Toronto native Mike Myers is bursting with Canadian pride these days, thanks in part to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and the movie star has been spreading his love for his homeland around Washington, D.C., over the past week.
Myers was in the U.S. capital to attend last Thursday's state dinner at the White House held in Trudeau's honour. He was one of several Hollywood celebrities with Canadian roots who were on the guest list. Others included Michael J. Fox, Sandra Oh and Ryan Reynolds.
On his way in to the glamorous, black-tie event, Myers told reporters he was feeling so proud to be Canadian and "thrilled" that Trudeau is leading the country. He repeated that sentiment about Trudeau again Wednesday night at an event at the Canadian Embassy in Washington.
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Myers was there to lend his support to the Invictus Games, a sporting event started by Prince Harry for injured active duty military members and veterans. More than 500 competitors from 15 countries will participate in various sports at the 2016 games in Orlando, Fla., in May.
The event at the embassy marked the 50-day countdown to Orlando, and Prince Harry announced via a video message that Toronto will host the 2017 games.
"As I saw Prince Harry I'm reminded that I am British by heritage, American by God's grace and Canadian by divine intervention," Myers said in his speech. "I actually have three passports, which would make me an international man of mystery," he joked, making reference to the character he played in his hit movie Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.
Military deserve respect
After warming up the crowd with those laughs, Myers gave a touching speech that paid tribute to those who serve and make sacrifices for their countries. Both of his parents served in the British military during the Second World War. His mother Alice was a member of the Royal Air Force and his father Eric was a member of the Corps of Royal Engineers.
They later moved to Canada, and Myers grew up in Scarborough, a Toronto suburb.
Myers said his parents often talked about their hatred of fascism when he was growing up. "They spoke of the nobility of fighting for democracy," he said. Myers paused, choked up: "That generation, man."
His father joined the Royal Engineers at age 14, and he was raised by his brothers in arms, Myers said, adding the values his father learned were passed down to him and ever-present in the Myers household.
"The No. 1 lesson was those that serve our country deserve our utmost respect," he said.
Myers said he knows his late father would have wanted him to support a cause like the Invictus Games. His father died of Alzheimer's disease, and his mother is currently suffering from it.
"In honour of Sapper Eric Myers of the Royal Engineers," Myers said, his voice faltering, "you have my deepest respect, admiration and gratitude. I thank you," he told the competitors and other military members in the room.
Hug from Trudeau a highlight
"As an artist, I get to do my art, I get to speak what I say, because of all of the sacrifices that you've made — even when I make very silly things, I like to point out," Myers said. "Silly is very important, too."
In a brief interview, Myers said he's happy and proud that his hometown will host the next Invictus Games.
"It's fantastic. It's more good news happening for Canada," he said. "I feel very, very proud and very happy with what's happened in Canada. I think we are poised for very fantastic things."
Explaining his remark that he is "thrilled" about Trudeau getting elected last fall, he said Trudeau "represents for me, Canada may not have put a man on the moon but we're awfully nice to the man on Earth."
The ethos of community, and the ideals of equality, co-operation and inclusion are "my politics," Myers said, and when it comes to politics in Canada, "I'm happy with where we're at right now."
Myers said he was honoured and proud to attend the state dinner, and when asked about highlights from the night he responded: "Hanging out with Ryan Reynolds. Also, getting a hug from Prime Minister Trudeau was pretty fantastic as well."
Myers's newly white hair generated some buzz and headlines, that night. People on social media were calling him a "silver fox" and wondering whether it was dyed for a role or his natural colour. When asked about it Wednesday night, Myers's publicist ended the interview.