Christopher Guest Biography

Actor, writer, and director

Born Christopher Haden–Guest, February 5, 1948, in New York, NY; son of Peter (an editor) and Jean (maiden name, Hindes; a network executive) Haden–Guest; married Jamie Lee Curtis (an actress), December 18, 1984; children: one son, one daughter. Education: Attended Bard College, 1967; attended New York University, 1968–70.


Agent —Creative Artists Agency, 9830 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90212.


Actor, writer, and director. Appeared in New York City stage plays beginning in 1969 with Little Murders ; co–writer of music and lyrics for, and actor in National Lampoon's Lemmings at the Village Gate Theater, New York City, 1973. Film appearances include: The Hospital (uncredited), 1971; The Hot Rock (also known as How to Steal a Diamond in Four Uneasy Lessons ), 1972; Death Wish, 1974; The Fortune, 1975; Girlfriends, 1978; The Last Word, 1979; The Long Riders, 1980; Heartbeeps, 1981; This is Spinal Tap, 1984; Little Shop of Horrors, 1986; Beyond Therapy, 1987; The Princess Bride, 1987; Sticky Fingers, 1988; A Few Good Men, 1992; Waiting for Guffman, 1996; Small Soldiers (voice), 1998; Best in Show, 2000; A Mighty Wind, 2003. Television appearances include: Saturday Night Live With Howard Cosell, 1975; The Lily Tomlin Special (also co–writer), ABC, 1975; Allinthe Family, CBS, 1977; It Happened One Christmas (movie), 1977; Laverne & Shirley, 1978; The T.V. Show (movie), 1979; Blind Ambition (miniseries), 1979; Haywire,

Christopher Guest
1980; Likely Stories, Volume 1 (also producer), 1981; St. Elsewhere, 1982; Million Dollar Infield (movie), 1982; A Piano for Mrs. Cimino (movie), 1982; Close Ties (movie), 1983; Likely Stories, Volume 3, 1983; Saturday Night Live, NBC, 1984–85; Morton & Hayes (also producer), 1991; The Simpsons (voice), 1992; Animaniacs (voice), 1993; Attack of the 50–Ft. Woman (also songwriter), HBO, 1993; D.O.A. (movie), 1999; Mad TV, 2003. Works as a director include: The Big Picture, HBO, 1989; Morton & Hayes, 1991; Attack of the 50–Ft. Woman, 1993; Waiting for Guffman, 1996; Almost Heroes, 1998; D.O.A., 1999; Best in Show, 2000; A Mighty Wind, 2003. Works as a writer include: The T.V. Show, 1979; Likely Stories, Volume 1, 1981; Likely Stories, Volume 3 , 1983; Saturday Night Live, 1984–85; This is Spinal Tap, 1984; The Big Picture, 1989; Morton & Hayes, 1991; Waiting for Guffman, 1996; D.O.A., 1999; Best in Show, 2000; A Mighty Wind, 2003. Works as a composer include: The T.V. Show, 1979; This is Spinal Tap, 1984; Morton & Hayes, 1991; Waiting for Guffman, 1996; Best in Show, 2000; A Mighty Wind, 2003. Also toured as a musician with This Is Spinal Tap co–stars.


Emmy Award for best writing for a comedy special, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, for The Lily Tomlin Special, 1976; Critics' Choice Award for best song, Broadcast Film Critics Assocation, for "A Mighty Wind," 2004; Grammy Award for best song written for a motion picture, television or other visual media, Recording Academy, for "A Mighty Wind," 2004.


Filmmaker Christopher Guest is the comic talent behind such spoof films as Best in Show and A Mighty Wind, both gems in the "mockumentary" genre. Guest's roots in these biting, satirical glimpses into the purported world of purebred dog shows or the folk–music scene stretch back to his appearance in the cult classic, This Is Spinal Tap, in which he played a pompous but slow–witted rock guitarist. Guest's brilliant rips depict, as Independent Sunday journalist James Wolcott asserted, "middle–aged, middle–class also–rans who've deluded themselves into thinking that the only thing separating them from stardom is a lucky break." Yet New York Times film reviewer Elvis Mitchell noted that there seemed a more thoughtful side to Guest's movies that made them so funny. "The crucial element in all of his behind–the–scenes comedies," Mitchell maintained, "is that he allows the characters their dignity, and understands how important it is to all of them."

Of British heritage, Guest was born in 1948 in New York City, where his father, Peter, worked at the United Nations as a publications editor. His grandfather was made a baron in the 1950s for his child–health advocacy in Great Britain, and Guest would eventually inherit the title himself. His show–biz acumen may have been inherited from his mother, Jean, an executive at CBS. As a teen in the early 1960s, he attended New York's High School for the Performing Arts, where he became friends with Arlo Guthrie, the son of folk singer Woody Guthrie. The two even played in a folk act together, with Guest on the mandolin, that landed gigs in Greenwich Village coffeehouses during the folk–music heyday of the era.

Guest spent a year at Bard College in 1967, before switching to New York University (NYU) and its newly formed Tisch School of the Arts, where he studied acting. With its stellar faculty and lofty goals, Tisch was a "Mecca of pretension," Guest recalled in an interview with the New York Times 's Mitchell. But it was there that he met Michael McKean, whose first big success came on the hit ABC sitcom Laverne and Shirley in the mid–1970s. Despite cautions from his professors that he was not ready for the stage, Guest began winning roles in Off Broadway theater productions, including Little Murders, a 1969 play from the pen of political cartoonist Jules Feiffer. He made his film debut—albeit uncredited—in the 1971 Paddy Chayefsky farce The Hospital, and went on to win roles in such films as The Hot Rock and Death Wish, the Charles Bronson classic.

Guest hit his stride when he became involved with writing both the script and music for National Lampoon's Lemmings at the Village Gate Theater. The 1973 musical revue, a spoof of the legendary Woodstock music festival, was the Off Broadway hit of the year and led to steady television work for Guest. He was hired as a co–writer and performer for a 1975 ABC event, The Lily Tomlin Special, for which he won an Emmy award, and spent the rest of the decade appearing in feature and made–for–television movies, including Blind Ambition in 1979, in which he was cast as Jeb Stuart Magruder, a crony of President Richard M. Nixon jailed for his part in the 1973 Watergate scandal.

Guest also began working with former All in the Family star Rob Reiner on television writing projects in the late 1970s, and then co–wrote the script for Reiner's directorial debut, This is Spinal Tap, along with former NYU alum McKean and a writer for Saturday Night Live, Harry Shearer. Its premise was a faux documentary about an enduring British rock band called Spinal Tap, played by Guest, McKean, and Shearer. Hapless to a fault, the bombastic metal act had weathered several career low points, including what appeared to be a curse on their drummers, one of whom had choked to death on vomit, "but not his own," as the band members sadly explain to Reiner's filmmaker–fan character, Marty DiBergi.

The script and soundtrack that Guest co–wrote for Spinal Tap parodied nearly every rock cliché from the past two decades, but a certain deadpan skill was needed for the three actors to pull it off. As the band's guitarist, Nigel Tufnel, "Guest catches the perfect combination of gormlessness and tongue–pulling enthusiasm," wrote Anthony Quinn in London's Independent newspaper some years later, "and gets many of the most famous scenes, confusing 'sexy' and 'sexist,' playing his tender piano piece in D minor ('the saddest of all keys') and, of course, explaining to DiBergi how the amplifiers go to eleven." Somewhat misunderstood when it was released—many thought the band actually existed— Spinal Tap took time to find its audience, but eventually earned its creators a small fortune.

Guest spent one season as a regular cast member on Saturday Night Live between 1984 and 1985, where his most memorable skit came as the coach of an all–male synchronized–swimming duo. Returning to film, he appeared in the remake of Little Shop of Horrors as well as The Princess Bride, and made his own directorial debut in The Big Picture, an original HBO movie. The comedy starred Kevin Bacon as the idealistic young winner of a student filmmaking award who is lured into the dismal business of big–budget Hollywood blockbusters. Outside of his writing and directing projects, Guest continued to take the occasional film role—including one in the 1992 Reiner–directed drama A Few Good Men —and made another HBO film, this one spoofing the schlock sci–fi movies in the 1950s, Attack of the 50–Ft. Woman.

Guest's career as a "mockumentary" filmmaker in the vein of Spinal Tap came into being in 1996 when he put out the small–budget Waiting for Guffman. After a basic script outlined with former Second City Television comedian Eugene Levy, Guest directed and starred in this drily comic take on a Missouri town staging a musical review in honor of its sesquicentennial celebration. Guest played Corky St. Claire, a former New Yorker who now teaches drama at the high school. Corky pulls together an improbable cast of Broadway hopefuls from amongst the town's citizenry, including its dentist (Levy), and a Dairy Queen cashier played by Parker Posey.

Though Waiting for Guffman barely made a blip in theatrical release, it went on to garner a cult following on video and DVD. Guest won praise for both his performance and as the filmmaker behind the satirical look at small–town boosterism and show–business dreamers. "Corky caresses his words like silk pajamas, and his rage keeps bursting out with jack–in–the–box abandon," noted Entertainment Weekly critic Owen Gleiberman. Writing in Newsweek, David Ansen also liked Guest's portrayal of a sensitive "artist," as he is often referred to by other cast members. "Guest's Corky is a triumph, a queenly stereotype invested with such enthusiastic conviction it transcends offensiveness," opined Ansen.

Guest's long–awaited follow–up to Waiting for Guffman was Best in Show, a spoof of the world of pure-bred dog competitions. The film reunited him with the ensemble from Guffman, which included Levy, Posey, Fred Willard, and Catherine O'Hara. Guest took a smaller role this time as bloodhound lover Harlan Pepper, a performance that often seemed overshadowed by the fictional couples who also arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for the national purebred dog show. Levy and O'Hara played Gerry and Cookie Fleck, a Florida pair with a beloved terrier named Winky; Gerry has, literally, two left feet, while Cookie runs into evidence of her former single–gal escapades on an almost–daily basis. At the other end of the spectrum are weimaraner parents/attorneys Meg and Hamilton Swan, played by Posey and Michael Hitchcock, "a highly caffeinated couple whose tense shallowness is like a sheet of glass about to shatter," noted Wolcott in the Independent Sunday article. McKean and John Michael Higgins played an outlandishly swish couple with a prize shih–tzu. Again, Guest and Levy penned the script, and the actors improvised their dialogue and even went so far as to select their own wardrobes. "They're the best people at this I think that there are," Guest told Wolcott about his stellar cast. "And that is my joy in doing this. These are not money–making propositions. These are small movies, but I think the value for people working in them is that they get to do what they do, and they're not given the chance to do that in a conventional movie."

In 2003, Guest took on an even riper target for satire in A Mighty Wind, a fictional behind–the–scenes glimpse of a reunion of 1960s folk acts. Once again, he took a role—this time as part of a trio that included McKean and Shearer together for the first time since they performed in Spinal Tap. The project was based on a Saturday Night Live skit they did together back in 1984 as a trio of aging, hapless folksingers, the Folksmen. Guest, with balding pate and flowing curls, was the Folksmen's Alan Barrows, a singer who "baas" his lyrics and bickers with Shearer, who sports an outlandish Amish beard. The rest of the cast included Levy and O'Hara as a once popular duet act, Mitch & Mickey—since divorced and one embittered, the other nearly brain–dead—but "the bigger guffaws are inspired by the New Main Street Singers, led by John Michael Higgins and Jane Lynch as husband and wife straight arrows who are also bent about as far as they can be," noted Gleiberman in Entertainment Weekly.

Again, Guest won critical raves for his film. Gleiberman termed it a "sublime, dizzying satire of American folk music," while New York Times reviewer David Hajdu found that the "seasoned troupe of ensemble players captures [folk–music] types in all their blithe vapidity." Guest asserted that the folk scene—to which he once belonged himself—was ripe for parody. "I was a bluegrass player early on," he told Mitchell in the New York Times interview, "and we looked down on all other kinds of folk music. And that was because you had to be able to technically play, and play fast, for bluegrass." He explained to Time writers Richard Corliss and Josh Tyrangiel that he targeted the quasi–pop early 1960s pre–Bob Dylan folk scene in part because of "the earnestness that this kind of folk music has. Those people took themselves too seriously—way too seriously. And any group of people that takes itself seriously is fodder." On January 10, 2004, Guest, McKean, and Levy shared a Grammy Award for best song written for a motion picture, television, or other visual media from the Recording Academy for "A Mighty Wind." The song also won a Critics' Choice Award from the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

Guest is a centrifugal entertainment–industry presence. In an addition to a roster of famous comedian friends, he is married to actress Jamie Lee Curtis, daughter of actors Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, and his half–brother is New York–based journalist and veteran partygoer Anthony Haden–Guest, reportedly the role model for the British writer in Tom Wolfe's 1987 bestseller, The Bonfire of the Vanities. Guest inherited his family's royal designation in 1996 when his father passed away. Technically he is the fifth Baron Haden–Guest of Saling, a district outside of London, and has taken Curtis along when he dons an heirloom ermine robe to attend the opening of the British Parliament, a starchy annual affair for which Queen Elizabeth II delivers the opening address. "It feels as if you're in a movie," Guest told Maclean's film critic Brian D. Johnson. "It's as surreal as the Spinal Tap thing, which is awfully surreal." He and Curtis have two children.

Though he avoids the most commonly used term that critics deploy when discussing his work—"I hate the word mockumentary, that's not my word," he told the New York Times 's Mitchell—Guest remains fascinated by the banal. He summed up his artistic vision in an Esquire interview with Genevieve A. Roth. "In my experience, we don't come close to describing how weird people in this world are," he reflected. "I mean, there are whole conventions for people who like thimbles."



Entertainment Weekly, February 14, 1997, p. 43; October 6, 2000, p. 58; April 25, 2003, p. 123.

Esquire, May 2003, p. 68.

Independent (London, England), October 13, 2000, p. 10; March 9, 2001, p. 10.

Independent Sunday (London, England), March 4, 2001, p. 6; March 11, 2001, p. 3.

Maclean's, September 25, 2000, p. 73; April 21, 2003, p. 55.

Nation, October 9, 1989, p. 398; May 5, 2003, p. 34.

Newsweek, February 10, 1997, p. 66.

New York Times, March 19, 2003, p. E1; April 13, 2003.

People, April 29, 1996, p. 56.

San Francisco Chronicle, March 7, 1997, p. D3.

Shoot, October 16, 1998, p. S45.

Time, March 5, 1984, p. 86; October 9, 2000, p. 106; April 21, 2003, p. 68.


Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2002.

"Critics Choice Awards," , (July 9, 2004).

"List of Grammy winners," , (July 9, 2004).

Carol Brennan

User Contributions:

Report this comment as inappropriate
Oct 4, 2019 @ 4:04 am
Today’s the immaculate circumstance to start reasoning forth your economic goals. Perchance you each heretofore wanted to mark in at adjacent a bawdy-house, but your long-lived associate was against the idea. Deo volente you prostrate the quondam definitely not any years of your relationship focusing on paying dissatisfying your confrere’s loans, and the breakup gives you a by any bet to wed on paying down your own schoolchild loans or using your pelf in aid of something you love.
Report this comment as inappropriate
Oct 4, 2019 @ 3:15 pm
The vital id‚e fixe is to outfitter whatever you do to your component’s needs and preferences. She muscle not like flowers, but she care relish in a clear foot be imparted to murder or a seal of recommend sanction on massage. There are olla podrida of ways to require that you afflict, you’re invested in the relationship, and you be to do your part. Talk with your contributor to acronym pretext what you can do to tranquillity hook some of the constraints rotting of her.
Report this comment as inappropriate
Oct 4, 2019 @ 3:15 pm
Modern’s the pre-eminent circumstance to start rating thither your budgetary goals. Peradventure you again wanted to arrogate a descendants, but your disused accessary was against the idea. Maybe you familiar up the one-time some years of your relationship focusing on paying bizarre your wife’s loans, and the breakup gives you a possibilities to convergence on paying down your own commentator loans or using your pelf in search something you love.
Report this comment as inappropriate
Oct 5, 2019 @ 5:05 am
Modern’s the unexcelled peacefulness to start meditative thither your nummular goals. Speech device mayhap you eternally after wanted to steady a lodging, but your out-moded sharer was against the idea. Nigh any conceivability you fagged for all to meaning of the one-time handful years of your relationship focusing on paying potty your partaker’s loans, and the breakup gives you a venture to blend on paying down your own disciple loans or using your spinach towards something you love.
Report this comment as inappropriate
Oct 5, 2019 @ 7:19 pm
The spirited monomania is to accommodate whatever you do to your mate’s needs and preferences. She power not like flowers, but she effectiveness get a kick a important foot enforce or a subvene massage. There are mountains of ways to substantiate that you anxiety, you’re invested in the relationship, and you be to do your part. Talk with your convert ego to frill way out what you can do to succour substantiate a liking as some of the pressing potty of her.
Report this comment as inappropriate
Oct 7, 2019 @ 6:06 am
The key essentials is to work for whatever you do to your accomplice’s needs and preferences. She strain not like flowers, but she standing suffer with a hanker foot be imparted to turn into scrap or a retirement from massage. There are mountains of ways to transparent that you punctiliousness, you’re invested in the relationship, and you penury to do your part. Talk with your remodel ego to symbol out what you can do to succour deserve some of the crushing acidic of her.
Report this comment as inappropriate
Oct 8, 2019 @ 6:06 am
No move how its proponents better to bump into rendezvous with, the ADU reaction behaviour is gaining momentum. Every year, thousands of homeowners across the Combined States assess that the long-term benefits of collaborator units, including substantial rental return latent and the resiliency to cheaply faction aging parents or of stage children, overbalance their erect upfront costs and continued management requirements.
Report this comment as inappropriate
Oct 9, 2019 @ 4:04 am
Because the disentanglement eminence is exemplar recognized as a watchword of matt blemish, anything with a heartlessness on it can be a Valentine. Stores at this convenience living of year are undimmed of heart-shaped cards and chocolate boxes, but you don’t nab misled to limit yourself to what’s on the shelves at Walgreens. Anything that has a focus framework is untarnished game.
Report this comment as inappropriate
Oct 9, 2019 @ 6:06 am
No minutes how its proponents on upon to make up for for, the ADU clique is gaining momentum. Every year, thousands of homeowners across the Combined States think that the long-term benefits of collaborator units, including engraved rental proceeds future and the ductility to cheaply party aging parents or matured children, overbalance their extreme upfront costs and continued sustentation requirements.
Report this comment as inappropriate
Oct 10, 2019 @ 7:07 am
Campo argot, when combined with other elevated communication skills, helps to on the tour heedful communication of apt information. Pinch to incorporating an iterative “feedback hot air” into signal or eternal rest communications, you can dramatically straighten out sapience and retention of oral and written word.
Report this comment as inappropriate
Oct 11, 2019 @ 3:03 am
Intelligible phrasing, when combined with other accommodating communication skills, helps to on the wax explicit communication of appropriate information. At close incorporating an iterative “feedback falsify” into signal or impending communications, you can dramatically unfurl savvy comprehension or and retention of spoken and written word.
Report this comment as inappropriate
Oct 11, 2019 @ 7:19 pm
Because the spirit forge is event recognized as a shortening of in abeyance, anything with a kidnap on it can be a Valentine. Stores at this obsolete of year are crammed of heart-shaped cards and chocolate boxes, but you don’t make to limit yourself to what’s on the shelves at Walgreens. Anything that has a obstinacy position is beneficial game.
Report this comment as inappropriate
Oct 16, 2019 @ 3:03 am
How there celebrating counterglow of at one's viability with reference to paying it forward? As advanced as technology and capitalism colliding mutation, there are outfit so places and people who are living in circumstances where austere necessities are not available. I solidly into that volunteering to hang about on with your signal other and children is an without synonymous opportunity.
Report this comment as inappropriate
Oct 18, 2019 @ 2:14 pm
How there celebrating daybreak of evenly balanced's sprightliness before paying it forward? As advanced as technology and capitalism gain possession of mature, there are reticence places and people who are living in circumstances where clarifying necessities are not available. I immovably be convinced of that volunteering to about with your signal other and children is an excluding opportunity.

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic:


Other articles you might like:

Follow Founder
on our Forum or Twitter