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Friday, 26 July, 2002, 06:53 GMT 07:53 UK
Mike Myers' multi-faceted rise
Mike Myers as Austin Powers
Austin Powers is Myers' most successful creation

Hollywood actor Mike Myers' most famous role may be that of International Man of Mystery Austin Powers, but there is no secret to the reason for the actor's success.

From an early age as a budding performer, Myers has consistently proved his audience-pulling comic genius.

In addition, and away from the camera, the actor has backed up his creativity with a flair for business, founding his own production company.

As a result, at the age of 39, Myers is one of the movie industry's hottest properties, and among the world's richest stars.

Mike Myers
Myers owns Eric's Boy production company

Canadian Myers' specific flair lies in his ability for mimicry and disguise - an ability that has led to comparisons with the late comic actor Peter Sellers.

Myers lists Sellers among his favourite celebrities, along with other comic legends, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore.

And Myers has reportedly been offered $20m (13m) to play Sellers' celebrated character Inspector Clouseau in a remake of The Pink Panther.

TV star

In his three Austin Powers movies, Myers takes on a number of personas and accents, from the dandy spoof English spy to a Scottish Sumo wrestler.

Before Powers, Myers was catapulted to fame playing the heavy metal-loving geek Wayne Campbell in Wayne's World.

Comic legend Peter Sellers
Peter Sellers was one of Myers' inspirations

Myers' fascination with playing anyone other than himself began at an early age.

As a teenager, he would act out his Wayne's World character to impress girls.

Brought up in Scarborough, Ontario, Myers was accepted into Toronto's Second City Comedy ensemble - famous for improvisation - as soon as he left high school.

By the age of 20, Myers was the star of his own TV series, Mullarkey and Myers.

He also did stints as a presenter of an all-night Canadian music video show.

But his TV career really took off in 1988 when he fulfilled a long-standing ambition to join the perennially popular Saturday Night Live entertainment show in the US.

Jackpot

Myers spent six seasons on the show, during which time he brought to life many of the characters he had been honing for years, including Wayne Campbell.

Myers won an Emmy for his writing, and fellow Saturday Night Live comedian Dana Carvey joined Myers in Wayne's World in 1992.

The film's 1993 sequel, Wayne's World 2, was however a disappointment, as was Myers' other film that year, So I Married an Axe Murderer.

Shrek
Myers voiced the star character in hit animation Shrek

But no matter, because not long after Myers hit the jackpot with his first Austin Powers outing, writing and producing the film.

The production company was by then also Myers' own and which he called Eric's Boy, after his UK-born father.

The sequel, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, followed in 1999.

It was accompanied by a huge marketing campaign, leaving no doubt as to the importance by then attached to Myers and his star vehicle.

And, although poorly received by the critics, the film went on to be a bigger money-spinner than the first.

Legal strife

Myers next big coup again involved adopting another persona, but this time without being visible, as he voiced the big green ogre in Dreamworks' Oscar-winning animation Shrek.

But it has not all been plain sailing for Myers. Along the way, he has found himself at the centre of a high-profile and potentially costly legal case.

In 2000 he sued Universal Pictures for $20m, claiming the company tried to bully him into making a film.

Myers' action came just weeks after Universal launched its own case against the actor for pulling out of the project, called Dieter.

The film - for which Myers was to be paid $20m - was to be based on a character Myers made popular while on Saturday Night Live.

Myers was not happy with the script and put a hold on the film, rather than compromise his creative integrity.

In the end, the argument was settled out of court under undisclosed terms.

On a brighter note, Myers is waiting to tally up the success of his third Austin Powers movie Goldmember.

And for the future, he will play the stovetop hat-wearing title character in The Cat in the Hat, a live-action version of the Dr Seuss classic.

See also:

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