Bohemian Rhapsody has some brilliant high points and one of them is Mike Myers’ cheesy role in the film. The former Saturday Night Live mainstay and the creator of Austin Powers appears as EMI record executive Ray Foster. Clad in a Hawaiian shirt, with scraggly hair and an unkempt beard, Myers plays Queen’s foil – he shoots down the band’s demands that “Bohemian Rhapsody” be the first single from their album A Night at the Opera. But there’s another, cheekier reason Myers is in the film: to tell a meta Wayne’s World joke and reference the impact the Queen song had on his own breakthrough in 1992.
The late 1980s and early 1990s was a golden era of Saturday Night Live and one of the venerable comedy show’s most popular sketches was Myers and Dana Carvey’s “Wayne’s World”, about two heavy metal fans hosting a goofy cable access show in Aurora, Illinois. “Wayne’s World” soon spun off into a 1992 hit feature film directed by Penelope Spheeris, with Myers and Carvey starring as Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar, respectively. And one of the film’s legendary jokes was Wayne, Garth, and their crew popping in a tape of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”, taking turns singing the “Galileo! Figaro!” operatic section, and then banging in their heads in the car in unison when Brian May’s guitar riff kicks in.
Fast forward to 2018, and it’s fitting that Mike Myers received a role in Bryan Singer’s Queen biopic (which has topped Disney’s Nutcracker at the box office). Although Myers’ Ray Foster isn’t a real person, and is an example of how the film fictionalized much of Queen’s history, he’s meant to be a composite of several different record executives the band dealt with in their careers. Myers’ presence can be a bit distracting, though; he’s playing a rather cartoonishly, pig-headed executive, whose great mistake, as depicted in the film, is shooting down “Bohemian Rhapsody” as a single, which forces Queen to drop EMI as their label and walk out on him. But what Myers is really there to do is wink at the audience, especially longtime Queen and Wayne’s World fans, by declaring “No one is going to be head-banging in the car to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody!'” It’s a cheesy but ultimately clever meta-joke.
Of course, the fictional Ray Foster character was dead-wrong about that and about Queen in general. By the time the band steals the show in Bohemian Rhapsody’s thrilling Live Aid climax, Ray fully realizes that he blew it with Queen. In real life, though, Wayne’s World became the eighth highest grossing film of 1992 and the “Bohemian Rhapsody” moment not only took on a life of its own in pop culture, but it instantly re-ignited interest in Queen’s music as well, which was waning in the late 1980s.
With Wayne’s World’s help, “Bohemian Rhapsody” returned to #1 in the UK charts (where it was originally in 1975) and it hit #2 in Billboard’s Hot 100 – becoming a bigger hit in the U.S. than it was 17 years prior, when it topped out at #9. Queen was suddenly back on top, thanks to Myers, who fought for “Bohemian Rhapsody’s” inclusion in Wayne’s World. In fact, Myers had even threatened to walk out on the film when producer Lorne Michaels insisted on using a Guns N’Roses song instead.
As for Queen, the band was delighted by Wayne’s World joking about them and the resurgent interest in their music that resulted. According to Mercury News, before Wayne’s World was even released, Brian May took a copy of the “Bohemian Rhapsody” scene and showed it to Freddie Mercury, who was deathly ill from AIDS. “Freddie loved it,” May said. “He just laughed and thought it was great.” After Mercury’s death, the music video of “Bohemian Rhapsody” interspersed with Wayne’s World clips won an MTV Video Music Award, with Brian May noting that “Freddie would be very pleased” in his acceptance speech. Over two decades later, it all, fittingly, comes full-circle, with Mike Myers ironically playing Queen’s biggest detractor in Bohemian Rhapsody.
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