Behind The Scenes Of The 'Wayne’s World' Version Of 'Bohemian Rhapsody'
Just as Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" is one of rock music's most over-the-top songs, Mike Myers's Wayne's World is one of film's most outrageous comedies. In many ways, it makes sense that "Bohemian Rhapsody" and Wayne's World fit together so perfectly.
Given the renewed interest in the operatic London rockers following the 2018 biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, it's worth taking a look back at one of the most memorable movie scenes to feature a Queen song. No, we're not talking about the Suicide Squad trailer - we're referring to the hilarious "headbanging scene" in Wayne's World.
The pairing of Mike Myers and Queen may seem unusual, but it all comes back to Myers's unabashed love of the glam rock band. It's easy to assume Wayne's World producers could have stuck any song in the scene, but, in reality, Myers refused to make Wayne's World without "Bohemian Rhapsody." As it turns out, Myers made a smart call. The world - not to mention movie history - is better for it.
The Scene Was Inspired By Mike Myers's Joyrides As An Adolescent
Mike Myers made his theatrical film debut as both a writer and actor with Wayne's World. In writing the script, Myers focused on the things he knew and had experienced in life. The "Bohemian Rhapsody" scene was taken directly from Myers's childhood.
According to Myers, when he, his brother, and their friends would drive around Toronto singing along to the song, they assigned each other specific singing parts. If someone got their part wrong, they received the wrath of the others. "I was 'Galileo!' three of five," he told Rolling Stone. "Wayne's World was my childhood."
Many Of The Actors Said They Could Relate To The Scene
Myers said he chose "Bohemian Rhapsody" because he grew up rocking out to the song - and he was sure other people his age had done the same. As it turns out, he was entirely correct. Sean Sullivan, who played Phil, said he was amazed when he read the Wayne's World script because he, too, had driven around singing "Bohemian Rhapsody" with his brother when he was an adolescent. Lee Tergesen, who played Terry, had a similar reaction when he read the scene. He asked Myers to be written into the scene because it reminded him of rocking out in the back of the car as a kid.
Two days later, Myers rewrote the script, so Tergesen was in the backseat of Garth's Mirthmobile.
The Studio Wanted A Guns N' Roses Song InsteadPhoto: אליבאבא / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
From the beginning, Myers knew the headbanging scene wouldn't work without "Bohemian Rhapsody." However, the film's producers took a bit of convincing. Producer Lorne Michaels had overseen the initial Wayne's World comedy sketches on Saturday Night Live. Michaels kept insisting they use a popular Guns N' Roses song instead of "Bohemian Rhapsody." While Queen's popularity had waned by the early 1990s, GNR was one of the most popular bands on the planet. Michaels believed GNR would be more recognizable for audiences and thought the film could capitalize on the band's recent success.
The director, Penelope Spheeris, doesn't recall particular tension over the song, though she believes she agreed with Michaels at the time. Nonetheless, Myers refused to back down.
Myers Wanted The Song Because He Knew How To Joke About ItPhoto: Raz Cue / Wikimedia Commons / Fair Use
There were several reasons Myers couldn't imagine opening Wayne's World with any other song, not least of which was that he admittedly didn't have any jokes for other songs. Of course, GNR has been parodied plenty of times since the '90s. However, Myers had more history with the Queen hit, so he had a stronger vision for how the scene should feel. And, according to Myers, "Bohemian Rhapsody" is "inherently comedic" in a way other songs aren't.
For what it's worth, Queen agreed with Myers. Guitarist Brian May claimed the song was always a little "tongue in cheek" anyway.
Myers Threatened To Quit The Movie If 'Bohemian Rhapsody' Wasn't Used
Myers believed so strongly in "Bohemian Rhapsody," he actually threatened to quit Wayne's World if it wasn't used. Myers claims he understood the argument for using a more popular band like GNR, but he absolutely wouldn't work on the film without Queen's song.
Throughout the pre-production process, Myers continued to fight for the song. He believed it was a masterpiece that would perfectly compliment Wayne, Garth, and the crew cruising around town. Eventually, he gave producers an ultimatum, telling them he would back out of the film if they didn't let him use "Bohemian Rhapsody."
The producers caved, and Myers made Wayne's World the way he envisioned it.
The Scene Was Shot In West Covina Because It Looked The Most Like Aurora, Illinois
Wayne's World is set in the Chicago suburb of Aurora, Illinois. According to director Penelope Spheeris, however, about 95% of the movie was shot in Los Angeles, California. Audiences wouldn't know it watching the film: To the untrained eye, the film genuinely appears to have been filmed in the heart of the Midwest.
To capture a more Midwestern suburban look, Wayne's World's entire headbanging scene was filmed in West Covina, California - a smaller city located in Los Angeles County.