Wayne’s World was one of the highest-grossing films of 1992, but when its sequel hit the next year, a key member of the creative team was missing. Director Penelope Spheeris, who helmed the movie for Michaels and Paramount Pictures, was not part of the sequel, and rumors have swirled for years that it was about on-set clashes with Mike Myers and Lorne Michaels. In a new interview, though, Spheeris claims that while it was not a fun or comfortable shoot, the real conflicts did not happen until they were editing the movie, and Myers had a lot of notes — most of which she refused to take — about cuts and edits he wanted made.
According to her accounting of events, Myers had a lot of doubts about the film, born out of the fact that he had not seen the ecstatic responses from test audiences. Myers’ father had passed away, and he was unable to attend the test screenings.
“It was not an uncomfortable set,” Spheeris told THR‘s It Happened in Hollywood podcast. “Mike is hypoglycemic, so if he got low-blood sugar he could get grumpy. So big deal. I worked with Richard Pryor and Albert Brooks. They’ll cause you a heart attack.”
Still, she admitted that Myers was responsible for her not directing the second movie. Not because he was so hard to work with, as some have suggested, but because he wielded his power as star and director to steer Paramount away from her when they clashed on the final cut. It certainly wasn’t a fun experience, but it’s a pretty different narrative from the one that has been pushed for years.
Spheeris claimed that Myers didn’t vibe with the “Bohemian Rhapsody” scene, which became the film’s most iconic moment, arguing that it wasn’t funny. She told THR that everyone involved knew that it wasn’t going to be easy to go up against Myers, and essentially told her that she was doing so on her own — the studio was not going to tell Myers that she refused his changes, she would have to.
“Lorne took me aside and said, ‘Penelope, if you don’t change the movie, you won’t be able to direct Wayne’s World 2. Mike’s not going to approve you,’” she said.
She quotes Paramount executives as saying, “We really want to do Wayne’s World 2 with Mike. We’re not going to tell him you won’t change it — you have to tell him. And Lorne said, ‘I’m not telling him, you tell him.’ So I told him, and I got canned.”
The final version of Wayne’s World is something Spheeris is happy with, having incorporated only a few of Myers’s notes and largely remaining intact from the version that blew people away at test screenings. Still, it stung, and has left a mark. When she was officially replaced, Spheeris said she pulled the phone out of the wall in anger.
“[I] cried for two weeks. And then I got over it,” Spheeris said, although she has not talked to Michaels — with whom she had been collaborating for almost 20 years at the time — again.