Christopher Guest


Christopher Guest : biography

05 February 1948 –

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


The experience of having made Spinal Tap would directly inform the second phase of his career. Starting in 1996, Guest began writing, directing and acting in his own series of heavily improvised films. Many of them would come to be definitive examples of what came to be known as "mockumentaries".

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. Each of these movies also shares a hallmark plot development, where the movie leads up to some kind of a highly anticipated performance, or the outcome of a performance. This could reflect Guest’s background in theater, and simply a kind of meta-commentary, as a real performance is of course what is being improvised for the duration. Notably, everyone who appears in these movies receives the same fee, and the same portion of profits.

Despite making a number of mockumentaries, Guest dislikes the term. He maintains that his intention is not to mock anyone, but to explore insular, perhaps obscure communities through his method of filmmaking.

He had a guest voice-over role in the animated comedy series SpongeBob SquarePants as SpongeBob’s cousin, Stanley.

Guest appeared as Dr. Stone in A Few Good Men (1992), as Lord Cromer in Mrs Henderson Presents (2005) and in the 2009 comedy The Invention of Lying.

He is also currently a member of the musical group The Beyman Bros, which he formed with his childhood friend David Nichtern and Spinal Tap’s current keyboardist CJ Vanston. Their debut album Memories of Summer as a Child was released on January 20, 2009.

In 2010, the United States Census Bureau paid $2.5 million to have a television commercial directed by Guest shown during television coverage of Super Bowl XLIV.

Guest holds an honorary doctorate from and is a member of the board of trustees for Berklee College of Music in Boston.

He is currently the writer and producer of the HBO series, "Family Tree," a lighthearted story in the mockumentary 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.

Awards and Nominations

Year Award Category Film url= |title= Christopher Guest – Awards |publisher=IMDb |accessdate=2013-03-15}}
1976 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Writing in a Comedy-Variety or Music Special Ann ElderShared with Earl Pomerantz, Jim Rusk, Lily Tomlin, Rod Warren, George Yanok The Lily Tomlin Special
1995 International Fantasy Film Award Best Film Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman
1998 Independent Spirit Award Best Male Lead Waiting for Guffman
Best ScreenplayShared with Eugene Levy
Lone Star Film & Television Award Best Director
2001 DVD Exclusive Award Best DVD Audio Commentary This Is Spinal Tap
American Comedy Award Funniest Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture Best in Show
Golden Satellite Award Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical
Independent Spirit Award Best Director
Writers Guild of America Award Best Screenplay Written Directly for the ScreenShared with Eugene Levy
2003 Seattle Film Critics Award Best MusicShared with John Michael Higgins, Eugene Levy, Michael McKean, Catherine O’Hara, Annette O’Toole, Harry Shearer, Jeffrey C.J. Vanston A Mighty Wind