Mike Myers Fired "Wayne's World" Director From Sequel for Rejecting His 11 Pages of Notes
Penelope Spheeris wasn't hired to direct the sequel movie for refusing to cut classic scenes.
Wayne's World went from being a recurring Saturday Night Live sketch to one of the most popular comedy movies of all time. And while Mike Myers created the main character (Wayne Campbell originated on the Canadian series It's Only Rock & Roll before Myers brought him to SNL), the actor ended up collaborating with many others on the 1992 film, including director Penelope Spheeris. The filmmaker had her own vision for Wayne's World, and it didn't always align with Myers'. Though the first feature film adaptation of the sketch was a huge hit, Spheeris wasn't hired to direct the sequel, and she explained why that was the star's call in a new interview.
Speaking on The Hollywood Reporter podcast It Happened in Hollywood, Spheeris recounted how Myers fired her from Wayne's World 2 after she didn't incorporate the "11 pages of notes" he gave her for the original movie. Read on to find out more.
Myers was unhappy with Spheeris' cut of the movie.
Spheeris has said that shooting the film with Myers—who co-wrote the movie with Bonnie and Terry Turner—was a mostly positive experience, but that they clashed during post-production. The director explained on It Happened In Hollywood that Myers' father died around the time that the edit was completed and test screenings began, so he wasn't on hand to see the positive reaction from test audiences.
"I got great audience reaction in the testing setting," Spheeris said. "That's when the crap hit the fan. He wasn't there to witness the incredible audience reaction and look at the test cards and realize that we had something on our hands."
Instead, Myers watched the movie alone and gave Spheeris what she described as 11 pages of single-spaced notes on a legal pad. "Most of them sucked," she said of the notes, which she explained were mostly suggestions for scenes to be cut.
Spheeris says she was fired from the sequel for refusing to make his changes.
Spheeris felt confident that the movie would suffer if she took all of Myers' suggestions, though she did use some of them. She told this to SNL creator and producer of the movie Lorne Michaels and to executives at Paramount Pictures.
"Lorne took me aside and said, 'Penelope, if you don't change the movie, you won't be able to direct Wayne's World 2. Mike's not going to approve you,'" she said.
Spheeris said that both Michaels and the executives said that she would have to tell Myers herself that she wasn't going to take his notes.
"So I told him," she said. "And I got canned." Still, she was disappointed when she really didn't get hired for the sequel after the success of Wayne's World, explaining that she "cried for two weeks."
"And then I got over it," she added.
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The movie was a huge hit.
Wayne's World made $183 million at the box office and became a pop culture phenomenon due to its many memorable quotes and scenes. The 1993 sequel from director Stephen Surjik didn't fare as well, making only $48 million.
In 2022, Spheeris spoke to Variety about not getting to direct the sequel. Asked if she thought sexism played a role in her not being hired for Wayne's World 2, she said, "I think throughout my career, I always just thought I was doing a really difficult job. I didn't say, 'Oh, I'm doing a really difficult job and they're making it more difficult because I'm a woman.' But now that I look back, yeah, that was going on all the time."
She continued, "I'm sort of glad I didn't realize it at the time because I probably would've quit. But then I think, 'Well they hired a guy to do the second Wayne's World. And it didn't do that well, and I didn't cry a lot about that."
Prior to Wayne's World, Spheeris had worked on SNL and directed the first two The Decline of Western Civilization documentaries about rock music. She went on to direct another film in her documentary series, as well as other features, including The Little Rascals and Black Sheep.
Myers wanted some iconic scenes to be cut.
Speaking to It Happened in Hollywood, Spheeris highlighted a couple of the scenes Myers that featured in Myers' notes. He wanted a scene in which Wayne's ex (Lara Flynn Boyle) crashes a bike to be deleted. The director said she believes this was because "[Boyle] was getting the laugh, not him." She also claimed Myers also had doubts about the famous "Bohemian Rhapsody" sing-along.
In 2013, Myers, Spheeris, Michaels, and other actors from the film appeared on a panel about the movie, and Myers remembered that wanted two scenes cut that remained in the final version: the one with Boyle and a Robert Patrick cameo that references Terminator 2.
"There are two scenes I resisted… in my Canadian 'you can't change things' way," Myers said, as reported by Deadline.
He also said of the time in his life, "To be honest with you I don't remember that year at all. I remember finishing the film, then I remember my dad dying. Then I just remember Dana [Carvey] and I being strapped to the front of a rocket and me putting on 25 lbs eating my way through it".
Spheeris has clarified that they worked together well on set.
Over the years, Spheeris has spoken out about the disagreement between herself and Myers and said that any rumors that they didn't get along on set are false.
"[H]e wanted me to make a lot of changes and I explained to him, 'Mike, no, it needs to stay the way it is,'" she told Variety in 2022. "And that was really the only point of disagreement we had. We didn't disagree when we were shooting. Oh, you know, every actor has their moments. He got mad one time because he didn't have margarine instead of butter for his bagel. So, you know, we're all uptight, we're all stressed out, it's understandable. But we got along during the shoot."
Spheeris is not the only colleague to claim that working with Myers can be challenging. Recently, a bodyguard claimed that Myers had him fired for making eye contact while on the set of the 2008 movie The Love Guru. And Myers' The Cat in the Hat (2003) co-star Amy Hill called working with the actor, who she called a "diva," a "horrible, nightmarish experience."