Jewish Journal

One Shagadelic Sourpuss

by Naomi Pfefferman

Posted on Jul. 25, 2002 at 8:00 pm

She's back, baby -- and dare we say it? -- she's shaggable. In the third go-round of Mike Myers' Bond spoof, "Austin Powers in Goldmember," Mindy Sterling returns as Frau Farbissina ("sourpuss" in Yiddish), Dr. Evil's number-one squeeze and henchwoman. But she's decidedly less, well, farbissina.

"She's a bit more domestic," says 49-year-old Sterling, an improv veteran. "She's a lot more attractive. She even has a hot little love scene."

A tarted-up Frau -- initially based on Lotte Lenya's shrill character in "To Russia With Love" -- locks jaw with Evil (Myers) in a hilarious prison conjugal visit sequence. "I wear a blond wig with hideous dark roots, a very short jeans skirt, garish press-on nails and outrageous falsies in my bra," says Sterling, who was glad to ditch Farbissina's usual military garb. "The dutiful Frau's trying to blend in with the other white-trash wives visiting their hubbies in prison."

The over-the-top scene is what one would expect of Sterling, who honed her comic instincts growing up with a Borscht Belt comedian dad, Dick Sterling.

It was while doing improv at the Groundlings Theater in Los Angeles that she first met Myers, who remembered the Jewish actress while casting his first Powers film in 1997. He said he got Farbissina's Yiddish name from his Jewish wife and mother-in-law -- the inspiration for his schmoozy "Saturday Night Live" character, Linda Richman, the host of "Coffee Talk."

In the 1999 sequel, Frau's revealed to be the mother of Dr. Evil's nebbish son, Scott (Seth Green). In "Goldmember," a sexier Sterling gets slapped on the tush by Michael Caine, who portrays the titular spy's groovy-but-deadbeat dad.

The actress hopes to play an even more femme Frau in the future. "I'd love it if the fourth movie explores domestic life at home with the Evils," she says. "Like, if Frau has a pregnancy scare or Scottie's dating -- very much like 'The Osbournes' on MTV."

"Goldmember" opens today in Los Angeles.

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