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A Stroke of Genius?

IN WHICH Mike Myers PERFECTIONIST LEARNS TO STOP WORRYING AND EMBRACE GOLDMEMBER. INSIDE THE NEW SEQUEL TO Austin Powers.

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You must be very fine to stand in line at that superhot roller disco, Studio 69. Pimp hats should be cocked to one side, platform heels strapped on, and some type of protection is encouraged.

Hearing protection. For the next scene of hot girl-girl action. In the form of gunplay. You can get earplugs from the same woman who’s wandering around the set with a pair of ridiculously huge falsies. Teeth, that is. Of the grotesque Austin Powers variety. Seems there’s a question as to whether the International Man of Mystery is straight in the ’70s. Dentally speaking.

The late-night shoot will just about wrap Austin Powers in Goldmember, which finds the anachronistic ’60s swinger boogying back to disco’s golden age to combat a new nemesis, Goldmember. Star Mike Myers has a simple task this evening: Retreat from the nightclub owned by the lascivious sun-worshiping Dutchman under faux fire from three hench-hotties. Hop in his time-traveling purple pimpmobile with scrumptious secret agent Foxxy Cleopatra, played by Destiny’s Child’s Beyonce Knowles. Drive off.

Sound easy? Maybe not — Goldmember must rise to the occasion. After all, its 1999 predecessor, The Spy Who Shagged Me, grossed a rousing $205 meeeellion. In fact, the film made as much money its opening weekend as the 1997 original did in its entire theatrical run. For No. 3, Myers and director Jay Roach are on a mission to outdo themselves again. ”We felt Austin Powers 1 was a TV experience, The Spy Who Shagged Me was the film version of the TV experience, and that we wanted to make the Godfather II of broad comedy sequels in Goldmember,” Myers says. To get there, the new movie features a multiplatinum Grammy-winning diva and a guy who’s scored with Oscar twice (Michael Caine, as Austin’s spy dad, Nigel), a complete set of returning cast members, homages to movies as diverse as Roller Boogie and Chaplin’s Modern Times, and cameos from the likes of Tom Cruise, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Britney Spears. Sizewise, Goldmember will be an eyebrow-raising third leg.

Big doings for a film with such humble origins. In 1997, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery introduced Myers’ brainchild, a bawdy British secret agent cryogenically frozen in the ’60s — and thawed out in our not-so-swinging era. The movie grossed just $54 million, a sum that doesn’t usually send the suits screaming for a sequel. But when it became a video phenomenon (it was one of Billboard’s top sellers in 1998), the corridors of Powers flung open: Myers shot back onto the A list, director Jay Roach became a must-have helmer, and suddenly everyone was uttering bons mots like ”oh, behave,” ”shagadelic,” and ”There really is nothing like a shorn scrotum. It’s breathtaking.” The sequel’s $310 million worldwide take made it, at the time, the biggest grosser in the history of New Line Cinema (owned, as is EW, by AOL Time Warner).

Three years later, the studio could use another good box office romp. Following New Line’s significant 2001 downsizing, The Lord of the Rings and Austin Powers remain its primary cash cows. ”I prefer to call them structural steel,” says production president Toby Emmerich. ”Because I’m counting on them.” Myers believes Goldmember will deliver: ”We pledged that it would be better than the second one, in the way that the second one, in our opinion, was better than the first.”