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20 facts you might not know about ‘Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery’

Why did it take so long for a successful spoof of James Bond? Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery rose above parody status to become a true piece of pop culture iconography. It also gave Mike Myers a second successful comedy character in the world of film. These 20 facts about Austin Powers are groovy, shagadelic, and, of course, make us horny, baby.

Mike Myers created the character for a weird side project

Mike Myers created the character for a weird side project

New Line Cinema

Myers first invented the character of Austin Powers for, of all things, a band. He formed a faux ‘60s mod band called Ming Tea with, among others, musicians Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs.

The Hoffs connection may have gotten the director involved

The Hoffs connection may have gotten the director involved

New Line Cinema

This was basically the debut of Jay Roach as a film director. He had directed the film Zoo Radio in 1990, but that was practically a student film, and he was credited as “M. Jay Roach.” Myers was friends with Hoffs, and she certainly was familiar with Roach. The two have been married since 1993.

Myers made it for his father

Myers made it for his father

New Line Cinema

Myers was born in Canada, but his parents were British. As such, his dad had raised him on a steady stream of not only Bond films, but British comedy. When his father died in 1991, Myers started thinking about his influence, and he called Austin Powers a “tribute” to his father.

Myers wasn’t originally going to pull double duty

Myers wasn’t originally going to pull double duty

New Line Cinema

The Austin Powers films in part became about Myers playing multiple roles. That began in the first movie, where he plays both Austin and Dr. Evil, who is a riff on Blofeld from the James Bond movies. Originally, Myers wanted Jim Carrey to play Dr. Evil, but Carrey was busy with Liar Liar. Thus, Myers took the role on himself.

A couple other people had scheduling conflicts

A couple other people had scheduling conflicts

New Line Cinema

Two more people that could have been in Austin Powers? Rhea Perlman and Colin Quinn. Perlman was up for Frau Farbissina and Quinn was up for Scott Evil. Unfortunately for both of them, they had scheduling conflicts. Both have said they regret missing out.

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Myers brought back a couple of classic actors

Myers brought back a couple of classic actors

New Line Cinema

Myers was doing a bit of the Quentin Tarantino thing with Austin Powers, as he cast actors he liked as a kid. Namely, he brought in Robert Wagner and Michael York. This movie is credited with revitalized the careers of both actors.

Rob Lowe was almost in the series sooner

Rob Lowe was almost in the series sooner

New Line Cinema

Lowe eventually plays the younger version of Number 2 in the Austin Powers sequels. He also appeared earlier, though. Lower played a character known as “John’s Friend,” but his scene was cut.

It was the film debut of an eventual comedy legend

It was the film debut of an eventual comedy legend

New Line Cinema

Will Ferrell joined the cast of Saturday Night Live in 1995, but he hadn’t been in a movie yet. His turn as Mustafa, one of Dr. Evil’s henchmen, was his film debut.

Dana Carvey was annoyed by the movie

Dana Carvey was annoyed by the movie

New Line Cinema

Carvey costarred with Myers in the Wayne’s World movies, but the two didn’t always see eye to eye. Myers’ portrayal of Dr. Evil is supposedly an impression of Lorne Michaels. Specifically, it’s based on Carvey’s Michaels impression. That’s what Carvey believed, at least, and he was reportedly quite annoyed by it.

There was a lot of improv

There was a lot of improv

New Line Cinema

Adam McKay is thought of as bringing a laidback, improvisation-heavy vibe to film comedies. Before that, though, apparently there was a lot of improvising during filming Austin Powers as well. By his own estimation, 30-to-40 percent of the film was improvised.

Pam Anderson maybe could have been in it

Pam Anderson maybe could have been in it

New Line Cinema

If the Hulu series Pam & Tommy is to be believed, Anderson was in the running for both the films L.A. Confidential and Austin Powers at the same time. She didn’t end up in either film. Kim Basinger got the role in L.A. Confidential (and won an Oscar), while Elizabeth Hurley played Vanessa Kensington in Austin Powers.

Myers’ old comedy partner has a role

Myers’ old comedy partner has a role

New Line Cinema

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Back in the 1980s, when Myers was living in the United Kingdom, he was in a comedy team called “Mullarkey and Myers” with Neil Mullarkey. Myers would rise to stardom in the United States, but Mullarkey has had a solid career as well. He also plays the Quartermaster Clerk in Austin Powers.

A bit of product placement was done by the director for personal gain

A bit of product placement was done by the director for personal gain

New Line Cinema
Here’s a very 1997 thing. Austin used America Online in the movie. Roach used the AOL product placement in exchange for a free year of service from the internet company.

The cat’s real name is as entertaining as his movie name

The cat’s real name is as entertaining as his movie name

New Line Cinema

Mr. Bigglesworth is a funny name for a cat. However, the hairless sphinx cat that played Mr. Bigglesworth has a name that might be even better.

One of the assassins is a Beatles reference

One of the assassins is a Beatles reference

New Line Cinema

In the first scene of the film, Dr. Evil dispatches with several assassins. Based on his console, you can see their names are Generalissimo, Jurgen, Don Luigi, and Rita. Rita is dressed like a meter maid. This is a reference to the Beatles song “Lovely Rita,” which is about a meter maid.

Austin’s glasses are an homage to another film

Austin’s glasses are an homage to another film

New Line Cinema

The glasses that Austin Powers wears are based on the glasses that Michael Caine’s character played in The Ipcress File. In Goldmember, Caine plays Austin’s father. He wore the glasses from the Ipcress File for his part in the sequel.

It helped change the Bond franchise

It helped change the Bond franchise

New Line Cinema

Daniel Craig’s version of James Bond was quite serious and dour. He credits that, in part, to the Austin Powers film parodying the excesses of the Bond franchise. Craig didn’t mince words about it. He said the Bond franchise had to “destroy the myth” because “Mike Myers f–ked us.”

See also  Pamela Anderson Austin Powers

The movie was a surprise hit

The movie was a surprise hit

New Line Cinema

Would a parody of James Bond work? Evidently, yes. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery made $67.7 million worldwide on a $16.5 million budget. That made for quite the success for an original character in a movie made in 1997. It also has a 73 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

There are two sequels

There are two sequels

New Line Cinema

The first Austin Powers walked so that its sequel, The Spy Who Shagged Me, could run. That film made a whopping $312 million worldwide, a huge boost from the original. Naturally, there was a third movie, with Austin Powers in Goldmember getting a $63 million budget and making $296.6 million.

There might be a fourth film

There might be a fourth film

New Line Cinema

Goldmember came out in 2002, and ever since, there has been talk of a fourth film. It hasn’t happened yet, but there’s still discussion happening. In 2020, Jay Roach told Deadline he’d still be down to direct another Austin Powers movie, and in 2022, Myers said he would “love to do” a fourth movie in the franchise.

Chris Morgan is a sports and pop culture writer and the author of the books The Comic Galaxy of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and The Ash Heap of History. You can follow him on Twitter @ChrisXMorgan.

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