Arash Markazi
Friday June 20th, 2008

Mike Myers is sitting in the corner of a suite atop the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, sipping on a cup of English tea, wearing a black Beatles shirt. The usually gregarious Myers is soft-spoken as he talks about the inspiration for latest film, The Love Guru, which opens this Friday.

"It's about enlightenment through lightening up, which is what my father used to say," says Myers, whose father passed away in 1991. "It was hard to come to terms with his death, but I began reading spiritual and philosophical books and Deepak Chopra and that's where the Guru Pitka character comes from."

Myers thinks about his father every time he watches the Toronto Maple Leafs, the team his dad fell in love with when he moved to Toronto from Liverpool in 1956. While the Leafs haven't won the Stanley Cup in 41 years, Myers was able to finally see them win it in his movie.

"I bleed blue," he said. "So if I don't see them win in my lifetime, I could at least write it in that Field of Dreams way. If you write it, it will come."

I recently sat down with Myers to discuss the curse hanging over the Leafs, the CBC discarding the Hockey Night in Canada theme song and who he'd want to take on in the penalty box à la Tie Domi.

SI: How did you go about casting this film?

Myers: Well, with Jessica Alba, we had mutual friends. She's beautiful, lovely, hilarious, a great actress and so down-to-earth, and hockey needs that. Hockey is a down-to-earth sport.

I met Justin Timberlake somewhere in Europe after the second Shrek. We were at this party and started doing comedy bits. Everyone had gone home and we're still doing comedy bits. I kept thinking, this guy is hilarious. I had kept it in the back of my mind to write something for him. I've been thinking about this for years.

With Verne Troyer, Jay Roach, the director of Austin Powers, had cast Verne as Mini Me. The first day, I'm talking to him on set and I thought, "Why did I make Mini Me not talk?" If I had known he was so funny I would have.

Del Close, one of the founding members of Second City, who was a great teacher, said that making things is a transformative process. Verne Troyer is hilarious and he has a great sharp take on stuff, so when it was time to pick a coach, I said, "Verne."

I had seen Romany Malco on Weeds and I just smile when I see him. I just think he's lovable and vulnerable. He was great. And Ben Kingsley, I heard through a mutual friend that he had a great sense of humor, so I sent him the script and he said, "I totally understand the tone of this movie. I get that it's a silly fun movie that's a delivery system for a nice message." It was awesome.

It was the same with Austin Powers. I sent a script out to Steven Spielberg, Tom Cruise, Kevin Spacey, Danny DeVito, John Travolta and Gwyneth Paltrow and they all said yes and all arrived on the same day. It was an embarrassment of riches. I'm very lucky. I've been doing this for a while now, and when I was kid in Toronto, I didn't think I would necessarily get a job. Now I'm so grateful for how well it's gone. I literally have out-of-body experiences. Like at the premiere, I was like, what is this, how did I get here?

SI: In the movie, you have the Toronto Maple Leafs go through a fictional "Bullard Curse," having gone 40 years without a Stanley Cup win. That sounds awfully familiar.

Myers: I wrote the curse because I believe if somebody tells you that you are cursed, it's not true. What people say about you is none of your business. What you say about you is entirely your business. People may say bad things about you, but you won't say bad things about yourself.

My belief about the Toronto Maple Leafs is that there is such a rich tradition of hockey in Toronto that eventually we will adopt the philosophy that NASA has. There are no failures, just early attempts at success. Once that culture of success enters into the Toronto Maple Leafs organization, I feel that we would have a dynasty. The fans would be so happy that nobody would want to stop that train. You will not get a more appreciative group of people than Toronto Maple Leafs fans. I personally will lose my mind.

It will be slightly bittersweet because my dad won't be there to see it, but I'll go with my brothers, honor my dad and drink from the Cup in my dad's name (if they let me, which I think they will). It's another miracle and blessing in my life. I won't touch the Stanley Cup until that day. I have had opportunities to touch it, but I will not. I barely look at it. It's not time yet. I'm going to wait. I'm going to wait my turn.

SI: There's a scene at the end of the movie that shows you, playing you, celebrating the Stanley Cup win alongside your buddy Kanye West. Was it hard playing yourself in a moment that you've always dreamt about?

Myers: I can't even describe it. I get so emotionally involved that when it looks like the Leafs are not going to make the playoffs, I can't watch any hockey. So I didn't watch any hockey in the playoffs this year.

Me and my best friend, who I've known for 33 years -- whenever it's the final countdown and we've been knocked out of the playoffs, the phone rings and we talk about the season. What happened, what are we going to do, I'm so depressed, so depressed. It's not right that we get that depressed. I recognize it, but you do.

I remember in 1993, when the Leafs were playing the Kings and lost to them in the Campbell Conference Final, I didn't get any work done. I just ate, drank, slept, breathed in this series. Even when I went to Paris during the series, I was hooked into CNN International the whole time. There are so many moments like that.

When Nikolai Borschevsky scored this goal against Detroit, I lost it because Borschevsky was my guy. I always felt that there was one player out there that I think is me out there.

Then there was Stevie Sullivan, and I loved him because he was short. I always liked the shorter players because I'm 5-foot-7½", even though it says 5- 8 on my hockey card. When I see those guys, the smaller playmakers that just hustle and stuff, I like that.

Dougie Gilmore, I thought was me out there. I never thought Wendel Clark was me, but I always admired him. Ron Ellis, I thought was me when I was a kid. Davie Keon, I thought I was him. I tried to make my hair look like Davie Keon's and I wore No. 14 and I wanted to be him. Oh, you just get so involved and it's an emotional roller coaster, but when that day comes when we win the Cup, it will be great.

SI: The CBC has been in the news lately for dropping the Hockey Night in Canada theme song. How weird will it be not hearing "Canada's Second National Anthem?"

Myers: The song has to be in our culture. It would be crazy if it weren't. Life is filled with nuance and surprises, as they say, and as long as we get to hear the song, I think that's great.

You know, I have a shelf in my home that has different -- I call them miracles -- different miracles that have happened to me. One is the last letter that George Harrison ever wrote to anybody, and it was to me. Wayne Gretzky, when he hosted Saturday Night Live, he gave me an autograph that said, "Dear Mike, Good luck in your career. Wayne, No. 99." The other is sheet music that someone sent me of the Hockey Night in Canada theme, and that's on my shelf, too. It's one of those things that becomes so a part of your life.

Canada is an odd place. If America's flavor was a juicy hamburger and Mexico's was salsa or cilantro -- you know, strong flavors -- Canada's is celery. It's a very subtle flavor. It happens to be my favorite flavor. I'll put celery salt on anything. Canada is a country without cuisine, but it has ingredients. We don't have a dish, but we have Nova Scotia salmon, British Columbia apples, Saskatchewan wheat, Prince Edward Island potatoes. We each have our regional ingredient. Things like the Hockey Night in Canada theme and hockey unify us.

Another thing is that a Canadian can spot another Canadian from a mile away. I've never met a Canadian I wasn't happy to meet anywhere. I was in Normandy and I saw a Canadian Corvette and I went over and started talking to them. They're like, "You're Mike Myers." I had forgotten about that. I just saw their Canadian 'Vette. You feel compelled. It's an odd, subtle thing you can't explain to a non-Canadian.

SI: I spoke with Romany Malco about preparing for his role in the film and he said he had never picked up a hockey stick before, but now he needs to hit the rink a few times a week. What is it that draws you to hockey?

Myers: I think hockey possess the best quality of many sports. The stick-and-ball coordination of baseball, the contact of football, the grace and elegance of speed skating and figure skating and the flow of soccer.

My father was born in Liverpool, England and came to Canada in 1956. He was a staunch soccer fan, staunch Liverpool fan, and he said that within three days he just heard hockey on the radio and fell in love with it. Then when he saw it on TV, he lost his mind. He became the biggest hockey fan in the world.

Honestly, I've never met anybody who I've taken to a hockey game who hasn't said, "This is a great sport. I can't wait to come back." They always want to come back. I'm not a great player but I'm enthusiastic. I started too late, my brother didn't play and my parents were immigrants, so I didn't get raised with it, but I loved playing.

I grew up in Scarborough, where if you're not great by 12, people look at you like, "Why are you still playing?" If I were Prime Minster for a day, my platform would be: What's wrong with House League? It's a gift that has continued to give back to me in terms of fitness.

The spirit of the bench is something unique. They might have the spirit of the dugout in baseball, but because the action is fast-flowing [in hockey], I dare say it's more intense in baseball. That brotherhood you get is something that Romany and Justin loved.

To me, hockey is Canada and Canada is hockey. I don't really know how to separate the two. It's part of my identity and anybody I meet within five minutes knows two things about me: one, I'm Canadian, and two, I love hockey.

SI: What was it like to shoot the movie in Toronto at the Air Canada Centre and really get to be in your backyard?

Myers: It was unbelievable. It was honestly a dream come true. I constantly have out-of-body experiences. It's a situation of one mind-blowing, great experience after another.

The NHL was unbelievably cooperative, positive, supportive, problem-solving. They were great partners and I can't thank them enough. The Toronto Maple Leafs organization embraced this movie, embraced me and did me proud. I felt proud to say to my American friends, this is my country, this is my city and this is my team.

Skating at Air Canada Centre and seeing the seats, it's one of those surreal things. You remember the doctor in Field of Dreams, when he gets a chance to play, and then the little girl gets the hot dog lodged in her throat and he has to go back over the line? I felt like that. It was my Rink of Dreams.

I was skating and playing with these guys. I couldn't play for long because I was in costume with the beard and stuff, but it was unbelievable. You take a slap shot and it goes off the crossbar and into the net and I kept thinking, so this is what it feels like to play here, this is what it sounds like. It was so exciting.

SI: How long have you planned to do a film with a hockey theme?

Myers: Well, I never really plan to do anything. My career is like driving at night with the headlights pointed straight down and you only see that much road ahead of you. You can't really plan anything, but I sent letters home.

One of my greatest moments was being at a hockey game after Wayne's World opened. I was with my brother, who is a scholar of hockey and knows everything about the game. We're sitting there at Maple Leaf Gardens. I really hadn't been there much because we could never afford tickets. So now I'm at a point in my career where they give me tickets and we're sitting in the crowd and Don Koharski is about to drop the puck and he looks up and he says, "Hey, Mike, meet me between the second and third periods. [Someone's] going to come get you."

So all the players and the 16,404 people at Maple Leaf Gardens all turned toward me, and they all were like, "Hey, Mike. Hey, Meyers." I'm like, how did I get here? This is crazy. That was a magical moment.

SI: One of the best Maple Leafs moments from the past decade was Tie Domi beating up a heckling Philadelphia Flyers fan who broke the glass between his seat and the penalty box. Is there anyone you'd like to go Tie Domi on, even for a minute before the referees broke it up?

Myers: Not really. [Laughs] I remember talking to Marty McSorley, who I play pick-up hockey with in Los Angeles, and said to him, "I've always wondered, what's it like to be in a hockey fight?" He said it's exhausting. He said your knuckles hurt, you can't move the next day. It's really tiring and it really hurts. I actually have no fantasy of getting into a hockey fight.

You know, technically, the fighting is bad. [Laughs] It is part of the rules. I'm of many minds about fighting, but you have to put everything on the ice to go at it and these dudes are big, so when you get clocked, you're done. I don't think I want to do that.

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