Do you know this hilarious Canadian comedian? If so, which of his many characters said this: “What say, you, we go out on the town and swing, baby? Yea!” Very few movie buffs, Myers fans, or humour addicts don’t recognize the swinging Austin Powers. Three movies so far, and more on the way. So let’s get into this Scarborough, Ontario kid and find out what makes him tick…
Born Michael John Myers on May 25, 1963 in Toronto, Canada (Scarborough to be precise), “Mike” is a comedian, actor, screenwriter, famous voice (hey Shrek fans), and film producer. Mike’s dad was Eric Myers (deceased 1991), an insurance salesperson, and World War II Royal Engineers vet. His mom, born Alice E. Hinds, was an office supervisor and also a vet of the Royal Air Force. Both of Myers’ parents were originally from Liverpool, England. Mike’s older brother Paul is an indie singer and songwriter, broadcaster, and author. His other older brother is Peter. His ancestry includes English, Irish, and Scottish. And here’s something out of the norm about Mike: he holds triple citizenship (Canadian, American, and British).
This great Canadian talent, who turns 50 in 2013, had a very visible early comedic run as a long-time member of NBC’s Saturday Night Live, playing several characters he created. Speaking of characters, do you remember Wayne’s World (not the movies, but the TV sketches)? That’s part of Myers’ unassuming, but impish, beginnings. In the third Austin Powers movie, Goldmember, Myers played no fewer than four of the film’s major characters: Powers, Dr. Evil, Fat Bastard, and the whacky character of Goldmember himself. He also co-wrote the screenplay.
Shades of things to come … Myers acted in a commercial when he was just 10 years old. His mother was played by Gilda Radner! Radner, who would later appear on Saturday Night Live, probably didn’t know then — nor did Myers — that they would end up side-by-side on NBCs iconic and long-running TV series. On graduating from high school in 1982, Myers was immediately accepted into the Second City Canadian Touring Company. In 1985 he moved to the UK and became a founding member of The Comedy Store Players. The year after that, he starred in Wide Awake Club, a Brittish children’s TV show. Returning to Toronto in 1986, he picked up with Second City as a regular cast member in Toronto’s main stage show. In 1988, he moved to Chicago, and performed at the Improv Olympic. Still in the mid-1980’s, he began to appear on Toronto’s CityTV in his character of Wayne Campbell, and he appeared on the City Limits show as well. This is around when “Wayne” of Wayne’s World really began to take hold. The character was featured a lot in the 1986 series It’s Only Rock & Roll. Between the 1980s and today, Myers has played the funny man almost without exception (in 2011, he returned to The Comedy Store in London, England for ‘one night only’, and knocked them dead). That said, Myers has played more than one straight role.
One of Myers’ straight cinematic roles occurred in 1988 when he played the part of Steve Rubell, the co-founder of New York’s famous Studio 54, in the film called 54. Original pre-screening reaction to the film was disappointing to the studio, and almost the entire cast was called back two months before the film’s release, to re-shoot roughly 25 minutes of the film. Interestingly, Myers’ portrayal of Rubell was one of the only positive comments about the film, which ended up doing quite badly at the box office. The other straight role of note played by Mike was as the character of General Ed Fenech, in Quentin Tarantino’s 2009 critcally acclaimed and controversial Inglourious Basterds.
Married twice, Mike’s first wife was actress and comedy writer Robin Ruzan. He met her at a hockey game in Chicago. They were married in 1993, and divorced in 2005. Café owner Kelly Tisdale and Myers started dating in 2006. They got married in the fall of 2010, in New York. Their son, Spike, was born in September 2011.
In 2002, Myers hit The Hollywood Walk of Fame. A year later, in 2003, he was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame. In addition to these two prestigious awards, he has four American Comedy Awards (all for the Austin Powers character), an early Emmy Award (1989) for his writing for Saturday Night Live, seven MTV Movie Awards, and the Lucille Ball Legacy of Laughter Award. Entertainment hasn’t always treated him well, however, as he was nominated for Worst Actor and part of Worst Screen Couple in the 2004 Razzie Awards (for his work in The Cat in the Hat). The Razzie’s caught up to him again in 2008, where he ‘won’ the Worst Actor and co-writer for The Love Guru. (That film also secured another four nominations at the 2008 Razzie’s.) Ending the awards information on a positive note, Mike Myers was voted among the top 50 comedy acts of all time, in The Comedian’s Comedian awards in 2005.
Some of you may best know Myers for his work in the Shrek film series. There have been six Shrek films, with the first, Shrek, opening in 2001, and the last, Shrek Forever After, that opened in 2010. As of 2012, Myers’ filmography includes 20 years of mostly hit movies, or at least movies critically acclaimed.
Something even die-hard fans may not know about Myers is that he supports or has supported a dozen charities, and thirteen separate causes. Among the charities he has supported are Artists Against Racism, Make Poverty History, and Paralyzed Veterans of America. Some of the causes he supports include AIDS, Children, Health, Hunger, and Poverty. Many of Hollywood’s brightest stars lend their talents, and given their energies and money to great causes, and Myers is no stranger to this.
So where’s our talented, funny Scarborough kid off to next? In 2012, there’s the Hollywood short, Oscar Etiquette, co-starring Kevin Kline. And yes, coming to a theatre near you at an as-yet unannounced date, there will be Austin Powers 4. As Powers’ himself might say, “yeah, baby, yeah.”
Image courtesy of DreamWorks