Austin Powers in Goldmember, the third installment in a franchise that launched to modest success and ballooned to an abiding cultural phenomenon, turns 20 this summer. Destiny’s Child would release one final album in 2004, but Goldmember — the seventh-highest-grossing movie of 2002 — marks Beyoncé’s transition from girl-group captain to singular superstar. It’s when Beyoncé Knowles became simply Beyoncé, even if it feels nothing like the Beyoncé we know today. With the movie came her first solo single (the underrated funk jam “Work It Out“) and a bridge to the image-defining smash “Crazy in Love,” generally considered her true breakthrough.
At the time, Beyoncé was anxious to prove herself as an actress. (Crossover fame remained very important in the early 2000s. Just ask Mariah Carey.) Her only credit was Carmen: A Hip Hopera, MTV’s contemporary spin on the classic French opera. That’s where Goldmember producer John Lyons got the idea to enlist her to play Foxxy, a stylish FBI agent who used to shag Austin (Mike Myers) and moonlights as a nightclub singer at Studio 69. As Beyoncé recounted in 2002, she auditioned twice. “I read with Mike and just tried to be the straight guy. When I left, I was convinced I wasn’t going to get it,” she told Newsweek. For her callback, she “went back in wearing a Pam Grier–like catsuit, an Afro wig, and had memorized every blaxploitation film ever made.” Her fate was sealed.