Wayne's World director quit movies because 'women can't make mistakes in Hollywood'

Ben Arnold
Penelope Spheeris (Credit: Rex)

In Wayne’s World, director Penelope Spheeris made a culturally significant movie that is still quoted to this day.

She helped propel Mike Myers and Dana Carvey to international fame, and it was a box office smash too, making $183 million in 1992 from a $20 million budget.

Read more: Mike Myers and Dana Carvey reunite at the Oscars

But she turned her back on Hollywood just a few years later, after one of her later movies, Senseless, made with the Weinstein brothers in 1998, bombed.

Speaking to The A.V. Club the 73-year-old director explained that there’s ‘no forgiveness’ in Hollywood, especially for women working in the industry.

“Women can’t make mistakes,” she said. You can’t screw up when you’re a woman. One little mistake and you’re done.”

Penelope Spheeris and Dana Carvey (Credit: Everett)

Senseless, a comedy starring Marlon Wayans, David Spade and Matthew Lillard, made $13 million but from a $15 million budget, and was pummelled by critics.

“I was just finishing this movie and I said, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t want to work in this movie business anymore,’” Spheeris adds. “And as a matter of fact, that was that.

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“It didn’t do very well. And as a woman, when you do a movie that doesn’t do well, then you’re done. You’re in director jail.

“[Hollywood] changed into something that I didn’t want to be a part of. I really didn’t want to be a part of mainstream Hollywood anymore. It was too — it’s ugly.

“You have no friends in Hollywood. Hollywood is a lonely, lonely desert, especially as a woman. At this point, I don’t want to make a movie.”

Wayne’s World (Credit: Paramount)

However, she is quick to add that she is not bitter about what happened.

“I just feel like I went through too much pain. I really did enjoy my life, being in the movie business,” she went on.

“I don’t need them. I really don’t. Especially now, what am I going to do? Work for a year on a movie and make $50,000? They can blow me! That’s a quote. You can print that.”

Spheeris is also known for her celebrated cult punk documentary series The Decline of Western Civilisation, the first released in 1981, with second and third movies arriving in 1988 and 1998.

She added that she’s pleased the way things appear to be changing in Hollywood today, however.

I’m very glad that today there are more opportunities for young women,” she says. “I don’t think it’s a useless endeavor at this point, by any means. I almost feel jealous that I was not able to take advantage of this movement.

“Because it’s one thing to be a woman in this business, but let me tell you something, it’s another thing to be an older woman in this business. Because then you’ve got two strikes against you from the start.

“That’s why I don’t give a f**k about the business anymore. I was there at a time when I could do well, and I could contribute, and make some decent movies. I do wish these young women well, and I hope that they — look, it’s all about learning lessons. I learned a lot of lessons doing this work.”