When Simon Pegg turned up on the Budapest set of his latest film, Terminal, he had some personal business to attend to with Mike Myers, his co-star in the stylish noir-inspired thriller. Yes, the Mike Myers whose alter egos include Wayne Campbell, Shrek the ogre, and, of course, Austin Powers. It was specifically the Austin Powers persona that Pegg needed to talk to Myers about. The British-born Star Trek star wasn’t looking to accuse Myers of denigrating his native country’s long tradition of cinematic superspies. Instead, Pegg wanted to thank the Canadian comic actor for doing good friend Edgar Wright a solid.
Pegg and Wright go way back, of course, originally meeting on the late ’90s TV series Spaced and going on to collaborate on the cult Cornetto Trilogy, encompassing 2004’s Shaun of the Dead, 2007’s Hot Fuzz, and 2013’s The World’s End. In recent years they’ve followed separate paths, with Pegg appearing in mega film franchises like Star Trek and Mission: Impossible while Wright scored a big hit with 2017’s zippy crime picture Baby Driver. A centerpiece sequence in Baby Driver finds the characters donning Austin Powers masks to pull off a bank robbery. As the creator of the fish-out-of water ’60s refugee, Myers had to sign off on Wright using his character’s likeness.
And apparently, Wright was very persuasive in making his case. “Mike gave permission for that,” Pegg tells Yahoo Entertainment. “Edgar told me about it, so when I met Mike for the first time on Terminal, I was really grateful to him for giving Edgar an easy time.” Not for nothing, but it benefited Myers too. When Halloween rolled around, sales of Austin Powers masks reportedly shot up courtesy of Baby Driver. According to Terminal’s director, Vaughn Stein, the production was occasionally visited by other members of the Austin Powers cinematic universe as well. “Do you know how hard it is not to laugh when a focus puller is using a laser to line up a shot, and Mike turns to the camera and goes, ‘La-zer,’ like Dr. Evil?” he says, chuckling. “He’s a brilliant, brilliant guy.” (Not for nothing, but Myers might have been rehearsing for the Dr. Evil-centric Austin Powers movie he’s eager to make.)
Myers is also a guy who can be highly selective when it comes to taking on new characters, largely because he likes to intensively immerse himself in building them from the ground up. In the case of Terminal, which opens in theaters and on VOD on May 11, Stein says the actor personally involved himself in designing the prosthetics and false teeth he’d wear as Quinten, a mysterious janitor who observes a twisty plot involving such noir archetypes as gun-toting hitmen (Max Irons and Dexter Fletcher), a man with a dark past (Pegg), and a femme fatale (Margot Robbie). “Mike always says that it’s about the silhouette — creating a three-dimensional character that utilizes comedy and caricature, but is also a fully rounded person,” says Stein. “He works so hard and diligently at knowing his characters inside and out.”
Pegg experienced that intensity firsthand when he and Myers spent a long night in a Budapest subway station shooting their only scene together. “The way we worked, we never really went back to trailers,” he says. “We’d shoot a setup, there’d be a bit of hanging out, and then we’d be back to work. When you’ve got loads of dialogue and the scene is quite intense, it’s not like you hang out between shots. We were both really concentrating; having come from comedy, we were keen to make sure this scene didn’t feel flippant or overly relied on our comedic chops.” Still, Pegg says Myers wasn’t so Method that he demanded special treatment on set. “It wasn’t like, ‘I can’t speak to Mike, because he’s not Mike today,'” he jokes. “It wasn’t Jim & Andy level. He was fun to work with.”
Terminal opens in theaters, on demand, and on Digital HD on Friday.
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