How Wayne's World put Bohemian Rhapsody back on the charts
'It did revitalize their career and their work,' says Wayne's World director Penelope Spheeris
Mike Myers is helping to revive Bohemian Rhapsody once again — but this time, he won't be singing it.
The Canadian comedian stars as a record executive in the Queen biopic named after the song. The film, which stars Rami Malek as flamboyant frontman Freddie Mercury, hit theatres on Friday Nov. 2.
But despite the buzz around Bohemian Rhapsody, at the end of the day Myers will probably still be better known for his performance of the mini-rock opera in his 1992 debut film Wayne's World.
"I don't know if there's another song I could think of that could replace Bohemian Rhapsody," Penelope Spheeris, who directed Wayne's World, told Day 6.
"It was a brilliant choice on Mike's part from the very beginning and I think we, as a shooting team, executed it pretty well."
When the film opened in 1992, Bohemian Rhapsody — originally released by Queen 17 years earlier — returned to the top of the U.S. charts, peaking at number two.
Myers has said that including the song in Wayne's World was important because it mirrored his own adolescence in Toronto.
"I wanted Wayne's World the movie to be as cinematic and in the world as possible," Myers told Rolling Stone in an interview. "I thought Bohemian Rhapsody would be a great way to introduce everybody."
'It was worth the headache'
Filmed over one night in Covina, Calif., the musical number is one of the first scenes in Wayne's World.
Wayne jumps into his best friend Garth Algar's AMC Pacer and, with two friends already in the backseat, he pops a cassette into the stereo and Bohemian Rhapsody begins.
The scene immediately resonated with Sean Sullivan, the Canadian actor who played Wayne's perpetually drunk friend Phil in the film.
"I remember driving around in my very beat up — I think it was a Chevy Nova or something … and singing along to Bohemian Rhapsody," recalled Sullivan.
"Then I read the scene and I go, 'They're driving around singing to Bohemian Rhapsody. It's like they've been reading my mail.'"
Sullivan calls the scene one of the best "rock and roll scenes" in teen film history.
The scene took hours to film and Sullivan estimates that at least one hour was spent headbanging to the song's instrumental bridge. Sullivan says it was a major pain in the neck.
"When we saw the scene it was like, 'Well, it was worth the headache,'" Sullivan said.
Myers saves the Queen
Bohemian Rhapsody almost didn't make it into the film, according to Myers.
The producer, Lorne Michaels, wanted Guns N' Roses to open the film. Queen had fallen out of favour by the '90s.
"I said, "I hear you. I think that's really smart," but I didn't have any jokes for a Guns N Roses song. I had lots of jokes for Bohemian Rhapsody. It's just inherently comedic,'" Myers told Rolling Stone about why he wanted the song in the movie.
"I was totally unaware there was any question as to whether or not Bohemian Rhapsody would be in the film," Spheeris said.
Mercury died three months before the film's premiere, but he knew his song — which Sullivan believes to be the singer's best — would be featured.
"Freddie, who was very ill at at the time, was thrilled and heartened by the number being in the movie," he said.
Spheeris says that the band was thankful to the film team for giving Bohemian Rhapsody a second life, and guitarist Brian May even sent a message to the director.
Four and a half decades on, she adds, Bohemian Rhapsody is a pop culture staple.
"It will be around forever. I hope it will be because, you know, younger generations need music like this now."
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