The Lord Haden-Guest
|Member of the House of Lords |
8 April 1996 – 11 November 1999
|Preceded by||The 4th Baron Haden-Guest|
|Succeeded by||Seat abolished under House of Lords Act 1999|
February 5, 1948
New York City, New York, U.S.
Jamie Lee Curtis (m. 1984)
|Relatives||Nicholas Guest (brother) |
Anthony Haden-Guest (half-brother)
New York University
Christopher Haden-Guest, 5th Baron Haden-Guest (born February 5, 1948) is a British-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, and continued with Waiting for Guffman, Best In Show, A Mighty Wind, For Your Consideration, and Mascots.
Guest 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 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 making Spinal Tap directly informed 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 came 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.
Peerage and heirs
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|
|1996||Waiting for Guffman||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Corky St. Clair|
|Small Soldiers||Yes||No||No||No||Slamfist / Scratch-It||Voices|
|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
Recurring cast members
Titles and styles
- February 5, 1948 – May 26, 1987: Mister Christopher Haden-Guest
- May 26, 1987 – April 8, 1996: The Honourable Christopher Haden-Guest
- April 8, 1996 – present: The Right Honourable The Lord Haden-Guest
Awards and nominations
|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|
- Richard Grant (January 10, 2004). "Nowt so queer as folk". The Guardian Weekend.
- Witchel, Alex (November 12, 2006). "The Shape-Shifter". The New York Times. Retrieved November 16, 2006.
- Murray, William Henry (1952). Adam and Cain: Symposium of Old Bible History, Sumerian Empire, Importance of Blood of Race, Juggling Juggernaut of the Leaders of the Jews, the Gothic Civilization of Adam and the Ten Commandments of His Church. Murray.
- Rosen, Steven (November 16, 2006). "Want to spoof Purim and the Oscars? Be our Guest!". The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. 21 (39). Retrieved November 16, 2006.
- Richard Grant (January 10, 2004). "Nowt so queer as folk". The Guardian Weekend.
- Gross, Terry (September 14, 1989). "Christopher Guest Plays with Parody". Fresh Air, WHYY. Philadelphia: NPR. Retrieved August 6, 2010.
- "NYU Graduate Acting Alumni". 2011. Retrieved December 1, 2011.
- Rose, Charlie (May 12, 2003). "A conversation with director Christopher Guest". Charlie Rose LLC. Archived from the original on December 1, 2008. Retrieved August 6, 2010.
- Moon, Tom (February 2, 2009). "Beyman Bros: The Thinking Person's Americana". All Things Considered. NPR. Retrieved August 6, 2010.
- "Taxpayers to Fork Out $2.5 Million for Single Census Ad During Super Bowl". Fox News. February 3, 2010. Retrieved August 6, 2010.
- Shanahan, Mark (October 18, 2011). "Christopher Guest parties for Berklee". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on July 28, 2012. Retrieved March 6, 2012.
- McNary, Dave. "Netflix Acquires Christopher Guest's Mascots Mockumentary". Variety. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- Hobson, Louis B (October 10, 2000). "Guest Shots". Canoe Jam!. Canoe Inc. Retrieved August 29, 2007.
-  "Repertory company"
- "Christopher Guest – Awards". IMDb. Retrieved March 15, 2013.
- "46th Annual GRAMMY Awards". GRAMMY.com. January 15, 2013. Retrieved November 11, 2017.
- Christopher Guest on IMDb
- Christopher Guest at the Internet Broadway Database
- Christopher Guest at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- Christoper Guest bio in The Peerage
- "Nowt so queer as folk". The Guardian (UK). January 10, 2004. Richard Grant. Interview for release of A Mighty Wind.
| "Weekend Update" anchor
|Peerage of the United Kingdom|
| Baron Haden-Guest
Hon. Nicholas Haden-Guest