Austin enjoys the Shagwell hands-on approach.
Austin Powers - You Only Shag Twice
The first Powers movie was a breath of fresh air and became a big video favourite. Now the sequel has arrived in cinemas and Austin’s bigger than ever, baby. We meet The Spy Who Shagged Me’s groovy stars Mike Myers (plus Heather Graham, in the issue)
TEXT MARIANNE GRAY
Selected from the August 1999
Film Review

Austin Powers is not the most attractive of spy heroes to grace the big screen. In dire need of dental work, a fashion sense that makes the eye-balls ache and an arrogance that beggars belief, it’s sometimes hard to understand the character’s cult status after the 1997 release of Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. It then comes as something of a surprise that alter-ego Mike Myers is attractive in the flesh. He’s slimmer than Austin, possibly even sexy when the light is behind him. Myers talks slowly and intelligently, seems almost disappointingly normal and claims that he wanted to be an architect before he got de-railed and hit the comedy track.

Myers is currently stationed at the new man-of-mystery epic Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. Another silly but fun dose of the original, loaded with irony and lashings of bad taste, you will see the audience’s hair stand up on the backs of necks in the dark auditorium as Myers hurls his brand of humour at them from the screen.

This time Austin Powers is heading back to his era – the Swinging Sixties – to accomplish the following: keep Dr Evil from destroying the Nineties, shag as many free-love chicks as is possible, continue the quest to obliterate uptight squares, retrieve the world’s most hyperactive mojo (his sex drive) and have a laugh doing it all.

It’s a packed movie. Film Review met Myers in Cannes at the film festival.

The first question I ask is what, in his dictionary, does the word ‘shag’ mean. “Oh,” he says, leaning back in his chair with a huge grin, “it’s from the ancient Sanscrit, ‘shaghri’, which means ‘he who enjoys himself with abandon with a camel’. They later outlawed them.” It’s going to be one of those interviews.

“The real story is that it all dates back to my early years, growing up in an English house in Canada. My parents were from Liverpool. My cousins from Liverpool were always coming over and would say the word ‘shag’ and other English slang. In America the shag is a dance and is now a euphemism for intimate relations. Everybody likes to shag or wants to shag, don’t they?”

Myers is fun but he can be deadly serious. He never planned a sequel to Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery but somehow it just fell into place. He seems affable enough about it all and treats the Austin Powers movies jokily – they are comedies after all – but the subject of movies is shown some respect. “I never plan anything,” he says amiably. “I never planned to be employed and look what’s happened. So I can’t say if there’s ever going to be a sequel to this one, so you better enjoy it!

“Austin Powers is part James Bond, part Inspector Clouseau. Pink Panther cum Secret Agent,” he adds. “He likes to shag and he had to have a new mission obviously. In his first incarnation he entered the Nineties with all his Sixties accoutrements in tow. I decided to put the vehicle in reverse. I wanted to do things backwards. But, of course, it’s not actually the Sixties. It’s virtually the Sixties.

“You can take a boy out of the Sixties but you can’t take the Sixties out of the boy. Having spent so much time in the Nineties it turns out he might have lost a bit of his confidence with the ladies. And that’s dangerously close to being square. He’d somehow lost touch with what it really means to be Austin Powers – the physical representation of that being that he’d lost his mojo, the mysterious source of his sexual prowess, his romantic soul. We tried to keep one foot in the Nineties, one foot in the Sixties..."

Images copyright: New Line / Entertainment
Read the full Austin Powers interviews (and our review of the new film)
in this issue of Film Review
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