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Christopher Guest has written, directed and starred in a number of classic comedies, including This is Spinal Tap (1984) and Waiting for Guffman (1996).
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Though happy with the film's outcome, the director went back to his Spinal Tap roots and helped create a sub-genre of films now known as "mockumentaries."
In 1996, Guest directed, co-wrote and starred in the oddball hit Waiting for Guffman,
a hilarious satire that follows a tightly wound choreographer (played by Guest) in his attempts to direct small-town talent in the performance of a lifetime. A high level of improvisation is the underpinning of Waiting for Guffman; the writing, filming and performances all happen organically. Taking jazz music as an analogy for his style of film-making, Guest once said, "You know the basic melody and the key changes but it's how you get from one change to the next that matters, and you don't know in advance how you're going to do it. I'm completely blank before the camera rolls. I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to say."
Most members of the original Waiting for Guffman cast soon formed a sort of repertory group that would ultimately appear in Guest's next two films, Best in Show and A Mighty Wind. The group included talent like Catherine O'Hara, Michael McKean, Parker Posey, Jane Lynch, Ed Begley, Jr. and John Michael Higgins, among others. Keeping to a collective ethos, each member of the troupe received the same payment and portion of the profits from each of the films.
When Guest's father died in 1996, the actor became the 5th Baron Haden-Guest, of Saling, in the County Essex. For three years, until hereditary peers were barred in 1999, Guest regularly attended the House of Lords.
Though the actor largely avoids talking about his equally famous wife, Guest married the actress Jamie Lee Curtis in 1984. In the past, she has more candidly told the story of how, after seeing his picture in Rolling Stone magazine, she contacted his agent and boldly passed along her number. Though it took a chance meeting months later in a restaurant for Guest to finally make that call, the two now enjoy one of the longest-lived high-profile marriages in Hollywood.
The couple eventually settled in Los Angeles and adopted two children, Anne Haden-Guest (born in 1986) and Thomas Haden-Guest (1996). Despite the Hollywood fame and the English lordship, Guest maintains his life is surprisingly pedestrian, once remarking: "I spend a lot of time dropping my children off and picking them up—it's a very regular life."
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