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Christopher Guest

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Christopher Haden-Guest, 5th Baron Haden-Guest (born February 5, 1948), better known as Christopher Guest, is an English-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. Scenes and character backgrounds in Guest's films are written, but actors have no rehearsal time and the ensemble improvise scenes while filming them. The series of films began with This Is Spinal Tap (directed by Rob Reiner), and continued with Waiting for Guffman, Best In Show, A Mighty Wind, For Your Consideration, and Mascots.

He 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 the actress and author Jamie Lee Curtis.

Early Years

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 immigrants 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 studied acting at New York University's Graduate Acting Program at the Tisch School of the Arts, graduating in 1971.

Career

uest'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.

Upon his father succeeding to the family peerage in 1987, he was known as The Hon. Christopher Haden-Guest. This was his official style and name until he inherited the barony in 1996.

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