They were wrong on both counts: The song was a number one hit in the U.K. and cracked the Top 10 in the U.S. But by the early ’90s the song had been mostly retired to a quiet life of occasional appearances on classic rock radio and little more.
The gleeful scene has become iconic itself, a cultural touchstone that’s been parodied, copied and celebrated almost since the moment of its release back in 1992. Here, the creative forces behind the scene and the beneficiaries of its influence tell the story of how all that happened and how it almost didn’t.
Mike Myers (writer, Wayne Campbell”): I grew up in Scarborough, Ontario of British parents. Me and my brother, our friends’ car was a powder blue Dodge Dart Swinger that had a vomit stain on the side of it that someone chiseled in the shape of Elvis Presley.
We’d drive down the Don Valley Parkway, listening to BohemianRhapsody. We would time it to enter the Toronto city limits when the rocking part would kick in.
Myers: I wanted it to sort of reflect a kind of spirit, a time in your life before you had to do adult things and pay taxes and all that stuff. At that time, the public had kind of forgotten about Queen a little.
I think that’s really smart,” but I didn’t have any jokes for a Guns N Roses song. Spheres: I don’t personally remember a big argument about the placement of BohemianRhapsody, but my guess is that I was probably pushing for Guns N Roses.
I don’t want to make this movie if it’s not BohemianRhapsody.” I just love the song. He just kept saying, “You’ll forgive me if I want to make this movie a hit.” He was just testing my passion for it.
Sean Sullivan (“Phil”): Reading the script and coming to that scene I was amazed because literally what we did in the scene was something that I did with my older brother Stacey in my old beat-up Vega. Lee Targeted (“Terry”): When we had the first read-through there were just four guys in the car: Dana , Mike, Sean and Michael Demise.
I grew up in Connecticut, rocking out in cars.” And literally, the next draft came out two days later, and I was in the fucking back seat. Just really smart, caring and very generous to me because God knows I didn’t know what the hell I was doing.
In the olden days, they would have these tiny monitors, but I could see her mouth underneath it. Spheres: It’s funny because people insist to this day that the film was entirely shot in Aurora, near Chicago.
But it was really hard to find a street in Los Angeles that was reminiscent of an Aurora kind of place. Sullivan: It was an all night shoot, with West Covina doubling for Aurora, Illinois.
I don’t want to make this movie if it’s not BohemianRhapsody.” Sullivan: We pretty much shot it in sequence, at least the stuff I did, with them picking me up on the street.
When you’re shooting, if you get a kick of a light off a glass or a window, you need some dulling spray. It’s this spray that kind of takes the onus off the bright light.
Sullivan: We were in the car for a couple of hours, just playing through the song. Spheres: By this time in the shoot, these guys all knew each other pretty well.
Spheres: About halfway though, Mike is like, “I think we’ve got enough footage on this particular scene. Sullivan: You get into a scene like that and you just sort of go for it without realizing that you’re going to be doing this for a while, so maybe save something because everyone is on the verge of snapping their neck.
It’s fun for about half an hour, and then it’s like, “This is really starting to hurt.” Targeted: It’s not only tiring, but I probably have that football player thing, traumatic brain injury.
And frankly, having the song playing that loud is pretty motivating. Mike said, “Not only does my neck hurt, and I think we’ve got enough footage, but I’m not so sure this is working, and it’s very funny.” And I’m like, “I guarantee you it’s funny.
As a well-meaning, twenty something Canadian, I just wanted to be respectful to the song and honor it. Brian May (guitarist, Queen): Mike Myers phoned me up and said, “We’ve got this thing which we think is great.
The funny thing was, we always regarded the song as tongue in cheek ourselves. If it came on the radio, we would all be headbanging when it came to the heavy bit as well, us as a group.
Spheres: Freddie Mercury was sick around that time, and before the film was even released, he passed away. I didn’t know Queen’s music at that point, but it resonated with me because it was so theatrical and silly.
Carved as Garth said, “I think I’m going to hurl,” as he appeared overwhelmed by the number of people in the audience. “Don’t hurl cause if you honk I’ll spew,” Myers said in one of the memorable lines in the film.
Wayne (Myers) and Garth (Carved) are two friends who host a local TV show. In an iconic opening sequence, Wayne, Garth and three of their friends drive through town while blasting BohemianRhapsody in their car.
The use of Queen’s song propelled it to number two on the Billboard singles charts 17 years after its initial release. The actors’ association with Queen came full circle in the film when he portrayed EMI executive Ray Foster, who turns down the song.
1 hit on U.K. singles chart, where it remained for nine weeks, a record for a British band. And it returned to that position in December 1991 after BohemianRhapsody was rereleased in the wake of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury’s death.
The movie, released in February 1992, featured BohemianRhapsody in what’s become one of comedy’s most iconic scenes. The film based on the Myers-created “Saturday Night Live” sketch opens with Wayne, the rock-obsessed host of a public access show, getting picked up in a 1970s beat-up AMC Pacer.
The last time we had seen them was on Live Aid, and then there was a few albums afterward where they were sort of straying away from their arena rock roots. It was Myers’ first movie, and he found inspiration in his Ontario adolescence, when he, his brother and their friends would drive around and sing the Queen classic.
“If I took somebody else’s ‘Galileo!’ or somebody took mine, a fight would ensue,” Myers told Rolling Stone. The song also conveyed a sort of silly abandon Meyers wanted for his characters; plus, it would help make the movie feel as if you were not exactly sure what year it was, he told Aaron.
Director Penelope Spheres told Rolling Stone she did not “personally remember a big argument about the placement of ‘ BohemianRhapsody, ’ but my guess is that I was probably pushing for Guns N’ Roses.” I don’t want to make this movie if it’s not ‘ BohemianRhapsody, ’ and they were like, who the F are you?” Myers told Aaron.
Myers eventually won out, and they shot the cruising scene throughout an entire night. Queen guitarist Brian May told Rolling Stone that Myers gave him a tape of the scene and that he took to Mercury, who was sick at the time.
“I think he would be tickled by the irony that the only thing that would resurrect this is a wonderful comedy film. For his part, Myers said he never stuck to his vision because he thought the song would once again become a big hit.