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The Untold Truth Of Wayne's World

It's hard to believe, but it's been 25 years since Wayne's World hit theaters. An extension of the wildly popular Saturday Night Live sketch, the movie made a star out of Mike Myers, who co-wrote and starred as Wayne Campbell, a metalhead who hosts a cable access TV show out of the basement of his parents' house in Aurora, Illinois. With him, as always: Garth (Dana Carvey), his shy, jelly donut-slurping best friend. It was one of the biggest hits of the year, and spawned a sequel, but even after all these years, there are still plenty of things you probably don't know about Wayne's World. Party time! Excellent!

Myers started doing Wayne in the '80s

Mike Myers started acting professionally in Canadian TV productions while he was still a teenager, and was a seasoned comedy veteran before he joined the cast of Saturday Night Live in 1989. He'd even done a lot of sketch comedy—he had worked with the Kids in the Hall and made comedy bits for the shows City Limits and It's Only Rock & Roll. In fact, he'd done a version of Wayne Campbell on both of those shows called "Wayne's Power Minute." The character was pretty much the same, except he hung out in a sweet van instead of his parents' basement. (Garth had also yet to arrive.)

Garth is based on Dana Carvey's brother

Like a lot of SNL performers, Myers brought his old characters with him when he joined the cast, including Wayne. But the writers and producers tweaked Wayne's show to be about a duo, pairing Myers up with SNL's biggest star of the era, Dana Carvey. Carvey, tasked with coming up with a character to play off Wayne, created Garth, based on his brother. Like Brad Carvey, Garth is quiet, has long blond hair, and is obsessed with technology. While Brad Carvey never made an electo-shock belt like Garth does in Wayne's World, he is one of the inventors of Video Toaster, an early and hugely popular video editing software suite. (Carvey also says he and Garth "both eat red licorice, and we both play the drums.")

At least one famous scene was improvised

Wayne's World shot over just 32 days in the late summer of 1991—it had to wrap quickly, because because Myers and Carvey had to be back in New York in time for the new season of Saturday Night Live. The last scene filmed was the one in which Wayne and Garth are laying on the hood of a car, waiting for an airplane to fly over, with Garth asking Wayne if he thought Bugs Bunny was attractive when he'd dress up like a girl bunny—after which Myers breaks into hysterical laughter. The laughs were authentic: Carvey improvised the line, and Myers couldn't help but crack up. Director Penelope Spheeris attributes all of the silliness to exhaustion from filming an entire movie in a little over a month.

There was supposed to be a different Alice Cooper song in the movie

In the movie, Wayne and Garth get to go see Alice Cooper live in concert in Milwaukee—and then go backstage to meet him, where they learn many fun facts about the history of the city. In the finished film, Cooper performs a then-new song, "Feed My Frankenstein," but in the script, Myers had written that Cooper performed his classic '70s hit, "School's Out." Just before shooting was set to begin, Cooper's manager, Shep Gordon, called Myers and said, "How about something from the new album."

Myers declined. Gordon replied, "I also happen to know you start shooting in two weeks and you don't have a replacement. You really don't have a choice." So Cooper stayed in the movie, and did his new song. (Myers and Gordon actually became very close friends—Myers stayed at Gordon's house on Maui for two weeks recuperating after the death of his father. In 2013, Myers directed a movie about Gordon called Supermench: The Legend of Shep Gordon.)

Bohemian Rhapsody was almost replaced with a Guns N' Roses song

Maybe the most famous—and most joyful—moment in Wayne's World comes when Wayne, Garth, and friends cruise around in the Mirthmobile, rocking out to Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody." The movie's popularity reignited interest in the song, and it hit the top 10 in the U.S. and went to No. 1 in the U.K., nearly 20 years after its initial release. But the studio didn't want to use that song—at all. Executives wanted to use a song by Guns N' Roses, who at the time were one of the most popular bands in the world; Queen, as Myers told Marc Maron on WTF in 2013, had been largely forgotten by all but "hardcore fans." Myers wrote the scene to include "Bohemian Rhapsody," and says he "fought really, really hard for it." He even threatened to walk off the movie if he didn't get his way. The studio had no choice at that point.

Myers and the director did not get along

While it was a dream come true for Myers to take a character he'd created on an obscure Canadian TV show to the big screen, he was insecure: in fact, at one point, Myers reportedly got really upset that there wasn't any butter on the snack table for his bagel (only margarine) and walked off the set. On the day of filming the "Bohemian Rhapsody" scene, he complained to Spheeris about how all the head-banging hurt his neck, and how he no longer thought the scene would be funny. There was no love lost between star and director, and Myers had the clout to block Spheeris from directing 1993's Wayne's World 2—which, perhaps not coincidentally, earned less than half of the first Wayne's World, and did not delight as many. Fortunately, they've since reconciled, and Spheeris has publicly praised Myers, saying, "When I saw Austin Powers, I went, 'I forgive you, Mike.' You can be moody, you can be a jerk, you can be things that others of us can't be—because you are profoundly talented."

Myers was going through some horrible personal stuff at the time

Myers at least had a good reason for being so temperamental on set in so many different ways: his father was dying while the movie was shooting. At a 2013 event honoring the 21st anniversary of Wayne's World, Myers said, "To be honest with you, I don't remember that year at all. I remember finishing the film, then I remember my dad dying."

No Stairway! Denied!

In one memorable scene in Wayne's World, Wayne goes into a guitar store and on the expensive axe he's dubbed "Excalibur," he starts to play the very recognizable first few notes of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven." The clerk then forcibly stops him and silently points to a sign reading "NO STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN." "No Stairway!" Wayne complains to the camera. "Denied!"

It's a pretty funny musician joke—all aspiring guitarists, at least early on, try to learn how to play "Stairway," arguably the most famous hard rock song of all time. At least, that's how it went down in the theatrical version. Anybody who's ever seen the movie on video or TV, or anywhere else apart from the movie's initial 1992 release, hears a generic, tuneless guitar riff that's clearly been overdubbed. This is because Led Zeppelin only allowed the rights to "Stairway to Heaven" for the initial theatrical release, and not home video or TV. Their legal blockage essentially ruined the joke for all future viewings.

Stan Mikita's Donuts is a joke for Canadians only

In case you didn't notice the constant references to hockey or his heavy Canadian accent, Mike Myers is Canadian. And in Canada, the largest fast food chain is the doughnut store Tim Horton's, founded by the pro hockey star of the same name. There aren't many Tim Horton's in the U.S., so it was a subtle Canadian joke in Wayne's World that Wayne and Garth hang out at a donut shop called Stan Mikita's Donuts. The movie takes place in the Chicago area, and Mikita was a star for the Chicago Blackhawks from 1958 to 1980. In this regard, Mikita is the American "equivalent" of Tim Horton.

All the slang had to be translated…for British audiences

Wayne's World is heavy on jargon, catchphrases, and idioms. Some Americans had a hard enough time decoding all the rapid-fire slang in the movie—what exactly is a "psycho hose beast" anyway? When it came time to export the film for European audiences, Paramount Pictures left the task of translating to a marketing firm called United International Pictures, where a team attempted to demystify the lingo for British and French audiences. In the U.K. more than 200,000 Wayne's World pamphlets were distributed, filled with definitions of Wayneisms like "schwing" and "monkeys might fly out of my butt." In France, UIP hired Les Nuls, a comedy team who translated phrases like "She's a babe!" and "Party on!" into a French street patois called verlan. The efforts worked: Wayne's World was a hit in Europe.