'Wayne's World' 25 Years Later: How Mike Myers and Dana Carvey Found Their Inner Rock Stars
By Joseph Bergren
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.”
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
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?’
“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.
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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."