I previously mentioned its top-shelf opening joke, but one of the weirdest tangential tidbits from Mike Myers’ The Love Guru involves the repeated evocation of Mariska Hargitay‘s name as a sort of blessed mantra.
As with Myers’ Austin Powers character, the preparation for the film involved a number of improvisational public performances of the character, to help workshop material, and that’s where the Hargitay joke came from. “A friend of mine and I played Mike’s main devotees,” explains co-writer Graham Gordy, “so we shaved our heads, and did intros about how the guru changed our lives. I was a junior high basketball coach from Joplin, Missouri that was selling meth out of the trunk of my Chrysler LeBaron, and the Guru Pitka found me face down in vomit behind an Outback Steakhouse, and pulled me up and helped me out. And this other guy, Eric Gilliland, is friends with Mariska Hargitay. So when he said that she was going to be there one night, at one of the shows, we just started saying [her name], and then we started saying ‘Paula Zahn.’ Mariska Hargitay was there and started laughing hysterically in the crowd. That may have been the first stage show we ever did, and it just caught on from there. And we were like, ‘Really? People know who Mariska Hargitay is, but will they get that as a joke?’ But eventually it became so ridiculous that it just stayed.”