How Mike Myers created metalhead Wayne Campbell

Mike Myers didn't have to stray far from his roots for inspiration when it came to a character he's been playing for more than 30 years.

Actor drew on his teen years in Scarborough for character that predated Saturday Night Live

How Mike Myers came up with Wayne Campbell

33 years ago
Duration 5:01
Comedian Mike Myers explains the inspiration for his famous Wayne Campbell character.

Mike Myers didn't have to stray far from his roots for inspiration when it came to a character he's been playing for more than 30 years. 

"I grew up in the suburbs of Toronto," Myers told Ralph Benmergui, host of CBC's Midday, on Feb. 20, 1990. "It was just basically the group of people I hung out with."   

Myers was talking about Wayne Campbell, the heavy metal enthusiast and host of a segment called Wayne's World on the sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live.

"We used to take the Red Rocket into town," he went on, speaking remotely from New York City. "Sort of a[n] adolescent, suburbia, heavy metal thing."

Origins of Wayne

Mike Myers portrays metalhead Wayne Campbell in a 1987 CBC co-production It's Only Rock N' Roll. (It's Only Rock 'n' Roll/Insight/CBC Archives)

"They were sort of funny people to hang out with," Myers went on, telling Benmergui he had "immediately" grasped their potential to inspire a character for him.

Wayne Campbell existed well before Saturday Night Live, however. He was seen on CBC in August 1987 in the CBC/Insight co-production It's Only Rock 'n' Roll, purportedly as a prize in a "win your own segment" contest. 

In Wayne's Power Minute, Myers emerged from a van in Campbell's black T-shirt, long hair and baseball cap.

"Let's talk about bad English in heavy metal, OK?" he said, pulling out LPs by Led Zeppelin, Ratt and Motley Crüe. "Look, there's an umlaut over the U. That's German. That's not even English."

Actor and CBC host Paul Soles appeared alongside Mike Myers in the 1978 TV drama The Making of a President. (The Making of a President/CBC Archives)

Myers was used to appearing on screen by then. According to the CBC-TV catalog, he'd been in CBC productions including the sitcom King of Kensington in 1975 and was cast in two TV dramas in 1978. 

'Hanging out and being a goof'

Mike Myers is awarded with a street sign bearing his name on June 25, 2003. Myers was honoured by the City of Toronto with the key to the city, and it was announced that a street will now be known as Mike Myers Way. Scarborough amalgamated with Toronto in 1997. (Aaron Harris/Canadian Press)

Myers told Benmergui that even though Wayne Campbell was inspired by his Canadian peers, Americans could find the character relatable.

"I think there's a certain homogenous, adolescent, heavy-metal experience," he said. "It's just ... hanging out and being a goof." 

Earlier this month, Myers reprised Wayne Campbell along with sidekick Garth, played by SNL cast-mate Dana Carvey, for a 2021 Super Bowl TV commercial.

Mike Myers (left) portrayed The Calgary Kid in the 1978 CBC drama The Adventure Of The Dinosaur Badlands. (Norman Chamberlin/CBC Still Photo Collection)