The first thing Mike Myers says as he walks into the room is "I couldn’t find
my clothes." Of course, he is wearing clothes, but he’s referring to his other
clothes, ones he was hoping to wear for the interview. Instead, he is in a grey T shirt
with a NASA baseball cap, and clutches a brandy baloon filled with cola. Or so he insists.
If it weren’t for this being an expensive French hotel on the Riviera (we were at the
Cannes film festival together….well, at the same time), who would believe him? Oh,
did I mention his jeans? He’s wearing some.
"Myers is not the airhead or the buffoon his screen
personas would lead you to believe"
Myers explains that he couldn’t find his clothes simply because his luggage was
unpacked by the hotel’s fiendishly attentive house staff, him being a big star and
all. That’s the price of fame, he could (but doesn’t) say.
One thing, though, his teeth are fine. After seeing him as Austin Powers in The Spy Who
Shagged Me, I had scribbled down the name of a highly regarded cosmetic dentist. But no
Jet lagged but jovial, Myers is not the airhead or the buffoon his screen personas
would lead you to believe. But he’s not dull, either. Like many comedians, his brain
has developed a capacity to stay in second gear, revving faster than anyone else in the
The Spy Who Shagged Me, as you Myers fans all know, is the sequel to International Man
of Mystery, which was possibly the first screenplay in Hollywood history that was
greenlighted in a single day, when New Line executives made a decision so fast that their
hair parted. What you may not know is that it was basically a tribute to Myers’ dad,
a Liverpudlian who migrated to Canada with a very young Mike and the rest of the family.
"The house became a shrine to England," Myers recalls.
"I had two options: suicide or get funny." And so
Mike Myers the comic was born – out of fear.
Myers senior was a funny chap, so much so he wouldn’t tolerate anyone in the house
who wasn’t. That included his kids, and Mike recalls a dreadful day when his mum told
him straight: "Mike, you’re not funny." As Myers now tells it, with the
Liverpudlian twirl to the vowels, you can sense how this message propelled the young
boy’s imagination. "I had two options: suicide or get funny." And so Mike
Myers the comic was born – out of fear.
When his dad died in 1991, Myers was on the threshold of his first major success, with
the release of Wayne’s World. "It was a strange coincidence of events," he
says with a sad look. Not long after that, he heard snatches of a Burt Bacharach song and
the music triggered an idea for a 60s setting. What better to use than one of the classic
structures of 60s filmmaking, the spy movie. And who better than the Brits at that? Bond,
"I am introverted, so I like to play extroverts"
"The Bond films use a classic structure of a hero’s journey, with set
elements that you can replicate all the time," he says, running through the elements
rapidly. As for the Austin Powers character, he says it was a natural for him. "I am
introverted, so I like to play extroverts, and I like Dr Evil because I have no formal
education but I like to wax lyrical on various subjects."
Dr Evil, and his miniature clone, Mini Me, are symptomatic of Myers’ comedic
approach: "I like to have many personas… not like some comics who have one very
He describes Austin Powers as a cosmic in joke; "but he’s very flawed, and
maybe that’s why young kids like him so much."