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|Also Known As:||Michael Myers, Tommy Maitland, Michael John Myers||Died:|
|Born:||May 25, 1963||Cause of Death:|
|Birth Place:||Toronto, Ontario, CA||Profession:||actor, screenwriter, producer|
Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY
With his keen observational eye and ear, Canadian actor and writer Mike Myers created some of the most memorable comedic characters in TV and film history. From the time of his American breakout on "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ) in the early 1990s, Myers' success lay in his fully-realized, heavily detailed characterizations and his spot-on mimicry. In an era of cynical insider comedy like "Seinfeld" (NBC, 1989-1998), Myers also set himself apart with affable, silliness that was refreshingly free from hip irony or mean-spirited intent. The outrageously funny sight gags in the "Austin Powers" series of films never came across as an eye-rolling mockery of the 1960s British films that inspired them, the same way that the "Wayne's World" series celebrated the suburban basement experience instead of snickering at it. Though the heartfelt animated hit "Shrek" (2001) and its sequels made Myers a star among a younger generation, high-profile flops "The Cat in the Hat" (2003) and "The Love Guru" (2008) were critical and commercial disappointments. However, Myers regrouped as an actor, drawing impressive notices for his supporting role in Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" (2009), directing an...
With his keen observational eye and ear, Canadian actor and writer Mike Myers created some of the most memorable comedic characters in TV and film history. From the time of his American breakout on "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ) in the early 1990s, Myers' success lay in his fully-realized, heavily detailed characterizations and his spot-on mimicry. In an era of cynical insider comedy like "Seinfeld" (NBC, 1989-1998), Myers also set himself apart with affable, silliness that was refreshingly free from hip irony or mean-spirited intent. The outrageously funny sight gags in the "Austin Powers" series of films never came across as an eye-rolling mockery of the 1960s British films that inspired them, the same way that the "Wayne's World" series celebrated the suburban basement experience instead of snickering at it. Though the heartfelt animated hit "Shrek" (2001) and its sequels made Myers a star among a younger generation, high-profile flops "The Cat in the Hat" (2003) and "The Love Guru" (2008) were critical and commercial disappointments. However, Myers regrouped as an actor, drawing impressive notices for his supporting role in Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" (2009), directing an engaging documentary about rock music manager "Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon" (2013) and writing an affectionate best-seller about his homeland, Canada (2017). In a typically quirky move, Myers moved back to television as the host of a rebooted "The Gong Show" (ABC 2017- ), although he did the entire series in character as aging British television personality Tommy Maitland, never acknowledging the joke. If nothing else, Myers' body of work introduced dozens of lasting catchphrases into the pop culture stream. "Way!"
Michael Myers was born on May 25, 1963, in Toronto, Ontario. His parents were both émigrés from Liverpool, England, where his mother Alice had been an aspiring actress who trained at the London Academy of Music and Art. His father Eric was a salesman who was also influential in his youngest son's career path with his love of classic British comedians like Peter Sellers and Monty Python and an insistence that Myers only have funny friends over to the house to play. Myers was a natural performer, appearing on Canadian TV shows and in commercials as a kid, eerily brushing elbows with his future at "SNL" with a commercial featuring Gilda Radner as his mother. Myers was completely focused on a career in comedy, and was accepted into the Second City touring company immediately after high school. After several years in the trenches of Second City's sketch and improv comedy, Myers moved to England.
In his parents' home country, Myers formed a comedic partnership with Neil Mullarkey. The pair wrote and performed sketch shows whose popularity spread from London pubs to UK-wide touring to several appearances at the renowned Edinburgh Festival. Myers also imported some of his Second City improv techniques and founded the Comedy Store Players, in addition to landing a regular role as a sidekick on a morning kid's TV program. Despite his success, Myers missed home and returned to Toronto and the safe fold of the Second City Theater in 1986, where he began to unveil a new cast of characters, many of whom were based on his cultural experiences abroad. Two years later, he transferred down to Chicago and joined their Second City Theater, expanding his range by studying long-form improv with renowned comedy teacher Del Close at the Improv Olympic. Within a year, Myers caught the eye of comic Martin Short, who was so impressed that he phoned "SNL" producer Lorne Michaels.
By the fall of 1989, Myers was a featured player on "Saturday Night Live" and when he proved instantly popular, was upgraded to repertory player. Over the next six years, he introduced some of the show's most memorable characters, including West German avant-garde talk show host Dieter, middle-aged Jewish Long Island Barbara Streisand fan Linda Richman (inspired by his real-life mother-in-law), and of course Wayne Campbell, the suburban metal teen who broadcast his own public-access cable TV show from his basement. Myers had been performing Wayne since an early 1980s appearance on a Toronto comedy show, but the character proved to be universal in appeal and was adapted into the most successful "Saturday Night Live" spin-off feature to date, "Wayne's World" (1992). The wildly successful film and 1990s pop culture landmark co-starred Myers and his awkward sidekick Garth (Dana Carvey) in a delightfully silly journey involving the co-opting of their low-budget show by big media, though its most memorable scenes - like the "Bohemian Rhapsody" scene in Wayne's AMC Pacer - had nothing to do with the plot.
The following year, wonder boy Myers suffered his first setback when he was cast in the dual role of a young, commitment-weary p t and his outrageously contrary Scottish Mad Hatter of a father in the romantic comedy-thriller "So I Married an Axe Murderer" (1993) which was a box office flop but did gain a cult following on home video. In a double blow, "Wayne's World 2" (1993), in which Wayne and Garth stage an all-star rock show, proved to be a disappointment. Apparently, Myers had been working on a sequel story for several years and only weeks before shooting began, Paramount scrapped the script over legal issues pertaining to the fact that it was a tribute to another film. Myers had to crank out a new script under the gun, and the lack of gold nuggets of its predecessor was the unfortunate result. He remained a popular cast member at "SNL" until his 1995 departure, when he took a two-year self-imposed hiatus to concentrate on his next feature.
Myers was back at the top of his game with the 1997 summer hit "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery," an homage to both classic 1960s James Bond films and the madcap British comedies of the same era. Myers played both the title role of the cryogenically frozen 1960s photographer-turned-spy, as well the villainous Dr. Evil, a megalomaniac intent on blowing up the world. Key to the film's success - as well as the success of "Wayne's World" - was Myers' refreshingly harmless, silly sensibility that steered clear of the cynicism and irony that saturated the era's offerings. Of course the outrageously detailed characterizations and hilarious site gags helped jettison the film into blockbuster status and spawn another round of Myers-created catch phrases, including "shagadelic" and "yeahhhhh baby!" On the heels of his huge success, Myers was off to Ireland to film the relatively low-profile feature "Pete's Meteor" (1997), J O'Byrne's story of a Dublin family who enters into the spotlight after a meteor crashes into their backyard.
In another unexpected move, Myers took on the real-life character Steve Rubell, owner of seminal 1970s Manhattan night spot, Studio 54, in an acclaimed dramatic turn in the disco parable "54" (1998). Singled out by the majority of reviewers as the one redeeming feature of this largely panned film, Myers gave an inspired supporting performance, proving his proficiency was not limited to comedy. But of course audiences were anxiously awaiting more adventures from their beloved Austin Powers, and they got it with "Austin Powers II: The Spy Who Shagged Me" (1999), a time travel romp in which Powers' newly acquired 1990s sensibilities make a glorious return back to 1969. The film also had Myers taking on a new role in addition to Austin Powers and his nemesis Dr. Evil, with the actor wearing extensive padding to play the aptly named henchman, Fat Bastard. Myers next project - a feature adaptation of his popular "Saturday Night Live" character Dieter - never saw the light of day. Myers reportedly refused to move forward on the production because he did not think the material was funny enough and was eager to avoid another scenario like "Wayne's World 2." The dispute heightened to an acrimonious and public legal battle with Universal and Imagine.
Myers returned the screen in a new form in 2001, voicing the title ogre in DreamWorks SKG's animated hit "Shrek" (2001). Myer's Scottish characterization of the misunderstood ogre who finds true love with an unattractive princess made for an immensely popular film, hailed as the year's best movie by many critics. The birth of a successful new film series for Myers was followed by a return to another, with Myers reprising his most popular role in "Austin Powers in Goldmember" (2002). Audiences lapped up the latest offering, which featured a movie-within-a-movie and an afro-ed Beyonce Knowles, however critics sensed Myers was close to exhausting his velvet-clad character's possibilities. He followed up with a turn as a sharp-tongued flight attendant opposite Gwyneth Paltrow in the disappointing comedy "A View From the Top" (2003), his amusing, self-conscious performance almost redeeming the film - but not quite.
Again proving that Myers' strongest live performances were in characters and films of his own creative vision, he starred in the wildly unsuccessful live version of Dr. Seuss's "The Cat in the Hat" (2003). More concerned with production design than storytelling, the disappointing adaptation also was not best served by Myers' odd choice of a "New Yawk" accent, and the film received a great deal of flak from critics - even the widow Seuss herself - for inappropriate humor and a failed attempt to make the film enjoyable for both parents and their kids - the key to every successful family film.
But Myers continued to be a family favorite with a reprisal of his title role in the sequel "Shrek 2" (2004). The sequel proved just as popular with audiences as well as critics, and it brought in an astounding $440 million dollars in domestic ticket sales. Despite over $300 million dollars in box office revenue for the "Shrek the Third" (2007), a new writing and directing team delivered a considerably darker, less kid-friendly picture and critics made note with their first largely dismissive reviews since the successful franchise began. That same year, Myers found himself the target of criticism from the Hindu community following a few advance screenings of his next offering, "The Love Guru" (2008). Returning to the helm as writer and star, Myers new creation was a self-help guru called upon to solve couple's romantic problems. However, despite Myers' proven record of kind-hearted films, there was some concern that "The Love Guru" insensitively lampooned Hinduism. Putting the box office failure of the film behind him, Myers next appeared on screen in a supporting role as a British general in Quentin Tarantino's World War II fantasy "Inglourious Basterds" (2009) before drawing one of his most popular characters to a close with "Shrek Forever After" (2010). Myers, a passionate music fan, made his directorial debut with an affectionate documentary about a little-known music biz insider, artist manager Shep Gordon, "Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon" (2013). Myers published a combination memoir and ode to his homeland, Canada, in 2017. Later that same year, he hosted a reboot of '70s TV staple "The Gong Show" (ABC 2017- ), although he performed his hosting duties in character as aging British television personality Tommy Maitland, even insisting on being credited as a producer under that name.
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CAST: (feature film)
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"I still believe that at any time the no-talent police will come and arrest me." --Mike Myers to Danny Fields in DETAILS, March 1992
About those, um, teeth? [in "Austin Powers"]: "The British are dentally challenged. In Britain in the 60s, you could be a sex symbol and still have bad teeth. Even today, you see English rock stars who are jillionaires and still have bad teeth." --Myers in USA TODAY, May 1, 1997
"He can write, and he thinks everything through in detail. In 'Wayne's World' and 'Wayne's World 2', he cared about every aspect of production, whether it was writing, performance, editing or music. There's a real intensity always to do the best he can." --producer Lorne Michaels, quoted in BIOGRAPHY, June 1999
"Austin Powers was born out of trying to celebrate my father's life. You can only write stuff that is in your heart; I don't think there's a formula, and I know that it's foolish to look for one. My father's favorites were mine: Peter Sellers, Monty Python, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, all of that stuff. My dad was a guy who loved to be silly; he had a highly prized sense of humor. When I would bring friends home to play table hockey in the basement, if my dad didn't think they were funny, he wouldn't let them in the house. 'They can't come around,' he'd say. 'They're not bloody funny!" --Myers quoted in BIOGRAPHY, June 1999
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