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Mike Myers makes his first on-screen appearance since 2003 in The Love Guru.
Mike Myers makes his first on-screen appearance since 2003 in The Love Guru. Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Comedian Mike Myers has created a slew of memorable characters throughout his career: Dr. Evil, Austin Powers, Shrek and Wayne's World's Wayne Campbell all serve as cultural reference points.
Now, Myers wants to add another indelible character to that list: The Guru Pitka. He runs a posh, celebrity-swarmed Hollywood ashram — and in Myers' new satirical comedy The Love Guru, he's charged with reuniting a hockey star with his estranged wife so the player can lead his team to win the Stanley Cup.
But The Love Guru may be too outrageous for some. Some Hindu groups fear that the movie promotes offensive stereotypes. Some are even considering a boycott against Paramount Pictures.
Myers, however, says nothing could be further from what he intended. In fact he intended the film, in part, as a tribute to Deepak Chopra, a pioneer in the field of mind-body medicine and Myers' good friend. (Though he's caricatured in the film, Chopra appears in a brief cameo role.)
The Love Guru is also a product of Myers' grief over his father's death in 1991 after a battle with Alzheimer's disease.
"The Guru Pitka started as a way of dealing with that loss," Myers says. "I didn't understand why the universe would take away the one guy I wanted to see all this amazing success that was happening. ... I just started reading — things philosophical, things spiritual."
Myers says that while the film is a comedy, it contains some philosophical truths — ideas that helped him cope after his father's death, now framed as tenets of the Guru Pitka's belief system.
"I wanted to have a very silly delivery system for some of the ideas I actually believe in. ... You've got to initially lighten up, go back to the old pain, and rewrite a new paradigm," Myers says.
In this Fresh Air interview, Myers tells Terry Gross about how his father introduced him to the British comedies that eventually inspired his Austin Powers adventures — and about how he discovered the truth of Lenny Bruce's observation that "comedy is pain plus time."
And while some might find Myers' cheeky brand of comedy inappropriate, the actor says there is heart underneath the raunchy jokes.
"'True love triumphs over lust' is the message of Austin Powers," he says.
The Love Guru is set to open in theaters June 20.