simply reinforcing Wayne’s comments and holding the top 10 list displays. Early on in the development of the film adaptation, there were even drafts of the script where Garth was entirely absent, reducing him to a brief cameo. Thankfully, we live in the “super happy ending” universe. Carvey didn’t need to look far, either, when crafting Wayne’s sidekick and probable future Lip Sync Battle winner for “Foxy Lady.” Instead he ran with the material, swiping scenes away from Myers and revealing several new dimensions of the red rope licorice enthusiast. “Garth is actually based on my brother Brad,” Carvey explained. “He goes, ‘Hi. Hi.’ And he's always saying incredible things like with total understatement. ‘Yeah, I made a nuclear reactor out of a paper clip. Is that good?’” FLASHBACK: A 21-Year-Old Eddie Murphy Talks 'Saturday Night Live' “In the movie, you learn things about Garth; that he’s actually pretty technically brilliant and can make things and such,” Carvey said of the film, revealing another detail he took from his brother. The character’s introversion and shyness with women, though, was all from personal experience. “I was like Garth in high school. I would like girls for two years and then never say a word. I mean literally two years of, ‘Tomorrow. Tomorrow, I’ll ask her out. But today, I won’t. Because tomorrow I can.’” After the film’s release, any concerns about Wayne and Garth being able to attract more than just the SNL audience were deemed “mental.” The movie raked in over $120 million at the domestic box office, which was all the more impressive considering its $20 million budget. The movie also inspired a resurgence of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which had been released 17 years prior. Later that year, the infamous sing-along and the film’s soundtrack album would land the song at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The country’s lexicon also saw some new additions. Phrases such as “most excellent,” “schwing” and “Baberaham Lincoln” were now here to stay. After playing what would be one of his many antagonist characters throughout the ’90s, Rob Lowe was stunned at the movie’s influence on pop culture, as well as politics. “I saw some candidate, I don’t remember which one, the other day saying, ‘And everything is going to be great if we stay this course in four years…not!’” Lowe said. “I said, ‘Oh, my god. It’s come to this.’” And this
Myers immediately kept up the momentum, creating Austin Powers and portraying the international man of mystery across three films. With Gen X firmly under his belt, he became a megastar to a new generation as the voice of Shrek, which included four films and several specials.
Meanwhile, Carvey’s ability to mimic seemingly any celebrity he wants has sustained his status as a national treasure. He most recently hosted SNL in 2011 and has made several guest appearances over the years, doing everything from reprising his take on George Bush Sr. to making Justin Bieber uncomfortable as the Church Lady. Last month, Carvey stopped by Hallmark’s Home and Family to discuss his process of crafting the perfect Donald Trump impression. "I was on stage the other night doing stand-up, and I started to do Trump," Carvey recounted to hosts Regis Philbin and his wife, Joy. "And I figured out that the way I got Trump was I started with you, then I added [Marlon] Brando, and that gave me Trump." Keep partying, guys!