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An oral history of Austin Powers, the movie that shagged us

Screenshot: Austin Powers

It’s been 20 years since Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery was released in theaters, which means it’s been about 15 years since somebody unironically asked, “Do I make you horny?” In that time, the bawdy, madcap franchise has gone from being a surprise smash hit to a sometimes embarrassing reminder of the nation’s questionable comedic tastes. But whether or not you think the humor of Austin Powers holds up, there’s no denying the film had a massive cultural impact, giving us everything from incessant Dr. Evil impressions to this Heineken ad:

In a new piece from The Hollywood Reporter, Austin Powers creator and star Mike Myers, directer Jay Roach, and the rest of the principal cast reflect on their experience of making what is essentially the “Macarena” of films two decades after its release. The initial concept—which Myers describes as a tribute to his recently deceased British-born father who introduced him to “James Bond, Peter Sellers, The Beatles, The Goodies, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore”—was fleshed out in about two weeks and leaned into the innuendo-laden tone and low-budget feel of the ’60s spy movies that inspired it. It helped that the film didn’t have a massive budget to begin with, so the stunts and effects were going to have a cheap-looking feel anyways.


Despite the fact that everyone involved was excited by the script and seemed to have a lot of fun on set, the movie’s initial release was a bit lackluster. It scored poorly with test audiences, and the premiere at Mann’s Chinese Theater was a rather low-key affair. “I wore a suit, but nobody took my picture,” notes Seth Green.

But thanks to something new and exciting called DVDs, the fan base for Austin Powers grew and grew until every frame of the movie was burned into our collective retinas and the studio demanded a sequel. Myers recalls the moment he realized the film was a success when “driving on Halloween in Los Angeles … and [he] saw like 15 Austin Powers go by.” That success has petered out in the 15 years since Goldmember’s release, but that doesn’t mean a fourth Austin Powers is off the table. “I would love to do another,” Myers said. “But you just have to see.”

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