|The Right Honourable
The Lord Haden-Guest
At the Vancouver Film School, 2008
|Member of the House of Lords
April 8, 1996 - November 11, 1999
|House of Lords Act 1999|
February 5, 1948
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Jamie Lee Curtis (m. 1984)|
|Relations||Nicholas Guest (brother)
Anthony Haden-Guest (half-brother)
Tony Curtis (father-in-law)
Janet Leigh (mother-in-law)
Kelly Curtis (sister-in-law)
|Residence||Santa Monica, California, U.S.|
|Education||The High School of Music & Art|
|Alma mater||New York University|
|Occupation||Actor, comedian, director, screenwriter, musician|
Christopher Haden-Guest, 5th Baron Haden-Guest (born February 5, 1948), simply known as Christopher Guest, is an American screenwriter, composer, musician, director, actor, and comedian who holds dual British and American citizenship. Guest is most widely known in Hollywood for having written, directed and starred in his series of comedy films shot in mock-documentary (mockumentary) style. Many scenes and character backgrounds in Guest's films are written and directed, although actors have no rehearsal time and the ensemble improvise scenes while filming them. The series of films began with This Is Spinal Tap (directed by Rob Reiner), and continued with Waiting for Guffman, Best In Show, A Mighty Wind, For Your Consideration, and Mascots.
He holds a hereditary British peerage as the 5th Baron Haden-Guest, and has publicly expressed a desire to see the House of Lords reformed as a democratically elected chamber. Though he was initially active in the Lords, his career there was cut short by the House of Lords Act 1999, which removed the right of most hereditary peers to a seat in the parliament. When using his title, he is normally styled as Lord Haden-Guest. Guest is married to the actress and author Jamie Lee Curtis.
Guest was born in New York City, the son of Peter Haden-Guest, a British United Nations diplomat who later became the 4th Baron Haden-Guest, and his second wife, Jean Pauline Hindes, an American former vice president of casting at CBS. Guest's paternal grandfather, Leslie, Baron Haden-Guest, was a Labour Party politician, who was a convert to Judaism. Guest's paternal grandmother, a descendant of the Dutch Jewish Goldsmid family, was the daughter of Colonel Albert Goldsmid, a British officer who founded the Jewish Lads' and Girls' Brigade and the Maccabaeans. Guest's maternal grandparents were Jewish emigrants from Russia. Both of Guest's parents had become atheists, and Guest had no religious upbringing. Nearly a decade before he was born, his uncle, David Guest, a lecturer and Communist Party member, was killed in the Spanish Civil War, fighting in the International Brigades.
Guest spent parts of his childhood in his father's native United Kingdom. He attended The High School of Music & Art (New York City), studying classical music (clarinet) at the Stockbridge School in Interlaken, Massachusetts. He later took up the mandolin, became interested in country music, and played guitar with Arlo Guthrie, a fellow student at Stockbridge School. Guest later began performing with bluegrass bands until he took up rock and roll.
Guest began his career in theatre during the early 1970s with one of his earliest professional performances being the role of Norman in Michael Weller's Moonchildren for the play's American premiere at the Arena Stage in Washington D.C. in November 1971. Guest continued with the production when it moved to Broadway in 1972. The following year he began making contributions to The National Lampoon Radio Hour for a variety of National Lampoon audio recordings. He both performed comic characters (Flash Bazbo--Space Explorer, Mr. Rogers, music critic Roger de Swans, and sleazy record company rep Ron Fields) and wrote, arranged and performed numerous musical parodies (of Bob Dylan, James Taylor and others). He was featured alongside Chevy Chase and John Belushi in the Off-Broadway revue National Lampoon's Lemmings. Two of his earliest film roles were small parts as uniformed police officers in the 1972 film The Hot Rock and 1974's Death Wish.
Guest played a small role in the 1977 All In the Family episode "Mike and Gloria Meet", where in a flashback sequence Mike and Gloria recall their first blind date, set up by Michael's college buddy Jim (Guest), who dated Gloria's girlfriend Debbie (Priscilla Lopez).
Guest's biggest role of the first two decades of his career is likely that of Nigel Tufnel in the 1984 Rob Reiner film This Is Spinal Tap. Guest made his first appearance as Tufnel on the 1978 sketch comedy program The TV Show.
Along with Martin Short, Billy Crystal and Harry Shearer, Guest was hired as a one-year only cast member for the 1984-85 season on NBC's Saturday Night Live. Recurring characters on SNL played by Guest include Frankie, of Willie and Frankie (coworkers who recount in detail physically painful situations in which they have found themselves, remarking laconically "I hate when that happens"); Herb Minkman, a shady novelty toymaker with a brother named Al (played by Crystal); Rajeev Vindaloo, an eccentric foreign man in the same vein as Andy Kaufman's Latka character from Taxi; and Señor Cosa, a Spanish ventriloquist often seen on the recurring spoof of The Joe Franklin Show. He also experimented behind the camera with pre-filmed sketches, notably directing a documentary-style short starring Shearer and Short as synchronized swimmers. In another short film from SNL, Guest and Crystal appear as retired Negro league baseball players, "The Rooster and the King".
He appeared as Count Rugen in The Princess Bride. He had a cameo role as the first customer, a pedestrian, in the 1986 musical remake of The Little Shop of Horrors, that also featured Steve Martin. As a co-writer and director, Guest made the Hollywood satire The Big Picture.
The experience of having made Spinal Tap would directly inform the second phase of his career. Starting in 1996, Guest began writing, directing and acting in his own series of substantially improvised films. Many of them would come to be definitive examples of what came to be known as "mockumentaries"-- not a term Guest appreciates in describing his unusual approach to exploring the passions that make the characters in his films so interesting. He maintains that his intention is not to mock anyone, but to explore insular, perhaps obscure communities through his method of filmmaking.
His frequent writing partner is Eugene Levy. Together, Levy, Guest and a small band of other actors have formed a loose repertory group, which appear across several films. These include Catherine O'Hara, Michael McKean, Parker Posey, Bob Balaban, Jane Lynch, John Michael Higgins, Harry Shearer, Jennifer Coolidge, Ed Begley, Jr. and Fred Willard. Guest and Levy write backgrounds for each of the characters and notecards for each specific scene, outlining the plot, and then leave it up to the actors to improvise the dialogue, which is supposed to result in a much more natural conversation than scripted dialogue would. Typically, everyone who appears in these movies receives the same fee and the same portion of profits.
Guest had a guest voice-over role in the animated comedy series SpongeBob SquarePants as SpongeBob's cousin, Stanley.
He is also currently a member of the musical group The Beyman Bros, which he formed with childhood friend David Nichtern and Spinal Tap's current keyboardist C. J. Vanston. Their debut album Memories of Summer as a Child was released on January 20, 2009.
He was most recently the writer and producer of the HBO series, Family Tree, a lighthearted story in the style he made famous in Spinal Tap, in which the main character, Tom Chadwick, inherits a box of curios from his great aunt, spurring interest in his ancestry.
Guest became the 5th Baron Haden-Guest, of Great Saling, in the County of Essex, when his father died in 1996. He succeeded upon the ineligibility of his older half-brother, Anthony Haden-Guest, who was born prior to the marriage of his parents. According to an article in The Guardian, Guest attended the House of Lords regularly until the House of Lords Act 1999 barred most hereditary peers from their seats. In the article Guest remarked:
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.
|Ancestors of Christopher Guest|
Guest married actress Jamie Lee Curtis in 1984 at the home of their mutual friend, Rob Reiner. They have two adopted children: Anne (born 1986) and Thomas (born 1996). Because Guest's children are adopted, they cannot inherit the family barony under the terms of the letters patent that created it, though a 2004 Royal Warrant addressing the style of a peer's adopted children states that they can use courtesy titles. The current heir presumptive to the barony is Guest's younger brother, actor Nicholas Guest.
As reported by Louis B. Hobson, "On film, Guest is a hilariously droll comedian. In person he is serious and almost dour." He quotes Guest as saying "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."
|1972||The Hot Rock||Yes||No||No||No||Policeman|
|1973||National Lampoon Lemmings||Yes||Yes||No||No||Musical arranger|
|1974||Death Wish||Yes||No||No||No||Patrolman Jackson Reilly|
|1975||The Fortune||Yes||No||No||No||Boy Lover|
|Tarzoon: Shame of the Jungle||Yes||No||No||No||Chief M'Bulu / Short /
|1979||The Last Word||Yes||No||No||No||Roger|
|1980||The Long Riders||Yes||No||No||No||Charley Ford|
|The Missing Link||Yes||No||No||No||No Lobes||English version; voice|
|1984||This Is Spinal Tap||Yes||Yes||No||No||Nigel Tufnel||Composer, musician|
|1985||Martin Short: Concert for the
|1986||Little Shop of Horrors||Yes||No||No||No||The First Customer|
|The Princess Bride||Yes||No||No||No||Count Tyrone Rugen,
the six-fingered man
|1989||The Big Picture||No||Yes||Yes||No|
|1992||A Few Good Men||Yes||No||No||No||Dr. Stone|
|1994||The Return of Spinal Tap||Yes||No||No||No||Nigel Tufnel|
|1997||Waiting for Guffman||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Corky St. Clair|
|2000||Best in Show||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Harlan Pepper|
|2003||A Mighty Wind||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Alan Barrows|
|2005||Mrs Henderson Presents||Yes||No||No||No||Lord Cromer|
|2006||For Your Consideration||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Jay Berman|
|2009||Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian||Yes||No||No||No||Ivan the Terrible|
|The Invention of Lying||Yes||No||No||No||Nathan Goldfrappe|
|2012||Her Master's Voice||No||No||No||Yes|
|2016||Mascots||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Corky St. Clair||Netflix film|
|1975||Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell||No||Yes||No||No||Variety series|
|The Lily Tomlin Special||No||Yes||No||No||TV special|
|1976||The Billion Dollar Bubble||Yes||No||No||No||Al Green||TV film|
|TVTV Looks at the Oscars||No||Yes||No||No||TV Special|
|TVTV: Super Bowl||No||Yes||No||No||TV Special|
|The TVTV Show||Yes||Yes||No||No||Various||TV Special|
|1977||It Happened One Christmas||Yes||No||No||No||Harry Bailey||TV film|
|The Andros Targets||Yes||No||No||No||Gordon Hamilton||Episode: "A Currency for Murder"|
|All in the Family||Yes||No||No||No||Jim||Episode: "Mike and Gloria Meet"|
|1978||Laverne & Shirley||Yes||No||No||No||Greg Harris||Episode: "Bus Stop"|
|Peeping Times||No||Yes||No||No||Television special|
|1979||Blind Ambition||Yes||No||No||No||Jeb Stuart Magruder||Miniseries|
|The Chevy Chase National Humor Test||Yes||Yes||No||No||Various||Television special|
|1980||Haywire||Yes||No||No||No||The T.V. Director||Television film|
|1982||Million Dollar Infield||Yes||No||No||No||Bucky Frische||Television film|
|A Piano for Mrs. Cimino||Yes||No||No||No||Philip Ryan||Television film|
|St. Elsewhere||Yes||No||No||No||H.J. Cummings||2 episodes|
|1984-85||Saturday Night Live||Yes||Yes||No||No||Various||19 episodes|
|1986||Tall Tales & Legends||No||Yes||No||No||Episode: "Johnny Appleseed"|
|1989||Trying Times||No||No||Yes||No||Episode: "The Sad Professor"|
|Billy Crystal: Midnight Train to
|Yes||No||No||No||The Voice||Stand-up special|
|I, Martin Short, Goes Hollywood||Yes||No||No||No||Antoninus DiMentabella|
|1991||Morton & Hayes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||El Supremo / Crooner /
Dr. Von Astor
composed theme music
|Amnesty International's Big 3-0||Yes||No||No||No||Nigel Tufnel||Television special|
|1992||The Simpsons||Yes||No||No||No||Nigel Tufnel||Episode: "The Otto Show"
|1993||Animaniacs||Yes||No||No||No||Umlatt||Episode: "King Yakko"
|Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman||No||No||Yes||No||Television film; composer|
|1999||Dilbert||Yes||No||No||No||The Dupey||Episode: "The Dupey"
|2003||MADtv||Yes||No||No||No||Nigel Tufnel||Episode: season 8, episode 21|
|2007||SpongeBob SquarePants||Yes||No||No||No||Stanley S. SquarePants||Episode: "Banned in Bikini Bottom /
Stanley S. SquarePants"
|2009||Stonehenge: 'Tis a Magic Place||Yes||No||No||No||Nigel Tufnel||3 episodes|
|2012||84th Academy Awards||Yes||No||Yes||No||Focus Group Member||Directed focus group segment|
|2013||Family Tree||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Dave Chadwick /
|8 episodes; also co-creator
composed credits theme
|Actor||This Is Spinal Tap
|The Big Picture
|Waiting for Guffman
|Best in Show
|A Mighty Wind
|For Your Consideration
|Ed Begley, Jr.|
|John Michael Higgins|
|1976||Primetime Emmy Award||Outstanding Writing in a Comedy-Variety or Music Special Ann Elder
Shared with Earl Pomerantz, Jim Rusk, Lily Tomlin, Rod Warren, George Yanok
|The Lily Tomlin Special||Won|
|1995||International Fantasy Film Award||Best Film||Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman (1993 film)||Nominated|
|1998||Independent Spirit Award||Best Male Lead||Waiting for Guffman||Nominated|
Shared with Eugene Levy
|Lone Star Film & Television Award||Best Director||Won|
|2001||DVD Exclusive Award||Best DVD Audio Commentary||This Is Spinal Tap||Won|
|American Comedy Award||Funniest Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture||Best in Show||Nominated|
|Golden Satellite Award||Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical||Nominated|
|Independent Spirit Award||Best Director||Nominated|
|Writers Guild of America Award||Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
Shared with Eugene Levy
|2003||Seattle Film Critics Award||Best Music
Shared with John Michael Higgins, Eugene Levy, Michael McKean, Catherine O'Hara, Annette O'Toole, Harry Shearer, Jeffrey C. J. Vanston
|A Mighty Wind||Won|
|2004||Grammy Award||Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media
Shared with Eugene Levy, Michael McKean
|A Mighty Wind||Won|