Entertainment Weekly: What was the original germ of the idea for this spiritual-guru character?
Mike Meyers: In 1991, my father died. He was a really funny Liverpool dude, and I was very close to him. He’d had Alzheimer’s, and it was a horrible time. I became very interested in the question of ”What is happiness?” Everything I’ve studied comes down to this notion that you have to accept who you are and love yourself — and that’s what this movie is about. Now, that’s not a terribly funny genesis for a movie. But as Lenny Bruce said, the equation of comedy is pain plus time.
Steve Daly, Jeff Jensen, Chris Nashawaty, Missy Schwartz, Jessica Shaw, Benjamin Svetkey, Adam B. Vary, Josh Wolk
Speaking of time, you haven’t appeared on screen in five years. Did it just take that long for this idea to develop?
Myers: One could never have predicted the tremendous success of the Shrek films and the amount of time it took promoting them, so my usual rhythm was thrown off that way. But having said that, I’ve done well. I don’t need to constantly have movies out there. I play hockey every Tuesday and soccer every Sunday. I like to paint and draw and travel and read. And every so often, when something touches my heart, I emerge.
The past few years have seen the resurgence of the raunchy R-rated comedy. You’ve always stayed on the PG-13 side of things. Is that a taste issue?
Myers: I enjoy the challenge of being suggestive. It’s almost like Sudoku. Suggestiveness has a long tradition in English humor: A girl with very large breasts is at a train station, and she asks the train master, ”Do you know the best way to Oldham?” And the train master says, ”Oh, I know the best way to ‘old ’em.” The elaborateness of the construct is part of the fun, and when I can crack it, it tickles me on all levels. I’m a very silly person, but I take my silliness seriously.