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It has been 30 years since Wayne Campbell (Mike Myers) and Garth Algar (Dana Carvey) made the leap from a recurring, popular Saturday Night Live sketch to the big screen in what would become the most successful movie based on characters from Lorne Michaels’ iconic NBC late night sketch show.
Released on Feb. 14, 1992, Wayne’s World was a massive (and shocking to director Penelope Spheeris) box office success, raking in $183 million worldwide on a $20 million budget. The movie would become an instant pop-culture staple. “Party on! Shwing! Not! Sh’yeah!” and of course, “We’re not worthy!” are just some examples of the vernacular that was immediately injected into everyday conversation. A 1993 sequel failed to re-create the original’s magic and box office returns.
The film revolving around Wayne and Garth taking their kitsch public access show to the industry big leagues, with all the hilarious trials and tribulations that follow, was also popular with the critics, a rare feat for a picture based on SNL characters (Wayne’s World is certified fresh at 78 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.)
To celebrate Wayne’s World‘s milestone anniversary and Tuesday’s release of a limited-edition Blu-ray steelbook of the film, The Hollywood Reporter caught up with director Spheeris to talk about legacy, laughs, Meat Loaf, Chris Farley, alleged clashes with Myers, and, naturally, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” among much more.
It’s been 30 years and people are still quoting the movie. How do you feel about the legacy of Wayne’s World?
I am absolutely astounded and amazed that it has survived these 30 years and is still in good favor. We had no idea when we made the movie that it would even be around for a week, and now here it is 30 years later. It is indescribably gratifying. It was a magical combination of cast and crew and a magical moment. There is no other way to explain it.
What was the experience like of working on the film with Lorne, and what was his reaction to its massive success?
I knew Lorne before he started Saturday Night Live. And I worked on SNL in the early days. Lorne wasn’t around a lot during the shoot. In the 40 years I have known him, the number one thing in his life is Saturday Night Live. Everything else is secondary. And I think he was, like me, surprised and appreciative of the audience reception. I remember him saying, “This only happens once in a lifetime.” And I thought, “Oh, come on now. I can do it again.” (Laughs.) But guess what? Only once in a lifetime. It really helped all of our careers.
Sadly, we just lost Meat Loaf. He has that great cameo as the bouncer Tiny. How did that come to be?
Meat Loaf and I were friends before the movie, I wanted him to play the bouncer. So, [Michaels] let that happen. He was a sweetheart. And we also have a little cameo from Chris Farley. I remember Lorne called me up and says, “I’ve got this fantastic guy named Chris Farley. He’s really afraid of the camera, so be really careful when dealing with him.” He was so shy, but that was part of his charm. Robert Patrick also had that great cameo as the Terminator cop. (Laughs.) We’re still friends.
Speaking of great cameos, Ed O’Neill steals the scene as Glen in Stan Mikita’s Donuts.
You know, when I read that, I was like, “I don’t get it, you guys. Why is this guy going off like this? But OK, I’ll shoot it anyway.” And it was hilarious. And Ed never broke character. Even between takes, he just sat there, talking to himself about psycho stuff. (Laughs.)
“Bohemian Rhapsody” is not only a classic moment in the film but in movie history. How long did that take to accomplish?
We were towing the car down the streets in Covina. I had cameras all over the car because I needed the coverage for the title sequence. The guys were complaining after a while — and I don’t blame them — as they were headbanging for six or eight hours. Unless you’re Dave [Mustaine] from Megadeth, you’re not used to having your head bang about like that. So it was very uncomfortable for them, and I was asked to stop a couple of times. And the rest of history.
We don’t need to rehash the alleged clash between you and Mike, but I am curious if you would have done anything differently and what advice you have for younger filmmakers who butt heads with their stars.
I am going to break the myth right now. When we were shooting Wayne’s World, there really were no clashes with the actors. The reason people think that is I wasn’t able to direct Wayne’s World 2 because I didn’t want to make any cuts to the first one that they asked me to do. And that was the only point of contention that we had, honestly. I have had collisions with actors [on other projects] before, one was Rip Torn and the other was Molly Shannon. My advice to young people who may have a problem is if you think you’re right, call their agent and fink them out. (Laughs.)
Interview edited for length and clarity.
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