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  • The Fortune

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Christopher Guest Biography

  • Profession: Actor, Director, Screenwriter, Songwriter
  • Born: Feb 5, 1948
  • Died: Jan 1, 0001
  • Birth Name: Christopher Haden-Guest

An alumnus of New York City's High School of Music and Arts and Bard College, actor/writer/director Christopher Guest made his initial Broadway appearance in the 1970 revival of Room Service; two years later, he co-starred in Moonchildren. Guest's early acting accomplishments have tended to become obscured in the light of his extensive work for the National Lampoon folks: he wrote several articles for the Lampoon magazine, and was a writer/performer for the organization's radio programs, record albums, and stage reviews. His extensive comic talents went largely untapped in such "mainstream" acting assignments as the made-for-TV [[Feature~V6039~Blind Ambition~blindambition]] (1982), in which he portrayed [[Performer~P52812~Nixon~richardmnixon]] intimate Jeb Stuart Magruder, and the theatrical feature [[Feature~V29942~The Long Riders~thelongriders]] (1982), in which he was co-starred with his younger brother [[Performer~P52529~Nicholas~nicholas]].

In 1982, Guest played divorced suburbanite Bucky Frische in [[Feature~V127455~Million Dollar Infield~milliondollarinfield]] (1982), a made-for-TV movie produced and co-written by [[Performer~P107886~Rob Reiner~robreiner]]. His association with [[Performer~P107886~Reiner~robreiner]] extended into appearances in the latter's big-screen directorial efforts: In [[Feature~V49553~This is Spinal Tap~thisisspinaltap]] (1983), Guest not only penned the script but also played heavy metal rocker Nigel Tufnel; and in [[Feature~V39218~The Princess Bride~theprincessbride]] (1986), cast as the evil Count Rubin, he offered a sly impression of British character actor [[Performer~P16850~Henry Daniell~henrydaniell]]. Guest has since parlayed his "[[Feature~V49553~Spinal Tap~thisisspinaltap]]" association into something of a second career, touring as Nigel Tufnel with fellow "[[Feature~V49553~Tap~thisisspinaltap]]" members David St. Hubbins ([[Performer~P102180~Michael McKean~michaelmckean]]) and Derek Smalls ([[Performer~P111073~Harry Shearer~harryshearer]]) and composing many of the group's "hits." On TV, Guest was a regular during the 1984-1985 season of [[Feature~V108912~Saturday Night Live~saturdaynight]] and shared a scriptwriting Emmy for a 1976 [[Performer~P114336~Lily Tomlin~lilytomlin]] special. Making his directorial debut with the Tinseltown satire [[Feature~V5452~The Big Picture~thebigpicture]] (1989), Guest has gone on to helm the TV-movie remake of [[Feature~V132651~Attack of the 50 Foot Woman~attackofthe50ftwoman]] (1993), the "Johnny Appleseed" segment of Shelley Duvall's cable-TV anthology [[Feature~V322364~American Tall Tales and Legends~shelleyduvallstalltalesandlegends[tvseries]]], and most of the episodes of [[Performer~P107886~Rob Reiner~robreiner]]'s 1992 TV sitcom Morton and Hayes.

After once again appearing as Nigel Tufnel in [[Feature~V41073~The Return of Spinal Tap~thereturnofspinaltap]] (1992), the latter '90s found Guest expanding on his successes in the world of showbiz mockery by taking the directors chair with a few irreverent faux documentaries of his own. Re-teaming with fellow bandmates [[Performer~P102180~McKean~michaelmckean]] and [[Performer~P111073~Shearer~harryshearer]] for the musical numbers in [[Feature~V154512~Waiting for Guffman~waitingforguffman]] (1996), the critically praised comedy proved that Guest's eye for satire was indeed as sharp as his pen. Following with some vocal work in [[Feature~V163033~Small Soldiers~smallsoldiers]] (1998), Guest returned to the director's chair for what would be comedian [[Performer~P22696~Chris Farley~chrisfarley]]'s last film, [[Feature~V162432~Almost Heroes~almostheroes]] (1998). Both of these projects proved to be brief diversions, though, and, as old habits die hard, Guest couldn't resist his urges for parody for long.

Though not related (in a traditional sense) to show business, [[Feature~V209859~Best in Show~bestinshow]] targeted a subject that some may say was screaming for parody, the world of Championship Dog shows. His skills as a director more focused and refined than ever, Guest lead a talented cast of the usual suspects in creating yet another hilarious and scathing take on a what many considered to be well-deserving subject. After earning a Golden Globe nomination for "Best Comedy" at that year's ceremony, the film went on to live a healthy life on DVD and cable television. Guest's next film set its sights on a target that many may agree was begging for the treatment even more so than that of his last subject, and though A Mighty Wind's spot on folk song parodies would prove almost so effective as to be considered the real deal, the film itself differed from [[Feature~V209859~Best in Show~bestinshow]] in that it sharply divided its supporters and detractors as few of his films had.

Guest worked as an actor, screenwriter, songwriter, and director for The Mighty Wind (2003), an award-winning mockuementary chronicling the ups and downs of a career in folk music, and again with For Your Consideration (2006). The actor would co-star with Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins in Mr. Henderson Presents (2005), which followed a wealthy eccentric determined to transform a dingy London theater into a thriving hotspot for entertainment, and take on roles in 2009's The Invention of Lying and Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.

Guest is married to actress [[Performer~P16288~Jamie Lee Curtis~jamieleecurtis]]. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi