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The Transformation Of Mike Myers From Childhood To The Pentaverate

Mike Myers is comedy royalty. he got his start on Canadian television before he transitioned to American TV by joining the cast of "Saturday Night Live." There, he shone as one of the best cast members throughout the 1990s, alongside co-stars like Dana Carvey, Adam Sandler, and Chris Farley. He quickly transitioned to the big screen, appearing in blockbuster comedies like "Wayne's World," "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery," and "Shrek." 

Myers' strength is his ability to merge clever, sophisticated humor with lowbrow, childish jokes — a trait he inherited from Monty Python, at one point stating "Everything I've ever done can be distilled to at least one Monty Python sketch." It's the same quality that's made his films, sketch work, and TV shows so accessible to audiences young and old.

In recent years, Myers' output has slowed. He's had brief roles in Oscar-nominated films like "Inglourious Basterds" and "Bohemian Rhapsody," and also has made several documentary appearances (and directed one himself). He's finally returned to his roots in his Netflix series "The Pentaverate," which finds Myers taking on a project that encompasses his entire career in one outlandish, farcical show.

Mike Myers is a proud Canadian

Mike Myers was born in Toronto, Canada on May 25, 1963. He grew up the youngest of three brothers in the Scarborough district of Toronto, a hotspot for Canadian immigrants. His parents immigrated from Liverpool, England, after serving in the British Armed Forces during World War II. His father was a Royal Engineer, while his mother served in the Royal Air Force.

Myers' career in Hollywood started very young — he was acting in commercials at two years old. When he was ten, he appeared in one commercial opposite future "SNL" star Gilda Radner, who played his mother. According to an interview with Fred Armisen for the Hollywood Reporter, Myers fell in love with her and cried after the shoot was over. A year later, Gilda appeared as one of the first cast members on "Saturday Night Live," making Myers a day-one fan of the program. 

After graduating high school, Myers joined the Second City Canadian touring company, notable as a platform for many future comedians, including "SNL" stars like Chris Farley and Tina Fey. From there, he was on his way to his first big break. 

Becoming a household name on SNL

Myers joined the cast of "Saturday Night Live" in January 1989, a new addition to an already established ensemble of comedy hard hitters, including Phil Hartman, Kevin Nealon, and Jan Hooks. During his first week there, Myers was welcomed by a note from writer Conan O'Brien, saying "I'm going to destroy you." Fortunately, that didn't come to pass, despite Myers' fear of failure at the show. 

During his six-year tenure, Myers became one of the show's biggest stars, even as future "SNL" legends like Farley, Sandler, and Tim Meadows joined the cast in the coming seasons. According to Entertainment Weekly, Myers' work on the show was notable for "creating oddball characters with memorable catchphrases." As much of a compliment as that is, it seems slightly reductive of Myers' comedy, although he catchphrases definitely stuck. 

Some of Myers' most famous characters, like Wayne Campbell, captured American audiences with quotes like "Schwing!" and "Party on, Garth!" He also became widely known for Dieter, host of a German talk show called "Sprockets." Rounding out the trio of talk show characters is Linda Richman, the Barbra Streisand-loving host of "Coffee Talk." Myers left the show in 1995, but not before taking one of his best roles on "SNL" to the big screen.

Adapting Wayne's World for the big screen

While still a cast member on "Saturday Night Live," Mike Myers was approached by producer Lorne Michaels with an offer to remake the 1967 film "The Graduate." To Michaels' surprise, Myers turned it down, but the two would eventually collaborate on the second film based on an "SNL" sketch (the first was "The Blues Brothers," starring Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi). 

Michaels convinced Myers and Carvey to reprise their "Wayne's World" characters for a feature film. The story finds the two metalheads-turned-public-access-stars selling their show to a TV studio that wants full creative control. It became a huge hit and a defining comedy of the 1990s — as well as a defining moment for the veteran rock band Queen, whose song "Bohemian Rhapsody" is featured in the film's now-iconic head-banging scene, and became a hit all over again after the film's release.

"Wayne's World" was both a blessing and a curse for Myers. On one hand, it was a vehicle for him and Carvey to transition from "SNL" to movie stardom. On the other, it also marked the beginning of Myers' reputation as a difficult actor. Director Penelope Spheeris claimed he would storm off set, and she was replaced by Stephen Surjik for the "Wayne's World" sequel.

Starring in So I Married an Axe Murderer

Following the success of "Wayne's World," Myers quickly continued his burgeoning movie career. "Wayne's World 2" arrived in late 1993, less than two years after the original — and just a few months after Myers' other big-screen outing of the year, the black comedy "So I Married an Axe Murderer."

In the film, Myers plays Charlie MacKenzie, a San Francisco-based beat poet who struggles with commitment issues, until he falls in love with a woman (played by Nancy Travis) he starts to suspect is a serial killer. As part of Myers' re-writes, the "SNL" star also plays Charlie's father Stuart. Other actors in the film include Myers' "SNL" co-star Phil Hartman, as well as comedian Steven Wright and actor Alan Arkin. 

Despite Myers' success with "Wayne's World," "Axe Murderer" was a box office disappointment. While this would be his first foray into playing multiple roles in a comedy film, it wouldn't be his last — or his most successful.

Austin Powers

After leaving "Saturday Night Live" in 1995, Mike Myers took a hiatus from performing, during which time he revisited an old character from the early 1990s: Austin Powers, the lead singer of Ming Tea, a band he formed with Susanna Hoffs of the Bangles and singer/songwriter Matthew Sweet. As a tribute to his father, who passed in 1991, Mike revived the role for his next comedy franchise (via The Hollywood Reporter). 

The three "Austin Powers" films merge Myers' love for 1960s pop culture with James Bond action films. He starred in the first film of the trilogy, "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery," as the title character and his antagonist, Dr. Evil. In the second film, "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me," Myers also played Dr. Evil's Scottish henchman Fat Bastard, and in the third film, "Austin Powers in Goldmember," he expanded his repertoire further as the titular gold-loving villain. 

These films unfortunately weren't controversy-free for Myers. Dana Carvey felt slighted, arguing that Myers' portrayal of Dr. Evil seemed inspired by Carvey's impression of "SNL" producer Lorne Michaels.

Exchanging cameos with Britney Spears

The third Austin Powers film, "Austin Powers in Goldmember," is certainly the biggest of the three in terms of scale, with an opening sequence featuring cameos from Tom Cruise, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Steven Spielberg. The story finds Powers traveling back in time to the 1970s to thwart Dr. Evil and Goldmember. He's joined by Foxxy Cleopatra, an FBI agent played by pop star Beyonce Knowles — who wasn't the only pop star to appear in the film.

The opening credits sequence also features a cameo appearance by Britney Spears, performing her song "Boys." In the sequence, she and Austin flirt with each other through dance, until Spears is revealed to be a Fembot and explodes.

Myers also stars as Austin Powers in the music video for "Boys," and although many fans may have forgotten it, this wasn't Powers' first such appearance — the International Man of Mystery also appeared in the video for Madonna's 1999 single "Beautiful Stranger." For a young comedian dreaming of being on "SNL" while growing up in Toronto, sharing the screen with Britney Spears and Madonna is quite the ascension. 

Becoming the voice of Shrek

Following the success of the "Austin Powers" films, Myers was undoubtedly one of Hollywood's hottest comedians, but an even more popular role was yet to come: In 2001, Myers starred as the title character in "Shrek" alongside Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz. The film went on to spawn one of the biggest movie franchises of all time. Myers reprised the role in three sequels, as well as several TV specials and a theme park ride at Universal Studios. The original film has even been selected to be preserved in the Library of Congress.

Originally, Myers' "SNL" co-star Chris Farley was cast as Shrek, and had even recorded most of his dialogue for the film before he passed away in 1997. Myers was chosen as Farley's replacement, though upon seeing the existing footage, he said he wanted to re-record everything with a Scottish accent. It was an expensive choice, but it paid off with one of the most readily identifiable cartoon voices of the modern era (via GQ). 

A contract dispute and a box-office bomb

Following the success of "Wayne's World," Myers returned to his stable of "SNL" characters for another film project — this one centering on "Sprockets" host Dieter. Myers developed the film's script in 1998, along with "SNL" writer Jack Handey and "Austin Powers" co-writer Michael McCullers. He planned to star in the "Sprockets" movie alongside Will Ferrell, Jack Black, and David Hasselhoff, but backed out just before filming was scheduled to begin, saying he was unhappy with the script

Myers' decision resulted in a legal dispute with Universal, which was settled when he agreed to star in another Universal project: a live-action adaptation of the Dr. Seuss book "The Cat in the Hat" that arrived in 2003.  

Unfortunately for both sides, the film was an embarrassing flop. Furthermore, some of Myers' co-stars, like Amy Hill, have publicly stated how much they didn't enjoy working with Myers on the misbegotten project.

The Love Guru

After "The Cat in the Hat" flopped, Myers returned to the big screen to write and star in "The Love Guru." Myers played Guru Pitka, a lifestyle guru hired by the Toronto Maple Leafs to guide their struggling star player through his rocky marriage. The film boasts an all-star cast, including Jessica Alba, Justin Timberlake, and Ben Kingsley in supporting roles. 

"The Love Guru" turned out to be another box office bomb for Myers, even netting him his first Golden Raspberry Awards for Worst Picture and Worst Actor. As if that wasn't bad enough, the film also attracted negative attention from Hindu leaders who were cautious about its portrayal of the religion. Some Hindu leaders, like Anuttama Dasa of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), felt that Hindus should view the film as satire, while others felt it openly mocked the religion. The whole ordeal marked the beginning of a hiatus for Myers.

An era of supporting roles

Myers' film career took a back seat during the late 2000s and 2010s. He kept his focus on his personal life, marrying Kelly Tisdale in 2010 and having three children. He wasn't entirely offscreen, however — he was seen briefly in Quentin Tarantino's 2008 film "Inglourious Basterds" as a general in the British army, and he appeared in another supporting role in the Margot Robbie-led 2018 film "Terminal." Without giving too much away, suffice it to say that the latter project made use of Myers' affinity for prosthetics and playing multiple roles.

Myers also made an appearance in 2018's "Bohemian Rhapsody," a biopic starring Rami Malek as late Queen singer Freddie Mercury. In a meta moment, he plays a radio executive who refuses to play the title song, saying nobody will bang their heads to it in their car — an obvious reference to that famous scene in "Wayne's World." Myers also reunited with Dana Carvey to introduce the film at 2019's Academy Awards ceremony

Turning to documentaries

In 2013, Mike Myers took a surprising career detour to pursue a passion project. He made his directorial debut with "Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon," a documentary chronicling the life and career of the titular talent manager who was famous for representing clients like Pink Floyd, Kenny Loggins, Blondie, and Alice Cooper, the latter of which was notably featured in the first "Wayne's World" movie. 

The film, filled with fascinating stories about Gordon's life in Hollywood, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival before being released in theaters in 2014. Although it's a departure from the comedies he's known for, it feels like a Myers creation, with certain stories from Gordon interrupted by VH1-style pop-ups correcting his version of events. At one point, Gordon tells a story about meeting Pablo Picasso, and the pop-up clarifies that the artist died long beforehand (via Exclaim). It's overall a bright look at one of Hollywood's most influential talent managers, through the lens of an earnest and gifted comedian. 

Mike Myers, secret game show host

In 2017, ABC revived "The Gong Show," a classic game show featuring amateur performers judged by a panel of celebrity guests. It gets its title from its main gimmick, which allows judges to bang a gong and stop any performance if they deem it awful enough. 

This new revival was executive produced by actor Will Arnett and hosted by a much less well-known celebrity, British comedian Tommy Maitland. Although it was never confirmed by ABC or Arnett during the show's first season, Maitland was played by Myers in prosthetic makeup. Part of the stunt involved Myers appearing on late night talk shows, such as Jimmy Kimmel Live, in character. 

ABC finally confirmed Myers' involvement after the show was picked up for a second season. It was unfortunately not renewed for a third go-round, but while it was on, it was nice to see Myers return to the public eye, even under the guise of a British insult comic spewing one-liners. 

The future of his franchises

Like virtually any veteran performer, Mike Myers has endured his share of ups and downs, but he can also feel good about the staying power enjoyed by his most well-known characters. For example, Myers and Carvey reprised their roles as Wayne and Garth in a series of Uber Eats commercials for the 2021 Super Bowl — and that isn't the only franchise that Myers fans have been clamoring to see more of. 

Since the release of "Austin Powers in Goldmember," a fourth film has fallen in and out of various stages of development. Myers has hinted that the next sequel would focus more on Dr. Evil, but plans fell through after the passing of his "Austin Powers" co-star Verne Troyer in 2018. More recently, Myers has seemingly suggested that more "Austin Powers" might be in the works, and he's reprised the role of Dr. Evil on "SNL" and "The Tonight Show" to comment on current events. 

Myers' future in the "Shrek" franchise has also been a source of speculation. Myers has insisted that he would love to return to the role, though plans for a fifth film have been on and off since the release of "Shrek Forever After" in 2010. However, the franchise still continues on with Antonio Banderas' Puss in Boots, with "Puss in Boots: The Last Wish" arriving in December 2022. 

The Pentaverate finds Mike Myers in familiar territory

After many years away from the spotlight, Mike Myers returned in 2022 with the Netflix series "The Pentaverate." In a way, this series is the culmination of Myers' entire career in one project. It's a loose spinoff of "So I Married an Axe Murderer," centering on a secret society that was referenced in a scene from the film. Myers' roles include a Canadian TV journalist, the British leader of the Pentaverate, and even Shep Gordon.

One of the show's best scenes has gone viral on social media, depicting Myers' character Ken Scarborough being rescued from a Sasquatch by none other than Shrek. Though this Shrek is a costumed performer, he's voiced by Myers and accompanied by Smash Mouth's cover of "I'm A Believer" from the first "Shrek" movie.

The six-episode series premiered to lukewarm reviews that criticized its lowbrow humor, but fans of Myers' previous work will find that "The Pentaverate" is a kind of homecoming for the comedian. If nothing else, it led to a press tour that offered Myers an opportunity to look back on his old work