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THE LOVE GURU

Directing The Guru
Myers' producing partner, Michael De Luca, instantly recognized his inimitable touch in the screenplay. "Mike Myers, unlike a lot of comic actors of his generation, creates entire worlds in his stories,” comments De Luca. "He starts with a single idea and then builds an entire original universe around it. You really can't compare his movies to any other movie comedies out there because they always contain something people have never seen before.”

This seemed especially true in the case of Guru Pitka, whom De Luca notes rides a very unusual line between the uproarious and the uplifting. "He's a wonderful character and you also kind of want him to come along and fix your life. That's the charm of this character,” says the producer. "Guru Pitka inhabits an unusually positive world for a comedy, and his warmth and unending optimism is really appealing.”

With the screenplay finished, Myers began his search for a director who could take his vision of the Guru's world and set it into motion with all the manic energy it demanded. He decided to take a chance on a young, promising director, Marco Schnabel, who had previously been Jay Roach's invaluable aide on the "Austin Powers” films. "Marco is super-smart, loves movies, he's funny and he knows how to make beautiful worlds on the movie screen,” summarizes Myers. "I think this is the beginning of a long and illustrious career for him.”

For Schnabel, the chance to direct a project starring his comic idol was a dream come true. "I'm just a giant Mike Myers fan,” he says. "I grew up with his comedy in Second City and on ‘Saturday Night Live.' ‘Wayne's World' was, for me, the ‘Annie Hall' of my generation. Having worked on ‘Austin Powers,' I was very much schooled in his brand of comedy and when he called me about ‘The Love Guru,' I saw an opportunity to create another incredible comic universe.”

From the start, Schnabel was well aware that Myers' films have their own unique vocabulary and rhythms. "Mike is an amazing improviser. Each scene is actually very tightly thought out before we get on the set, but then you know that new ideas will emerge,” he explains. "To keep things fresh, Mike is constantly throwing out different lines and different reactions. His mind is just constantly thinking of ways to make something funnier and better.”

Schnabel had also developed a deep affection for the character of Guru Pitka. "By the time I got involved, Guru Pitka was already a fully realized creation and it was really exciting,” the director notes. "He's sort of the foolish wise man, who can be whacky but also very profound. I thought it was a very interesting balance Mike had achieved.”

On the set, he found a great groove with Myers. Observes the film's costar Jessica Alba: "Marco just kind of put himself completely in Mike's mindset during the shoot, which was terrific. He knew what he needed to get from each of us, because he was so much inside Mike's brain.”

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