The ‘Wayne’s World’ Reference In ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Works On More Than One Totally Excellent Level
Mild spoilers ahead. The opening scene of Wayne's World is iconic. Wayne Campbell, Garth Algar, and three of their friends (one of whom is about to spew) drive around town blasting Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody". They sing each "Galileo" and headbang through the song's hardest rocking moments. But while the scene has gone down in movie history, the Wayne's World and Queen journey is not yet over, because the new Queen biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody, has a Wayne's World reference.
The connection goes further than the song "Bohemian Rhapsody" alone. Mike Myers is actually in the new movie and plays a character named Ray Foster, an executive at EMI, the band's record label. (While Queen really was signed to EMI, according to History vs. Hollywood, Ray Foster seems to be fictional.) During a scene where the band is trying to convince Ray to let them release "Bohemian Rhapsody" as the lead single off their latest album, A Night at the Opera, he keeps pushing back. He hates the idea because the song is six-minutes long, operatic, and isn't the type of thing that will make teenagers headbang in their car. (Get it? Get it?)
The line is a clear reference to Wayne's World, but it also works in the scene because "Bohemian Rhapsody" did become hugely popular and something people are still singing and headbanging along to today. At the time it was number one on the U.K. Singles Chart for nine weeks, and after Wayne's World came out in 1992, the song made its way to number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
"Bohemian Rhapsody" was doubted at first, and that was also the case with Myers' use of it in Wayne's World. In an oral history of the scene for Rolling Stone in 2015, Myers, who both wrote and starred in the film, explained that he grew up loving the song and would drive around listening to it with his brother and their friends. "We would time it to enter the Toronto city limits when the rocking part would kick in ... It’s just something that I always back-pocketed. Wayne’s World was my childhood. I knew only to write what I knew."
Myers said that producer Lorne Michaels pushed for a Guns N' Roses song, but he wouldn't have it: "At one point I said to everybody, 'I’m out. I don’t want to make this movie if it’s not "Bohemian Rhapsody".' I just love the song. It’s ballsy that it’s that long. It’s ballsy that it’s two songs in one, that’s it’s opera. Then when it kicks in, it’s just such a fantastic release. I didn’t think of another possibility."
Freddie Mercury passed away only a couple of months before Wayne's World was released, but he did get to see the "Bohemian Rhapsody" scene before he died. "Mike gave me a tape which I took 'round to Freddie and played to him," Queen guitarist Brian May told Rolling Stone. "Freddie loved it. He just laughed and thought it was great, this little video. The funny thing was, we always regarded the song as tongue-in-cheek ourselves. If it would come on the radio, we would all be headbanging when it came to the heavy bit as well, us as a group. It was very close to our sense of humor."
Now, another layer has been added to the Wayne's World/Queen connection, and just like the first one, it actually does work.