The Austin Powers franchise is like no other. It can’t even be compared to any other spoof movies and most cinematic parodies out there. Mike Myers’ curious creation combines a parody of the tropes and motifs of the James Bond franchise with a satire of the swinging culture of the ‘60s. It’s also a fish-out-of-water story that’s filled with delightfully absurdist gags and unforgettably goofy characters.
Naturally, with a series of comedy movies this unique in tone and premise and comic vision, there are plenty of interesting nuggets of trivia behind their creation and production. So without further delay, here are 10 shagadelic behind-the-scenes stories from the Austin Powers movies.
10 Mike Myers wanted Jim Carrey to play Dr. Evil
Surprisingly, given the fact that he’d eventually play four characters in the franchise and was inspired primarily by Peter Sellers, Mike Myers originally didn’t want to play multiple roles in the Austin Powers movies. Instead, he sought out Jim Carrey to play Dr. Evil.
Carrey was interested in the part, but the scheduling of filming conflicted with Liar Liar, so he had to decline. Of course, Myers would go on to play Dr. Evil himself and did the voice as an impression of Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels (an impression that Dana Carvey feels that Myers stole from him).
9 The Rocket Gag Was Shorter
The scene with the rocket in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (“It looks like a giant...”) has become one of the most iconic moments in the whole movie. It was initially a lot shorter, but it performed so well with test audiences after shooting had wrapped that the filmmakers decided to go back and add to it.
It’s a great gag that no matter how many times the same simple punchline is used, it never gets old. Even celebrities with double-entendre names like Woody Harrelson and Willie Nelson appeared in the scene.
8 Some Familiar Faces From Seinfeld Appeared In The First Movie
The supporting cast of Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery features a number of actors who will be familiar to fans of Seinfeld. The blackjack dealer in the casino scene is played by Larry Thomas, better known as “the Soup Nazi.” The U.N. Secretary is played by Brian George, who also played Jerry’s Pakistani friend Babu Batt.
And the Virtucon tour guide is played by Patrick Bristow, who will be recognized as the wig master who came to stay with George and Susan. Plus, Robert Wagner guest-starred in “The Yada Yada” as a dentist who heard Jerry was “an anti-dentite.”
7 Mike Myers Made Austin Powers Instead Of Wayne’s World 3
Since the two Wayne’s World movies are beloved cult classics, many fans want to see a third movie. However, any chance of a Wayne’s World 3 has gone out the window. If it got made today, it would be another Dumb and Dumber To or Zoolander No. 2.
There was a time that it could’ve been made and been a lot of fun, but Mike Myers knew he had to choose one idea to focus on – Wayne’s World 3 or Austin Powers. In the end, he made the right decision because as Barney Stinson said: New is always better.
6 The dialogue was 30-40% improvised
Since Mike Myers has a background in performing improvised comedy, it's unsurprising that the Austin Powers movies feature a lot of improvised dialogue. According to Myers, 30-40% of the lines were improvised. For example, the scene where Dr. Evil repeatedly shushes Scott was improvised by Myers and Seth Green.
Also, the scene in which Frau Farbissina jokes about the Lucky Charms commercials was improvised by Mindy Sterling. When Austin jokes about London looking like Southern California, where The Spy Who Shagged Me was shot, it’s clear that it was a spur-of-the-moment improvisation when Felicity (Heather Graham) replies, “What?”
5 The Title Of The Spy Who Shagged Me Caused Marketing Problems
The Spy Who Shagged Me ran into all kinds of marketing problems. For starters, the word “shag” was either censored with asterisks or removed entirely in favor of the simpler title Austin Powers 2 on the poster. Secondly, marketing the film internationally was a problem, because most languages don’t have a word for “shag.”
The producers originally considered calling the movie Austinpussy – which would eventually be used as the title of the film-within-a-film starring Tom Cruise as Austin in Goldmember – so just imagine the problems that the marketing team would’ve run into with that on the marquee.
4 Sean Connery Was Considered For Nigel Powers
Goldmember introduced us to the International Man of Mystery’s father, Nigel Powers. The producers considered casting Sean Connery in the role. This would’ve been interesting, since Austin is a parody of James Bond and Connery was the first Bond actor ever.
It was for this reason that Steven Spielberg cast Connery to play the father of Indiana Jones, his American answer to James Bond. It’s fair to say that the eventual choice for the role of Nigel Powers, Michael Caine, was even better. Movies like The Italian Job proved that Caine has the comedic chops that Connery might not have.
3 Mike Myers Plays One More Character In Each Austin Powers Movie
One of the trademarks of the Austin Powers movie is that Mike Myers adds another character to his repertoire in each installment. In the first one, International Man of Mystery, he only plays two characters: Austin and Dr. Evil. In the second one, The Spy Who Shagged Me, he added Fat Bastard to the cast.
And in the third one, Goldmember, he played the titular villain. If Myers ever makes the fourth movie that he’s been promising fans for over a decade now, then he’ll need to reprise all four and add a fifth character to maintain the series’ momentum.
2 Goldmember Had A Ton Of Alternative Titles
Since MGM was initially threatening legal action over the title Goldmember, which they felt was too close to Goldfinger to constitute “fair use” (the magical phrase used by makers of parodies), the Austin Powers producers came up with alternative titles, such as: License to Shag, Live and Let Shag, Never Say Member Again, and You Only Shag Thrice.
In the end, MGM let New Line use Goldmember on the condition that trailers for their then-upcoming releases, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and the Pierce Brosnan-starring Bond movie Die Another Day, would be included in the theatrical release.
1 The Spy Who Shagged Me Saved Heather Graham From A Career In Porn
Before Heather Graham was asked to audition for Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me by Mike Myers himself, it had been close to two years since she’d had a major role in a movie. This led Graham and her agent to seriously consider accepting an offer for a softcore lesbian porno.
She nailed the audition and the Austin Powers franchise saved her from a career in porn. Reportedly, the first thing that Graham did after receiving her paycheck for The Spy Who Shagged Me was go out and buy a copy of the porno she would’ve starred in.