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Directed by Penelope Spheeris, left, and written by Mike Myers, right, and Bonnie Turner & Terry Turner, Wayne's World premiered thirty years ago this month.Suzanne Tenner/Courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment

Hard as it is to believe, but there was once a time when Hollywood studios regularly made comedies for the big screen. Even more unthinkable: a good portion of those films were spinoffs of Saturday Night Live characters (kids, ask your parents). Thirty years ago this month, Wayne’s World, the biggest and best SNL movie, premiered, turning Canadian Mike Myers into an instant star and propelling a whole lot of “schwing” catchphrases amongst preteen boys who had no idea what they were talking about (guilty).

Three decades later, and Wayne’s World holds up remarkably well – the film remains a zippy and high-energy blast of pop-culture goofiness, with enough sharp one-liners and non-sequitur gags to put contemporary comedies (wherever they might be) to shame. But while Wayne’s World turned Myers into a cultural force and gave producer/SNL mastermind Lorne Michaels the licence to produce all kinds of inferior productions, director Penelope Spheeris never quite got the recognition she deserved.

To mark Wayne’s World’s 30th anniversary, which is being celebrated by studio Paramount with a new Blu-ray release, The Globe and Mail spoke with a remarkably candid Spheeris about the comedy’s legacy and her challenging time in Hollywood.

Five years ago, when Wayne’s World was celebrating its 25th anniversary, you said that you hadn’t watched the film since its release. Is that still the case?

That’s the great thing about telling the truth: If you tell the truth, you never have to go back and ask yourself, “What did I say?” I have not watched the film since it was made, it’s true. I’ve been to screenings and the 25th anniversary thing that Lorne put on at the [Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences]. But I haven’t seen it since I watched it with the opening night audience in 1992. I don’t look at any of my films. I can’t. It brings up memories, not in a negative way, but I see things that I want to change and it’s just too painful. I want to keep going forward.

Why take the time to participate now in interviews about its 30th anniversary, then?

You know what, I ask myself that. But it’s freaky because all the details are still there. I have recollections and moments with me from working on the movie that are burned into my brain.

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Wayne’s World remains a zippy and high-energy blast of pop-culture goofiness, with enough sharp one-liners and non-sequitur gags to put contemporary comedies to shame.Courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment

You’ve spoken about what a difficult shoot and release it was at the time. Is it kind of, I don’t want to use the word traumatic, but dredging up those memories …

It wasn’t a difficult shoot, but it was challenging, it was fun. When the movie was over was when the difficult part came in. When I wasn’t offered to direct Wayne’s World 2, I was devastated. When you do well on your job and then you’re treated mean, you’re like, “What?” It’s hard to take. But it was a great life lesson because I was resentful for a long time and I felt terrible, but I worked through that and it doesn’t bother me any more. I forgive, I forgot, I don’t care, life goes on. We’re here for other things than movies in this life. I don’t mean to burst your bubble.

My bubble’s been burst long ago. I’m curious, though, if you’ve watched the few new Wayne’s World things that have popped up in recent years, like the Super Bowl ad from last year.

I don’t mean to sound disrespectful, but the bottom line is: I don’t care. People asked me if I directed that. You can bet that if I didn’t do Wayne’s World 2, I didn’t do the commercials.

I don’t suppose you’ve had many conversations with Mike Myers and Dana Carvey?

We had the reunion at the academy, which was nice. But it’s not like I ever get a call from them. And you know what? [Mock crying] I’m really sad about that! No, I don’t care. The bottom line is, as a woman in Hollywood, you can’t ever care too much. It’s too hard. You have to go, “Whatever!” and throw it over your shoulder. I do invite Tia [Carrere] to go to film festivals, because we have a good time. But that’s about it.

This is probably one of the most honest and refreshing interviews I’ve done in a while.

Well, mama don’t like no bull. I’m glad you appreciate it, and I hope I don’t offend anybody. I’ve been told, “You know, Penelope, with you there are no filters.”

After Wayne’s World, you directed a number of these big mainstream Hollywood comedies, and you got burned out. Those types of movies don’t seem to be made any more.

You’re right and I don’t know why. But whenever I go, “Gosh my life is so different now then when I was an active director for the studios,” I go, “Well, I don’t want to do the movies they’re making now.” I feel so fortunate that I was there at that time. You take a lot of crap from executives and producers, but I was very fortunate. Plus they paid me a ton of money! I was dirt poor until I was 45 years old. People ask me what advice I have for young women filmmakers today, and I say this: The environment feels a little bit better now than when I was doing it. But it’s never going to be equal, so let’s not expect that. You should have a backup plan.

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Wayne’s World’s 30th anniversary is being celebrated by studio Paramount with a new Blu-ray release.Suzanne Tenner/Courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment

Do you have plans to complete the long-awaited fourth part of your landmark punk-rock documentary series, The Decline of Western Civilization?

See that computer over there [points to the background]? It’s in there. My daughter and I started it a couple of years ago, and then I got sidetracked building houses. I just built two houses, so now I’m going to go back into it because I’m sick of dealing with the Department of Building and Safety. Building a house is like having a crew on a movie. I walk onto the set, some guy says, “Hey lady, you can’t tell me what to do!” and then I go, “Well, you’re fired, dude.”

Wayne’s World is now available on a 30th anniversary edition Blu-ray

This interview has been condensed and edited

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