Once one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, Mike Myers hasn’t been seen on the big screen since his cameo in Inglourious Basterds in 2009. Other than providing a Scottish brogue for a certain surly animated ogre, he’s all but dropped out of the movies. Now, Myers is back in a different role, as the director of Supermensch, a documentary in select theaters now about music manager and legendary schmoozer Shep Gordon. As he returns to the public eye, he’s starting to open up about a few of the rumors — or, as he refers to them, “Paul Bunyan-esque lore” — that have followed him over the course of his career. His most revealing interview to date may be his visit to Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, which went live on Monday. Here are 9 things we learned about Myers from listening to his conversation with Maron.
—Comedy ultimately brought Myers fame, but he was a pretty serious kid; at age 12, his biggest passions were architecture and French New Wave films. “I thought I was going to be John Cassavetes…. I thought I was going to create a film movement called Canadian neo-realism,” he told Maron.
—Myers is aware of his reputation for being “difficult,” and said it came from being involved in so many aspects of his films. “What people don’t realize is that I write, create and own the things that I do. So when I call up the marketing department, they go, ‘That’s not in the movie star handbook. You’re not supposed to call up the marketing department.’ And I go, ‘What should I do?… I’m the producer and the creator and the owner of this thing that I wrote.’”
—One thing Myers is proud of sticking up for is the “Bohemian Rhapsody” scene in Wayne’s World, his first movie. The producers wanted to replace the classic rock song by Queen with one by Guns N’ Roses, a more popular band in 1991. “I fought really, really hard for it. At one point I said to everybody, ‘Well, I’m out, I don’t want to make this movie if it’s not ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’” he recalled. After the release of the film, the 1975 song went to no. 1 for the second time.
—Another of his ideas for Wayne’s World was to “take a page out of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure” and set the movie in an ambiguous time period. “I was 30 at the time, playing an indeterminate aged teenager, and it was 1991 that we shot it, with music and a car from 1974. So you weren’t quite sure what year it was,” he said. “I was trying to make an immaculate universe. It truly was Wayne’s world, if you will.”
—The first time the studio screened Austin Powers, only two people in the test audience were familiar with James Bond. Myers told them he’d rather they not release the film than rewrite all the jokes to be less Bond-specific.
—The role of animated ogre Shrek was originally offered to Chris Farley, a fact that nobody wanted Myers to know. “I guessed it right. They weren’t going to tell me,” he said. “I was working on [the movie] and I looked at the maquette of Shrek, you know, the little clay model that they make, and I said, ‘Was this offered to Farley? It looks like Chris Farley.’” Only two years ago did he learn that Farley had actually laid down tracks for Shrek before he died.
—The story that Myers insisted on re-recording all of Shrek’s dialogue in a Scottish accent is true. However, it didn’t cost the studio “millions of dollars,” as rumored. “What it meant is instead of me going in for ten sessions, I went in for twenty sessions. I got paid the same,” he clarified. Myers tried using his “Lothar of the Hill People” voice and a thick Canadian accent before arriving at a Scottish accent. “I thought, well, Scottish people are fantastic at being super-happy and then getting super-mad,” he said, “and I thought, that’s an ogre!”
—As evidence that re-recording Shrek was the right decision, Myers keeps a framed letter from producer Steven Spielberg thanking him for “taking the time to redo it.”
—The documentary Supermensch is Myers’ directorial debut, but he may be getting serious about pursuing a directing career. “[When I was younger] I thought I was going to make documentaries and do improvised movies… Which I still might do,” he told Maron.