Christopher Guest is an English-American screenwriter, director, actor, and comedian. He first came into prominence for his writing and performance in the American TV comedy show 'Saturday Night Live'. The show, which was meant to parody contemporary culture and politics, earned immense popularity and won numerous awards over the years, including 50 Emmys. He is also famous for his series of comedy films which were shot in mock-documentary style (mockumentary), some of them being ‘This is a Spinal Tap’, ‘Waiting for Guffman’, and ‘A Mighty Wind’. He has made appearances in films in main roles as well. Guest has also played supporting roles in several films, such as ‘The Long Riders’, ‘A Few Good Men’, and ‘The Invention of Lying’. Throughout his career, he has won many awards for his outstanding work. His work in the American TV special ‘The Lily Tomlin Special’ won him the Primetime Emmy Award. He is known for his unique ability to alter his appearance and voice which helps in making his characters unique. His most recent mockumentary film is ‘Mascots’ which premiered on Netflix.
Childhood & Early Life
Christopher Guest was born on 5th February 1948 in New York City, to Peter Haden-Guest and his wife Jean Pauline Hindes. His father was a British diplomat to the UN while his mother worked for CBS. Guest spent most of his childhood in London, where his father became a member of the House of Lords.
He later attended The High School of Music & Art in New York where he studied classical music. He then went to the Stockbridge School situated in Massachusetts. For some time, he was also involved with music bands. Later, he enrolled at Tisch School of Arts under New York University to study acting. He graduated in 1971.
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Christopher Guest began his career in the 1970s as a stage actor. He played the role of Norman in Michael Weller’s ‘Moonchildren’ in 1971. In 1973, he started contributing to a popular radio comedy show named ‘The National Lampoon Radio Hour.’
He began his film career by making guest appearances in the 1972 comedy film ‘The Hot Rock’, and the 1974 action film ‘Death Wish’. In 1977, he appeared in a small role in an episode of the American comedy series ‘All in the Family’.
In 1984, he appeared in a main role, as well as worked as a writer in the mockumentary comedy film ‘This is Spinal Tap’. The film was a commercial success. Around the same time, he also started appearing on the American late-night live comedy show ‘Saturday Night Live’.
In 1987, he played a role in the romantic adventure film ‘The Princess Bride’. The film was a commercial success and won an Oscar nomination. Two years later, he directed and wrote the film ‘The Big Picture’. The film was a huge commercial success.
Over the years, he appeared in several films and TV shows in minor roles. In 1997, he directed and co-wrote the mockumentary comedy film ‘Waiting for Guffman’. He also starred in one of the main roles. The film was a commercial failure.
His next significant work was the 2006 comedy film ‘For Your Consideration’, in which he was an actor, director and writer. The film was a commercial failure and received average reviews.
In 2009, he appeared in the adventure film ‘Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian’ and the romantic comedy ‘The Invention of Lying’.
In 2013, he created, directed, and co-wrote the TV comedy series ‘Family Tree’. It aired on HBO for only one season.
His latest work is the 2016 mockumentary film ‘Mascots’ which he directed and co-wrote. He also played one of the main roles. The film was met with mixed reviews.
‘This is Spinal Tap’, an American mockumentary comedy film, and one of Christopher Guest’s major works, was released in March 1984. Guest worked in the film as a co-writer and starred in one of the main roles as well. Directed by Rob Reiner, the film also included actors Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, and June Chadwick. The film was met with positive reviews and was regarded as one of the greatest films of the year by the critics. It was also a commercial success.
‘For Your Consideration’, which was released in 2006, is another one of Christopher Guests’ major works. The film was directed and co-written by Guest. It also starred him in one of the main roles, along with actors Bob Balaban, Jennifer Coolidge, John Michael Higgins, Jane Lynch, Jim Piddock and Parker Posey. The film was a commercial failure grossing less than $6 million on a budget of $12 million. It was met with mixed reviews.
Awards & Achievements
Christopher Guest received a ‘Primetime Emmy Award’ for ‘Outstanding Writing in a comedy’ for his contribution to the film ‘The Lily Tomlin Special’ in 1976.
He won the ‘Lone Star Film & Television Award’ for ‘Best Director’ for his film ‘Waiting for Guffman’ in 1998.
For his film ‘This is Spinal Tap’, he received a ‘DVD Exclusive Award’ for ‘Best DVD Audio Commentary’ in 2001.
In 2003, he won the ‘Seattle Film Critics Award’ for ‘Best Music’ for his work in the film ‘A Mighty Wind’ which he shared with John Michael Higgins, Eugene Levy, Michael McKean, Catherine O'Hara, Annette O'Toole, Harry Shearer, and Jeffrey C. J. Vanston.
Christopher Guest married American actress and author Jamie Lee Curtis in 1984. The couple has two adopted children named Anne and Thomas.