SAN FRANCISCO — "Oh Amy, yer warin' glasses, it's the bookish look . . . wait a minute, Amy, take yer glasses ooofff. Why Amy, yer beeeoooootiful." With a ludicrous leer and a Scottish burr thick enough to rattle the china, Mike Myers has reduced a normally composed assistant director to helpless giggles before the cameras have even begun to roll on the set of "I Married an Axe Murderer."
Myers has taken on a three-way challenge with this, his first movie since last spring's "Wayne's World" and his role as the loving but none-too-bright Wayne Campbell. In "I Married an Axe Murderer," Myers plays two roles: Charlie Mackenzie, a hip San Franciscan who aspires to be a beat poet and, compared to Wayne, is a fairly normal guy, and Stuart, his Scottish-born father. In addition to his dual acting duties, Myers wrote the final version of the script with his buddy, Neil Mullarkey. The film also stars Nancy Travis, Brenda Fricker and Anthony LaPaglia and includes cameos by Alan Arkin and Charles Grodin.
There's a lot at stake, both for Myers and for TriStar Pictures, which is backing the $20-million film, but if Myers is feeling any pressure, he isn't showing it. Things are quite relaxed, if a little loony, here in the plaid, plaid, plaid, plaid world of Stuart and May Mackenzie's living room, which has been nailed together inside a huge warehouse near Candlestick Park on the industrial outskirts of San Francisco.
The Mackenzie home is a festival of Celtic design, with enough plaid chairs and sofas, heraldic crests and lamps made out of bagpipes to make even Ralph Lauren dizzy. Between takes, to the crew's great amusement, Myers boogies around singing "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?" by Scotsman Rod Stewart in a gruff baritone that sounds like Sean Connery on steroids.
Sidling up to co-star Nancy Travis, who plays Charlie's girlfriend, Harriet, the owner of a butcher shop, he whispers: "You know, I killed a man with my butchering tool . . . he looked at me askance. Have you ever been looked at askance?"
"He's a private actor, likes to keep himself apart. He's very somber, actually," Travis comments to an on-looker, before adding an emphatic ". . .\o7 Not!\f7 "
What "Wayne's World" did for Wayne-glish--the dubious lingo spoken by Wayne, his co-host Garth and now, much of the rest of the world, in which girls are "babes," Madonna is the "queen of Babe-alonia" and "not!" is a way of contradicting rational thought--"I Married an Axe Murderer" may do for such Scotticisms as \o7 wee\f7 and \o7 bonny\f7 .
If, that is, Myers' fans can recognize their hero. As Stuart, he is disguised in a realistic-looking gray wig and thick bifocals that make Myers look at least a couple of decades older than his 29 years. A red flannel shirt flaps around a fake beer gut that is partially concealed by boxer shorts in an eye-dazzling red tartan check. The ensemble is completed by a pair of geriatric-looking slippers and black socks held up by elastic garters that clasp the actor's spindly knees.
Charlie doesn't look anything like Wayne either. The shoulder-length shag metal-head do and funky T-shirts and jeans are gone, replaced by a trendy wardrobe and a shorter, reddish-brown haircut that enhances Myers' face. Cary Woods, who is producing the movie along with Rob Fried, is clearly pleased as he describes the actor's transformation. "He looks like a real leading man. He's obsessive about working out. He plays hockey every day and he lost about 20 pounds to do the part."
Director Thomas Schlamme believes Charlie is less of a caricature than Myers' previous roles. "He's a leading man and he's very far from Wayne," the director notes. "Although there are qualities of him that are very boyish, he's playing it where Charlie has to take a journey by finding a woman and proposing."
The movie's plot revolves around Charlie's problems with commitment and the fact that once he finally falls in love, the object of his affection is apparently a homicidal maniac. In this scene, Charlie has brought his girlfriend, the possible ax murderer, Harriet, home to meet his parents. Through split-screen camera work, Myers is playing both of his characters in the same scene, on alternate shooting days. Today he is Stuart, yesterday he was Charlie.
Fricker, the Irish actress best known in this country for her Academy Award-winning role as Christy Brown's mother in "My Left Foot," has the role of Charlie Mackenzie's mom, May, a transplanted Scot who is mad for all things American, particularly country music. She enters the set in a cowgirl outfit and a Dolly Parton-style bouffant, warbling, "Hey, did you happen to see the most beautiful girl in the world"--all trilling \o7 rrrrr\f7 s and hooting \o7 ooooo\f7 s--while Myers as Stuart yells, "Aaachhhhhh--shut it, May! Just shut it!"