Wayne’s World – ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Almost Replaced by Guns n Roses Song

Wayne’s World Turns 25

Wayne’s World director, Penelope Spheeris, recently talked to Yahoo about her experience making the movie.  Fresh off her documentary, Decline of Western Civilization Part II, a film about the 80s Sunset Strip hard rock / metal scene, Spheeris went from broke to rich overnight.  In the interview the director talks about dealing with Mike Myers, Guns n Roses and says the band Cinderella were not amused by the movie.  Here are a few excerpts:

Were you surprised by its success?
It flipped my life around. I was a single mom. Probably two months before I did Wayne’s World, I borrowed $5,000 from my sister just to stay alive and keep my daughter and me going — keep the lights on. And then after Wayne’s World, I was an overnight millionaire.

You’ve worked with some amazing comedians, including Richard Pryor (in the never-released Uncle Tom’s Fairy Tales), who have reputations for being difficult but worth it. Did Mike Myers and Dana Carvey fall into that category?
Well, I think it’s kind of common knowledge that Mike was a little more difficult than Dana. But I always think it’s worth it. Richard was sort of out of his mind and [a] genius. You put up with whatever they’re going to come up with, the good and the bad, because of the reward. I mean, they’re almost struck by lightning or something in that they have this amazing gift. I was angry with Mike when I didn’t get to do Wayne’s World 2, but as I watched his career progress, [with] Austin Powers, I forgave him big time because — they’re so good, you know?

What was it like being a female director of what is basically a bromance comedy?
Going through my early days in my career, if I thought about being discriminated against as a woman, I probably would have stopped doing the job. But I never let it occur to me, honestly. I think Lorne always felt guilty that he never let me do any of the short films on Saturday Night Live. Really, women didn’t have a big voice back then. Between that and the fact that I had just done Decline of Western Civilization, Part II, I think that’s why I got the job. That and pure luck.

Is it true that “Bohemian Rhapsody” almost wasn’t used for the head-banging scene in the car, and instead it was going to be Guns N’ Roses?
I had just done Decline II, and Guns N’ Roses were supposed to be in it, and at the last minute their manager decided that he didn’t want them in the movie, so I went and I got Megadeth. “Bohemian Rhapsody” was written into the script when I got it, and then the studio said, “Oh, we got this hot band now. We want to put Guns N’ Roses in there.” And Mike kicked up about it and said, “No, we don’t want Guns N’ Roses, we want ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’” so you can imagine where I was at with that one. I was like, “I don’t want Guns N’ Roses. They didn’t want me.” That’s what that battle was all about.

But the fact of the matter is, when we shot the scene in the car, I had been hanging out with these people, and I know what it’s like in a car when everybody gets in the same beat with a song. I exaggerated it with the head-banging scene, and we shot all night long. These poor guys, their necks were so sore. Mike was almost quitting and said, ‘I need Advil. I have a headache.’ It was a difficult night, and I was actually accused of the scene not being funny while I was shooting it. And I’m like, “Please do it. Please.” I was begging. And, obviously, it worked. It actually revitalized Queen, not just that song, but their career.

Not everybody was a fan of the movie, though.
Cinderella, the band, did not respond well to the movie when I screened it for them on the Paramount lot. I did end up using one of their songs, “Hot and Bothered,” in the film. But when I showed it to them, they said, “We don’t get it. It’s not funny.” They were not nice afterwards, and I felt so disheartened. When we started having these test screenings is when it really came to light that it was something standout and special. Either you get it or you don’t.

Read the entire interview