John Cleese: from Monty Python to the Big Red Dogs


Between 1969 and 1974, Monthy Python’s flying circus was conceived, written and performed by Cleese with Graham Chapman, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin. Monty Python has changed the face of comedy. Defiant against the establishment and sticking it to the man at every opportunity, the irreverent show was a goofy comedic concoction that pushed the envelope. Fueled by Gilliam’s signature animation and a treadmill of catchphrases, “nudge nudge, wink wink!”, the non-stop barrage of surreal skits, including “The Ministry of Silly Walks”, “Upper-Class Twit of the Year” and the infamous “The Parrot Sketch”, still resonates today, inspiring generations of funny people.

Inevitably, the big screen beckoned, and Cleese and his fellow comedians poked fun at the Arthurian legend in Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) with hilarious results. The controversial but brilliant Brian’s life (1979) followed and saw the Pythons face charges of blasphemy. The story of Brian, the child born in the stable next to Jesus that same night, has been deemed sacrilegious by some and witty by many. Ultimately, The meaning of life (1983) returned The Pythons to more sketch-based comedy, albeit in a more adult way. Freed from the shackles of television, the Pythons have happily pushed the limits.

In the mid-1970s, Cleese and his first wife Connie Booth co-wrote arguably the greatest British sitcom of all time, the BAFTA-winning Fawlty Towers. Set in a ramshackle hotel in the British seaside town of Torquay, Cleese, at his maniacal best, played neurotic hotel manager Basil Fawlty. Starring Prunella Scales as his domineering wife Sybil and Andrew Sachs as Manuel, their servile and incomprehensible Spanish waiter, the show, which lasted just 12 episodes, is an all-time classic topping the charts. the British Film Institute’s 2000 list of Britain’s 100 biggest television companies. Programs. In a Channel 4 poll in 2001, Basil was ranked second on its list of the 100 Greatest TV Characters.

On the big screen, Hollywood beckons. Cleese starred in Python’s Fantasy Adventure Terry Gilliam bandits of time (1981) as Camp Robin Hood and as Silverado (1985) he left for the Wild West. At Kenneth Branagh’s Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994), he played Baron Frankenstein’s tutor and brain donor, Professor Waldman and in rat race (2001) as an eccentric Las Vegas billionaire. He also appeared in two James Bond films, The world is not enough (2000) and die another day (2002), playing ‘R’ and ‘Q’ respectively. And the young at heart will recognize him as Nearly Headless Nick in Harry Potter at the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001) and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) and King in the Final Three Shrek movies.

In 1988, in a huge surprise, Cleese played the romantic lead in the brilliant A fish called Wanda with Oscar winner Kevin Kline, Jamie Lee Curtis and former Python colleague Michael Palin. A crime comedy paying homage to the wild Ealing comedies of the 1950s, the hilarious heist film follows hapless lawyer Archie Leach, played by Cleese, who is seduced into helping a gang of diamond thieves. Curtis lights up the screen and the chemistry between her and Cleese is palpable. In one famous scene, it’s a dorky Cleese showing the flesh by turning the tables on traditional cinematic expectations.

“I had an idea very early on, when I was talking to Jamie about the plot and how I was going to develop it,” he said. vanity lounge, “and I had a scene where she was caught naked. She said, ‘You know, I’ve done several. I’d rather not.’ She said, ‘Why don’t you write a scene where you’re the one naked?’ I thought, that’s really good.

In the delicious family film, Clifford the big red dog, Cleese plays the benevolent owner of Bridwell’s Animal Rescue Tent, the short-lived refuge where lonely schoolgirl Emily (Darby Camp) and her incompetent Uncle Casey (British comic Jack Whitehall) first encounter Clifford, then Little Red Dog. Cleese imbues the character with a mischievous sense of magic, that sense of fantasy that arouses wonder in young people.

Development stopped and Veep Star Tony Hale who plays villainous Zac Tieran, the owner of Lyfegro, a genetics company who wants Clifford’s now huge DNA to help him in his animal breeding experiments, was in awe of his co- star, as he told the entertainment website Future. “It was really hard not to fanboy because I grew up on Monty Python and even though there was broad comedy they had such subtlety in their performances on a number of occasions. So I remember we were going to the van for the scene, and my scene was shot somewhere other than his, but I was just kinda in the backseat watching him and I’m sure he was like, ‘Okay man, okay? to install.’ But I was just like, ‘This is John Cleese. This is John Cleese. I mean, I was just trying not to completely ridicule myself.



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