On the surface, Wayne's World 2 might have seemed like a lighthearted sequel to the massively popular buddy-comedy, starring Mike Myers and Dana Carvey. But behind the scenes, the lead-up to production was rife with in-fighting - so much that, at one point, it left the film's star curled up in a fetal position on the couch of one of Hollywood's biggest execs.
In his new biography of legendary studio chief Sherry Lansing, Leading Lady (out April 25 from Crown Archetype), THR editor Stephen Galloway writes that the then-Paramount chairman made an unfortunate discovery weeks before shooting was due to commence: Myers had heavily based the sequel on the 1949 British comedy Passport to Pimlico - only, nobody had bought the underlying rights.
"Mike had always wanted to do Passport to Pimlico as the basis of Wayne's World," said SNL creator Lorne Michaels, who produced the comedy. "So he went and wrote it. I think he believed the studio understood that, and I think he even believed they had bought the rights to the other movie so that he was free to use it."
If the movie had entered into production sans rights, the Pimlico rights holders could have barred the new film from being released; but if Paramount now tried to obtain the rights, the process could take months, horribly delaying production. Promotional materials and the marketing campaign for the movie would have had to be scrapped at a major cost to the studio.
The only feasible option was to completely rewrite the script.
Furious, Lansing summoned Myers to her office and told him exactly that - in much different (and harsher) words. Remembers one participant in the Myers-Lansing meeting: "She said, 'How dare you? How dare you put us in this position?' She turned to Mike and said, 'We'll sue you. We'll take your f - king house. You won't even own a f - ing home.'"
The verbal scathing went on, with Lansing adding a special twist, as then-production chief John Goldwyn recalled: "She made up this fabulous story about all of the lawyers sitting with [Paramount Communications executive] Stanley Jaffe. She said, 'As I'm sitting here with you, there's a team figuring out how they can take every single thing away from you.' "
Myers believed it, and was so shaken that he curled up in a fetal position on Lansing's couch.
Said Lansing: "If I were you, Mike, I'd go to Lorne's office right now, and stay there until you come up with a new script. We'll slide food under the door."
Myers did as he was told and rewrote the script, this time focusing on his character Wayne's quest to put on a rock show at the advice of a Jim Morrison apparition. The movie came out, as planned, in December 1993. It wasn't anything like the hit he and Paramount might have hoped for.
Myers never worked for Lansing again.