Has it really been two decades since the release of "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery"? Yeah, baby! (Sorry not sorry).
Released 20 years ago this week, on May 2, 1997, the modest and often obscure spoof of 1960s British spy movies launched a blockbuster franchise, countless catchphrases (and your friends' terrible impersonations), and perhaps the most beloved character in Mike Myers' gallery of goofballs.
So hop in our time machine and travel back 20 years to learn the defrosted spy's top secrets.
1. Ming Tea, the psychedelic band that appears between scenes of the movie, seems like an afterthought, but it was actually the birthplace of the Austin Powers character. Myers started the band in the mid-'90s, along with alt-rocker Matthew Sweet and Bangles frontwoman Susanna Hoffs. The musicians would perform together in Los Angeles under swinging-'60s-style pseudonyms. Austin Powers was the name Myers came up with as the band's lead singer, Sweet played bass as "Sid Belvedere," and rhythm guitarist Hoffs was "Gillian Shagwell."
2. The band's name came from a fictional beverage company in an obscure Italian thriller (1965's "The 10th Victim") starring original Bond Girl Ursula Andress. Ultimately, Hoffs' husband, Jay Roach, would direct all three "Austin Powers" movies.
3. Other inspirations were the British humor favored by Myers' father, who had emigrated to Canada from England, and the Burt Bacharach song "The Look of Love" (a tune associated with the 1967 Bond spoof "Casino Royale"), which Myers heard one day on a car radio. It made him wonder what had happened to all the 1960s swingers, which prompted him to flirt with then-wife Robin Ruzan in a now-familiar English voice, where he would spout now-familiar archaic catchphrases. Ruzan urged him to write the routine down, and in three weeks, Myers had a screenplay.
4. There are countless references to James Bond films throughout the "Powers" saga, but also references to many now-forgotten Bond knock-offs of the 1960s, from Dean Martin's Matt Helm franchise to James Coburn's "Flint" movies to Michael Caine's Harry Palmer films (the source of Austin's chunky horn-rims).
5. Originally, Myers didn't want to play both hero and villain. He hoped to cast Jim Carrey as Dr. Evil, but while Carrey was interested, he was unavailable because he was making "Liar, Liar."
6. Myers' Dr. Evil is clearly modeled to look like Blofeld from the Bond films, but his voice and gestures -- even the pinky-to-the-mouth movement -- were reportedly mimicry of Myers' old "Saturday Night Live" boss, Lorne Michaels. Myers' "Wayne's World" co-star Dana Carvey reportedly grumbled that Myers' Michaels impression was actually his imitation of Carvey's own Michaels impression.
7. Similarly, Myers spoofed Blofeld's fluffy Persian cat as the hairless Mr. Bigglesworth. The pet was played by a feline named Ted Nude-Gent. (Insert "Cat Scratch Fever" joke here.)
8. Yet another "SNL" comic, Colin Quinn, was offered the role of Scott Evil, but he turned it down. The role of Dr. Evil's resentful son went instead to Seth Green.
9. Another "SNL"-er, Will Ferrell, launched his movie career in "Austin Powers" as the unkillable henchman Mustafa.
10. "Austin Powers" marked the first time that Elizabeth Hurley, then best known as Hugh Grant's model girlfriend, proved she could carry the lead role in a movie. She found acting opposite Myers difficult for two reasons. First, his antics kept her on the verge of cracking up and breaking character, which is why Vanessa so seldom makes eye contact with Austin. Second, as she recalled in 1999, "I'm ludicrously tactile, and Mike isn't at all. But because I was so obsessed with Austin, I used to torment Mike by squeezing, stroking, and petting him at every opportunity." She added, "When I see Mike now, I still launch massive physical attacks on him, which send him fleeing for cover."
11. One of the fembots is played by Cindy Margolis, the pinup who claimed, in the early years of the Web, to be the most downloaded woman on the Internet.
12. Hockey fan Myers named two of the characters, General Borschevsky (Elya Baskin) and Commander Gilmour (Charles Napier), after two of his favorite Toronto Maple Leafs players.
13. Myers claimed that up to 40 percent of the dialogue in the film was Improvised -- most famously, the "Shhh" conversation between Dr. Evil and Scott.
14. Myers thinks latex bald caps don't look authentic enough on the big screen, so he shaved his head to play Dr. Evil. That meant shooting all his Austin scenes first, then going back and shooting all of Dr. Evil's scenes. It was a process that became even more complicated in the sequels, when Myers was playing three or four characters at once.
15. As in "Wayne's World," product placement is the source of many jokes throughout the film. Roach has said he prominently featured AOL in the film so that he could get a year's subscription to the online service. There was also supposed to be a scene where Austin tries desperately to show his '90s trendiness by drinking a Zima. But when Zima's parent company, Coors, realized that the scene was making fun of their beverage, they yanked permission, and Austin found himself nursing a Tab diet cola instead.
16. "Soul Bossa Nova," the movie's chirpy instrumental theme, was a song Quincy Jones wrote and recorded back in 1962. It had also served as the theme song to the Canadian game show "Definition," which Myers had enjoyed as a kid. So its use here was a nostalgic in-joke for his fellow Canucks.
17. The American cut of the film runs a brisk 94 minutes, but international audiences got to enjoy several additional scenes. Among them: an extended fight scene between Austin and Random Task; two scenes featuring Christian Slater as a hypnotized henchman; cryogenics gags involving the defrosting of Gary Coleman, Evel Knievel, and Vanilla Ice; and scenes where the families of various slain henchmen are informed of their tragic and violent deaths. (Among the next of kin: "Moonraker" Bond Girl Lois Chiles and Rob Lowe, who would play the younger version of Robert Wagner's Number Two in the sequels.)
18. The film cost a reported $16.5 million, which seems like an incredible bargain given the film's visual inventiveness. It earned back $53.9 million in North America, making the film a modest hit in theaters, though its popularity really took off on home video. Two years later, "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me" would earn about $1 million more during its opening weekend than "International Man of Mystery" earned throughout its entire theatrical run.
19. The PG-13 movie was close to scoring an "R" rating thanks to the film's funny "nude blocking" scene between Austin and Vanessa. Director Jay Roach, in THR's recent oral history about the film, said: "The nudity blocking was something the MPAA wanted to be sure we didn't go too far with: the cheeky phallic references, like Elizabeth biting the sausage and holding the melons up. But they were all pretty innocent body-shape jokes. The only thing they asked us to do in the final cut, which was kind of surprising to me, was they thought there was too much butt-cheek on Mike when he got thawed out, so I went for a slightly more profile version."
20. In 1999, HBO made a deal for a 13-episode "Austin Powers" cartoon series that never came to be. But there would be a third installment in theaters, 2002's hugely popular "Austin Powers in Goldmember." Altogether, the franchise earned $676 million in theaters worldwide.
21. A lot of that money went into the pocket of an actress who didn't actually appear in any of the films. That was Demi Moore, who served as a producer on all three of them.
22. Will there ever be a fourth "Powers" picture? There have been several reports over the past 15 years that another installment is in development. But in 2016, Roach indicated that there's no movie in the works, though he said, "Mike Myers and I talk about it every time we get together. I would say it's in a latent phase right now, but someday if we find the right idea..., for sure. Mike gave me the break of a lifetime in letting me direct ['Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery'], so I'm always good to go."
As a swingin' fashion photographer by day and a groovy British superagent by night, Austin Powers is the '60s' most shagadelic spy, baby! But can he stop megalomaniac Dr. Evil after the bald villain freezes... Read More