John Cleese

Actors

John Marwood Cleese (born October 27, 1939) is an English actor, comedian, screenwriter, and producer. He achieved success at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and as a scriptwriter and performer on The Frost Report. In the late 1960s, he co-founded Monty Python with Graham Chapman, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin, the comedy troupe responsible for the sketch show Monty Python’s Flying Circus. They would all go on to star in Monty Python films, which include Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), Life of Brian (1979) and The Meaning of Life (1983).

In the mid-1970s, Cleese and his first wife, Connie Booth, co-wrote the sitcom Fawlty Towers, and he starred in it as Basil Fawlty. The series resulted in Cleese receiving the 1980 BAFTA for Best Entertainment Performance, and in 2000 the show topped the British Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes. In a 2001 Channel 4 poll, Basil was ranked second on their list of the 100 Greatest TV Characters.

Cleese co-starred with Kevin Kline, Jamie Lee Curtis, and former Python colleague Palin in A Fish Called Wanda (1989) and Fierce Creatures (1997), both of which he also wrote; for A Fish Called Wanda, he was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. He has also starred in Gilliam’s Time Bandits (1981), with Sean Connery, Shelley Duvall, Ralph Richardson, Katherine Helmond, Ian Holm, Palin, Peter Vaughan, and David Warner; Yellowbeard (1983), with Chapman, Peter Cook, Peter Boyle, Cheech & Chong, Martin Hewitt, Michael Hordern, Idle, Madeline Kahn, James Mason, Marty Feldman, Spike Milligan and Peter Bull; Isn’t She Great (2000), with Bette Midler, Nathan Lane, Stockard Channing, David Hyde Pierce, John Larroquette, Amanda Peet, Christopher McDonald, Debbie Shapiro, and Paul Benedict; and Jerry Zucker‘s Rat Race (2001), with Rowan Atkinson, Whoopi Goldberg, Cuba Gooding Jr., Jon Lovitz, Kathy Najimy, Lanai Chapman, Breckin Meyer, Amy Smart, Seth Green, Vince Vieluf, Wayne Knight, and Dave Thomas; and has appeared in many other films, including Lawrence Kasdan’s Silverado (1985), with Kline, Scott Glenn, Danny Glover, Kevin Costner, Brian Dennehy, Rosanna Arquette, Jeff Goldblum and Linda Hunt; Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994), with Robert De Niro, Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hulce, Helena Bonham Carter, Holm, and Aidan Quinn; two James Bond films (as R and Q), with Pierce Brosnan; two Harry Potter films (as Nearly Headless Nick), with Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, and Richard Harris.

Cleese has also voiced acted for films such as An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (1991), with Phillip Glasser, Dom DeLuise, Nehemiah Persoff, Erica Yohn, Cathy Cavadini, Amy Irving, Jon Lovitz, and James Stewart; The Swan Princess (1994), with Michelle Nicastro, Howard McGillin, Jack Palance, Steven Wright, Sandy Duncan, and Steve Vinovich; Shrek 2, 3, and 4 (2004, 2007, 2010), with Mike Meyers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, Rupert Everett, Jennifer Saunders, Justin Timberlake, Walt Dohrn, Jane Lynch, Jon Hamm, Craig Robinson, Lake Bell, Mary Kay Place, and Kristen Schaal; Charlotte’s Web (2006), with Dominic Scott Kay, Julia Roberts, Steve Buscemi, Oprah Winfrey, Thomas Haden Church, André 3000, Cedric the Entertainer, Kathy Bates, Reba McEntire, and Robert Redford; Igor (2008), with John Cusack, Buscemi, Jay Leno, Eddie Izzard, Sean Hayes, Arsenio Hall, Jennifer Coolidge, Molly Shannon, and Christian Slater; Planet 51 (2009), with Dwayne Johnson, Jessica Biel, Justin Long, Gary Oldman, and Seann William Scott; Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (2010), with Helen Mirren, Geoffrey Rush, Jim Sturgess, Hugo Weaving, Emily Barclay, Abbie Cornish, Ryan Kwanten, Anthony LaPaglia, Miriam Margolyes, Sam Neill, Richard Roxburgh, and David Wenham; Winnie the Pooh (2011), with Jim Cummings, Jack Boulter, Travis Oates, Bud Luckey, Tom Kenny, Craig Ferguson, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, and Wyatt Hall; Planes (2013), with Dane Cook, Stacy Keach, Priyanka Chopra, Brad Garrett, Teri Hatcher, Danny Mann, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Roger Craig Smith, Carlos Alazraqui, Val Kilmer, and Anthony Edwards; Trolls (2016), with Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Zooey Deschanel, Christine Baranski, Russell Brand, James Corden, Jeffrey Tambor, and Gwen Stefani; and Arctic Dogs (2019), with Jeremy Renner, Heidi Klum, James Franco, Omar Sy, Michael Madsen, Laurie Holden, Anjelica Huston, and Alec Baldwin.

Emerging from the Cambridge Footlights in the 1960s, Cleese specialises in satire, black comedy, sketch comedy and surreal humour. With Yes Minister writer Antony Jay, he co-founded Video Arts, a production company making entertaining training films. In 1976, Cleese co-founded The Secret Policeman’s Ball benefit shows to raise funds for the human rights organisation Amnesty International. Although a long-running supporter of the Liberal Democrats, in 1999 he turned down a life peerage offer from the party.

Each review will be linked to the title below.

(*seen originally in theaters)

(**seen rereleased in theaters)

  • Interlude (1968) – directed by Kevin Billington
  • The Bliss of Mrs. Blossom (1968) – directed by Joseph McGrath
  • How to Irritate People (1968) – directed by Ian Fordyce – also co-writer
  • The Magic Christian (1969) – directed by Joseph McGrath
  • The Best House in London (1969) – directed by Philip Saville – uncredited actor
  • The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer (1970) – directed by Kevin Billington – also co-writer
  • And Now for Something Completely Different (1971) – directed by
  • Ian MacNaughton – also co-writer
  • The Statue (1971) – directed by Rodney Amateau
  • Who’s There (1971) – directed by Mike Wooller – short
  • Anyone For Sex? (1973) –
  • Is This a Record? (1973) – directed by Digby Turpin – also additional material – short
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)* – directed by Terry Gilliam & Terry Jones – also co-writer
  • Romance with a Double Bass (1975) – directed by Robert Young – also co-writer
  • Who Sold You This, Then? (1975) – directed by Peter Robinson – also co-writer – short
  • Decisions, Decisions (1975) – directed by Peter Robinson
  • Meetings, Bloody Meetings (1976) – directed by Peter Robinson
  • The Strange Case of the End of Civilization as We Know It (1977) – directed by Joseph McGrath – also co-writer – TV special
  • The Balance Sheet Barrier (1977) – directed by Peter Robinson – short
  • The Fortune Teller (1977) – directed by Peter Robinson – short
  • The Control of Working Capital (1978) – directed by Peter Robinson – short
  • Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979)** – directed by Terry Jones – also co-writer
  • To Norway, Home of Giants (1979) – directed by Johnny Bergh & Bjørn Sand – short
  • I’d Like a Word with You (1979) – directed by Peter Robinson – short
  • The Taming of the Shrew (1980) – directed by Jonathan Miller – TV movie
  • Cost, Profit, and Break Even (1980) – directed by Peter Robinson – short
  • Deprecation and Inflation (1980) – directed by Peter Robinson – short
  • The Great Muppet Caper (1981) – directed by Jim Henson – cameo
  • Time Bandits (1981) – directed by Terry Gilliam
  • Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl (1982) – directed by Terry Hughes (live segments) & Ian MacNaughton (filmed segments) – also co-writer – concert comedy film
  • Privates on Parade (1983) – directed by
  • Michael Blakemore
  • Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (1983) – directed by Terry Jones – also co-writer
  • Yellowbeard (1983) – directed by Mel Damski
  • Budgeting (1984) – directed by Peter Robinson – short
  • Silverado (1985) – directed by Lawrence Kasdan
  • Clockwise (1986) – directed by Christopher Morahan
  • A Fish Called Wanda (1988) – directed by Charles Crichton – also writer, executive producer
  • Erik the Viking (1989) – directed by Terry Jones
  • The Big Picture (1989) – directed by Christopher Guest – cameo
  • Bullseye! (1990) – directed by Michael Winner – cameo
  • Grime Goes Green: Your Business and the Environment (1990) – directed by Peter Robinson – also co-writer – short
  • An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (1991) – directed by Phil Nibbelink & Simon Wells
  • It’s Your Choice: Selection Skills for Managers (1993) – directed by Peter Robinson – also writer – short
  • Splitting Heirs (1993) – directed by Robert Young
  • Meetings Bloody Meetings (1993) – directed by Peter Robinson – also co-writer – short
  • The Swan Princess (1994) – directed by Richard Rich
  • Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994) – directed by Kenneth Branagh
  • The Jungle Book (1994)* – directed by Stephen Sommers
  • The Wind in the Willows (1996) – directed by Terry Jones – cameo
  • The Unorganized Manager, Part One: Damnation (1996) – directed by Robert Knights – short
  • Fierce Creatures (1997) – directed by Robert Young and Fred Schepisi – also co-writer, producer
  • George of the Jungle (1997)* – directed by Sam Weisman
  • In the Wild: Operation Lemur with John Cleese (1998) – narrator – documentary
  • The Out-of-Towners (1999) – directed by Sam Weisman
  • Parting Shots (1999) – directed by Michael Winner
  • The World Is Not Enough (1999) – directed by Michael Apted
  • Isn’t She Great (2000) – directed by Andrew Bergman
  • The Magic Pudding (2000) – directed by Karl Zwicky
  • Quantum Project (2001) – directed by Eugenia Zanetti – short
  • Here’s Looking at You: The Evolution of the Human Face (2001) – narrator – documentary
  • Rat Race (2001)* – directed by Jerry Zucker
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001)* – directed by Chris Columbus
  • Taking the Wheel (2002) – directed by David Ackerman – short
  • The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002) – directed by Ron Underwood
  • Pinocchio (2002) – directed by Roberto Benigni – English dub – Italy
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) – directed by Chris Columbus
  • Die Another Day (2002) – directed by Lee Tamahori
  • Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle (2003) – directed by McG
  • Scorched (2003) – directed by Gavin Grazer
  • George of the Jungle 2 (2003) – directed by David Grossman – direct-to-video
  • Education Tips No. 41: Choosing a Really Expensive School (2003) – directed by Terry Jones – also co-writer – short
  • Shrek 2 (2004)* – directed by Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury & Conrad Vernon
  • Around the World in 80 Days (2004) – directed by Frank Coraci
  • Valiant (2005) – directed by Gary Chapman
  • Charlotte’s Web (2006) – directed by Gary Winick
  • Man About Town (2006) – directed by Mike Binder
  • Shrek the Third (2007)* – directed by Chris Miller & Raman Hui
  • Igor (2008) – directed by Tony Leondis
  • The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008) – directed by Scott Derrickson
  • The Pink Panther 2 (2009) – directed by Harald Zwart
  • Planet 51 (2009) – directed by Jorge Blanco
  • Spud (2010) – directed by Donovan Marsh
  • Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (2010) – directed by Zack Snyder
  • Shrek Forever After (2010) – directed by Mike Mitchell
  • Beethoven’s Christmas Adventure (2011) – – directed by John Putch – narrator
  • The Big Year (2011) – directed by David Frankel
  • Winnie the Pooh (2011) – directed by Stephen Anderson & Don Hall
  • God Loves Caviar (2012) – directed by Yannis Smaragdis
  • A Liar’s Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman (2012) – directed by Bill Jones, Jeff Simpson, & Ben Timlett
  • The Last Impresario (2013) – directed by Gracie Otto – himself – documentary
  • The Croods (2013) – directed by Kirk DeMicco & Chris Sanders – co-story only
  • Spud 2: The Madness Continues (2013) – directed by Donovan Marsh
  • Planes (2013) – directed by Klay Hall
  • Monty Python Live (Mostly): One Down, Five to Go (2014)* – directed by Eric Idle & Aubrey Powell – also co-writer – concert film
  • Spud 3: Learning to Fly (2014) – directed by John Barker
  • Absolutely Anything (2015) – directed by Terry Jones
  • Get Squirrely (2016) – directed by Ross Venokur
  • Albion: The Enchanted Stallion (2016) –
  • Trolls (2016)* – directed by Mike Mitchell
  • Charming (2018) – directed by Ross Venokur
  • Elliot the Littlest Reindeer (2018) – directed by Jennifer Wescott
  • The Naked Wanderer (2019) – directed by Alan Lindsey
  • Arctic Dogs (2019) – directed by Aaron Woodley & Dimos Vrysellas
  • The Very Excellent Mr. Dundee (2020) – directed by Dean Murphy
  • Clifford the Big Red Dog (2021) – directed by Walt Becker