The First ‘Austin Powers’ Was Nearly Rated R, And Not Because Of All The Nudity Blocking

Tuesday, May 2nd will mark the 20th anniversary of Mike Myers‘ classic spy spoof Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. To celebrate the occasion, the Hollywood Reporter produced a massive oral history — combining interviews with the “famously press-shy Canadian comedian,” Elizabeth Hurley, Seth Green, Robert Wagner, director Jay Roach and many other members of the cast and crew — that recounts the film’s gestation, production and reception. The whole article is worth your time, though a discussion of the famous nude-blocking scene sparked a rather startling revelation about the movie’s original rating.

For starters, the continuous shot of Myers and Hurley’s characters constantly blocking each other’s private parts from the camera was shot at the Church of Scientology’s Celebrity Center in Los Angles, of all places. “It took a whole day, as it was one continuous take,” Hurley recalled. “Mike and I were nude but covered with little bits of red sticky tape.” As weird as the location was, however, Roach’s bit about his battle with the Motion Picture Association of America sticks out the most:

We got an R-rating. We had to negotiate and cut. The nudity blocking was something the MPAA wanted to be sure we didn’t go too far with: the cheeky phallic references, like Elizabeth biting the sausage and holding the melons up. But they were all pretty innocent body-shape jokes. The only thing they asked us to do in the final cut, which was kind of surprising to me, was they thought there was too much butt-cheek on Mike when he got thawed out, so I went for a slightly more profile version.

In other words, what the MPAA’s rating body took the most issue with in Austin Powers wasn’t the nudity-blocking shot’s near-misses involving Hurley’s melons. Rather, the mysterious and opaque group was largely concerned with Myers’ naked butt in an altogether different scene. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery almost got an R-rating because of its title character’s ass cheeks in the thawing scene.

(Via the Hollywood Reporter)