'Wayne's World' Director Penelope Spheeris on Why She Left Hollywood: 'I Went Through Too Much Pain'

"Hollywood is a lonely, lonely desert, especially as a woman," said director Penelope Spheeris

Photo: Mike Windle/FilmMagic

Wayne’s World director Penelope Spheeris has said farewell to Hollywood for good — but it wasn’t an easy decision.

The 73-year-old director opened up about leaving the industry in an interview with the A.V. Club in which she said, “there’s no forgiveness” in Hollywood.

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

Spheeris is best known for her 1981 documentary The Decline of Western Civilization as well as for her 1992 film Wayne’s World which is her highest-grossing movie to date with $183.1 million at the box office.

She continued directing films such as The Little Rascals, Black Sheep and worked with Harvey and Bob Weinstein on 1998’s Senseless which grossed $13 million from a budget of $15 million.

“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 recalled. “And as a matter of fact, that was that.”

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She continued, “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.”

The experience proved heartbreaking for Spheeris, who went on to film 1999’s Hollyweird. Her last film was 2011’s Balls to the Wall.

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

She continued, “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.”

While Spheeris’ experience making films was tough she said ultimately she wasn’t “bitter.”

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

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