U.S.-born actor, director, writer, musician, and composer best known for his mockumentaries, poking fun at heavy metal music, small town theatre, dog shows, folk music and film-making itself. Christopher Haden-Guest was born February fifth, 1948, in New York City to a U.S. mother and a British father, Peter Haden-Guest, the fourth Baron of Saling in the County of Essex.
He received his dramatic arts training at New York City's High School of Arts and Music and at Bard College, and Guest first appeared in minor film roles in a mixture of film genres including The Hot Rock (1972), Death Wish (1974), Lemmings (1973) (V), and The Long Riders (1980). However, he was also dabbling in writing for several T.V. shows, and when filming Million Dollar Infield (1982) (TV), Guest became acquainted with writer-director Rob Reiner and the two collaborated, along with Michael McKean and Harry Shearer, to pen the script and music for the sleeper hit This Is Spinal Tap (1984).
The mockumentary also starred Guest as dizzy lead guitarist Nigel Tufnel, whose most famous line is surely, "These go to eleven," when referring to the volume settings on the band's rather unique Marshall amplifiers!
Guest then busied himself for several years in the 1980's as a regular performer on "Saturday Night Live" (1975) and, along with fellow Spinal Tap band members lead singer David St. Hubbins, aka Michael McKean; and bassist Derek Smalls, aka Harry Shearer, they regularly appeared as Spinal Tap. In 1992, they released Spinal Tap: Break Like the Wind - The Videos (1992) (V), plus A Spinal Tap Reunion: The 25th Anniversary London Sell-Out (1992) (TV).
Guest had a minor acting role in the courtroom drama of A Few Good Men (1992), before returning to poke fun at wannabe actors in the howlingly funny Waiting for Guffman (1996) with Guest taking center stage as high-strung choreographer Corky St. Clair. He made a return to heavy metal with Spinal Tap: The Final Tour (1998) (V) and Catching Up with Marty DiBergi (2000) (V) before turning his comedic pen to the world of championship dog shows for the sensational comedy Best in Show (2000). The latest mockumentary from Guest and co-writer-actor Eugene Levy was again met with critical praise, and movie fans just loved it, too! In 2003, Guest and Eugene Levy took aim at the folk-music world, and successfully collaborated to write the comedy A Mighty Wind (2003) about the reunion of the Folksmen, a fictional 1960s folk music group.
Guest is married to well-known actress Jamie Lee Curtis with two children, Annie Guest and Thomas, plus he is the brother of actor Nicholas Guest.
|Jamie Lee Curtis||(18 December 1984 - present) 2 children|
Has a remarkable ability to alter his appearance and voice, making each of his characters completely unique
Guest became the 5th Baron Haden-Guest, of Saling in the County of Essex, when his father died in 1996.
Older brother of actor Nicholas Guest, who is heir presumptive to the family title. (As Christopher's children are adopted, they cannot inherit the barony).
Has two adopted children, Annie Guest (December 1986) and Thomas (March 1996). Under the terms of the letters patent that created the Barony of Haden-Guest, they cannot inherit the title, but they can use the courtesy title of the Honourable before their first names.
His idol growing up was comedian Peter Sellers.
When a publicity photo of Guest and his co-stars from This Is Spinal Tap (1984) ran in Rolling Stone magazine, Jamie Lee Curtis saw the picture, fell in love and gave her phone number to Guest's agent. They dated and eventually married.
Guest shoots 10-minute scenes to let the improvisations unfold organically and ends up with about 60 hours of film, which is then edited down over a year and a half to 90 minutes.
Guest's mother was American of Jewish descent, his father was an British hereditary lord (Peter Haden-Guest, an actor and dancer who ended up a UN diplomat).
In 2005, announced his intention to stop making mockumentary films, because he doesn't find them funny anymore.
Lived in New York in the 1960s.
Was the muse for an Asian-American short comedic film entitled Pax Importi Modellus: The Rise of the Import Model (2004), which has gained international attention.
Christopher dropped the Haden from his surname when he started going to acting auditions in his 20s; he thought it sounded long-winded and distracting.
Attended the House of Lords regularly until the passage of the House of Lords Act 1999 barred most hereditary peers from their seats.
He has been a skilled guitarist since the 1960s and has displayed his talents in both Spinal Tap projects and A Mighty Wind (2003). He actually became acquainted with frequent co-stars and on-screen band mates Michael McKean and Harry Shearer at music venues before the three decided to make a career as comedic actors.
No. I don't talk about the family. This is kind of an on-going thing that gets, honestly, to be kind of tiresome, only because, you know, you meet people in Boston and they say, 'Boy, what's it like to wake up with Jamie Lee Curtis?' Well, you know what? We've been married for 12 years, and we have kids, and it's not like we're living some bizarre life here. We go home and we wear sweatpants and the baby takes a dump and we change the diaper. I don't mean to put you off here, but I just tend not to talk about it.
Comedy is like music. You have to know the key and you have to find players with good chops.
People want me to be funny all the time. They think I'm being funny no matter what I say or do and that's not the case. I rarely joke unless I'm in front of a camera. It's not what I am in real life. It's what I do for a living.
I spent more time in America, but I developed a very English sense of humour. I clicked into it deeply with Peter Sellers, who is still probably my favourite comedian. I loved The Goons and then I got into "Beyond the Fringe" and by accident I met Jonathan Miller and those guys. And, of course, they led straight to [Monty] Python.
"Silliness framed in intelligence. Even when it's stupid, you know intelligent people are doing it and that makes it a different joke. Stupid comedy over here [in America] is just plain stupid. It's moronic and I don't find it funny at all." - when asked to define the tradition of English humor.
"It's real acting, in a sense. You're reacting spontaneously to things you've never heard before. You can either do it or not, and if you're with a bunch of people who can, there's nothing more fun." - on improvised acting.
I liked directing The Big Picture (1989). I was happy with it, but I remembered working on "Spinal Tap" and what a joy it was to make and how much we made each other laugh.
The movies have a way of seeping out there over time. We don't put them in 2,000 theaters. It wouldn't work that way.
But I am interested in the notion that people can become so obsessed by their world that they lose sense and awareness of how they appear to other people. They're so earnest about it. But that's true of so many things.
I don't work with high-concept things that start with a premise, "Wouldn't it be funny if there was this spy who met a ..." For me, it could be, "What about people who sell shoes? That must be a bizarre world ... when they meet at conventions and talk about shoes."
On being banned (as a hereditary peer) from the House of Lords: There's no question that the old system was unfair. I mean, why should you be born to this? But now it's all just sheer cronyism. The Prime Minister can put in whoever he wants and bus them in to vote. The Upper House should be an elected body, it's that simple.
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