For such a damn funny actor, I’m surprised to find that Christopher Guest is so serious about his work. At the offices of Castle Rock Entertainment I finally get to meet the man who brought Spinal Tap’s heavy metal rocker Nigel Tufnel to life. It is in this tiny, antiseptic office that I’m instantly reminded of a scene from a movie I saw the night before. A couple is at a therapist’s office with their dog. The woman, played by Parker Posey, apologizes to the forlorn pup who saw them having sex. Ironically, doggy-style. “I’m sorry you had to see that.” This bizarre scene is from Best in Show, Christopher Guest’s new film. The humor is smart and subtle often commenting on the peculiarities of everyday people. Guest got the idea for Best in Show, a comedy about the world of professional dog shows, while walking his own dogs and overhearing the banter among obsessed dog owners. Best in Show completes the Christopher Guest mockumentary trilogy which includes “Waiting for Guffman” and the now classic “This is Spinal Tap.” Christopher doesn’t just act in his movies – as writer and director, he passionately leads a team of accomplished comedians like Eugene Levy, Michæl McKean and Catherine O’Hara in an improvisational acting style that is as surreal as it is real. Best in Show is hysterical because of those improvised performances, most notably by Guest himself as the hilarious hick owner of a hound dog. So, it is in this cramped office that I begin my own therapy session with Christopher.
Best in Show is great, have you seen it with an audience? ^ We had the premiere the other night so I saw it with an audience. But I’ve never seen any of my movies with a paying audience. I don’t like to go. It makes me nervous.
Why does it make you nervous? ^ (Strangely, this does seem to make Guest nervous, even discussing it.) Well, by that time I’ve seen the movie a hundred times, over a period of eight months of editing and I’m just uneasy, I don’t know.
You’ve made your reputation as an almost a chameleon-like comic character actor who excels at subtle performances. But I feel, even with everything I’ve read about you, I don’t really know you. So, who the hell is Christopher Guest? I know the resume, but I don’t know the man. ^ Well, if you think you’re going to get that in a few minutes, you’re sadly mistaken young man. Well, I would say that that’s very accurate. I would say that I’m a private person. I tend not to talk about myself. Again, you’re right. What you hear when I do interviews is the subject of what I’m doing as opposed to who I am and that is an area that I guess I’m not comfortable talking about. And I’m a private person.
(Uh, okay, moving on.) I respect that. But may I ask one question that may be a little personal (Guest hesitantly nods approval, obviously wondering what’s coming) — you’re married to Jamie Lee Curtis? ^ That’s true.
You must own “True Lies” on video? ^ I imagine we do. I’ve only seen that movie once.
She’s fantastic in it- (Note: Jamie Lee Curtis performs an incredible strip tease for Arnold Schwarzenegger. Jamie’s slow sexy show is the best action scene in the film. He KNOWS what I’m talking about. Clearly, Guest and I are both thinking of THAT scene.) ^ Mmmm…. She’s talented. Yeah, she’s great in it.
“This is Spinal Tap” has spawned a huge fan following even beyond the film with Spinal Tap going on tour and before we know it there are going to be Spinal Tap conventions and action figures – what do you attribute fan’s long devotion to that film? It almost scares me! ^ There are action figures and they’re coming out in October. What’s coming out in October is a slew of “Tap” stuff – lunch boxes. And they made these action figures that are really astonishing.
How does it feel to be made into an action figure? ^ It’s great. And they’re amazing, they really are incredible.
Do you think it’s possible for a dog to be traumatized by seeing people having sex? ^ I should start with the fact that that scene in the movie is based on a real premise that people take their dogs to therapists. We weren’t making that up. So, that exists in the world. So, I’ll just throw that out. I… don’t think… I would do that. (LAUGH) I have two dogs and I can’t imagine taking my dog to a dog therapist but that is being done as we speak.
Get the complete story in UNINVITED GUEST: A CHRISTOPHER GUEST INTERVIEW (part 2)>>>