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John Cleese

John Cleese
John Cleese 2008 bigger crop.jpg
Cleese in 2008
Born (1939-10-27) 27 October 1939 (age 77)
Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, England
Occupation Actor, voice actor, screenwriter, producer, comedian
Years active 1961–present
Spouse(s)
Children 2
Website thejohncleese.com

John Marwood Cleese (/ˈklz/; born 27 October 1939) is an English actor, voice actor, screenwriter, producer, and comedian. 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, the comedy troupe responsible for the sketch show Monty Python's Flying Circus and the four Monty Python films: And Now for Something Completely Different, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life.

In the mid-1970s, Cleese and his first wife, Connie Booth, co-wrote and starred in the British sitcom Fawlty Towers, with Cleese receiving the 1980 BAFTA for Best Entertainment Performance. Later, he co-starred with Kevin Kline, Jamie Lee Curtis, and former Python colleague Michael Palin in A Fish Called Wanda and Fierce Creatures, both of which he also wrote. He also starred in Clockwise and has appeared in many other films, including two James Bond films as R and Q, two Harry Potter films, and the last three Shrek films.


Year Title Role Notes
1968 Interlude TV Publicist
1968 The Bliss of Mrs. Blossom Post office clerk
1969 Magic Christian, TheThe Magic Christian Mr. Dougdale (director in Sotheby's)
1969 Best House in London, TheThe Best House in London Jones Uncredited
1970 Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer, TheThe Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer Pummer Also writer
1971 And Now for Something Completely Different Various roles Also writer
1971 The Statue Harry
1974 Romance with a Double Bass Musician Smychkov Also writer
1975 Monty Python and the Holy Grail Various roles Also writer
1977 Strange Case of the End of Civilization as We Know It, TheThe Strange Case of the End of Civilization as We Know It Arthur Sherlock Holmes Also writer
1979 Monty Python's Life of Brian Various roles Also writer
1981 Great Muppet Caper, TheThe Great Muppet Caper Neville Cameo
1981 Time Bandits Gormless Robin Hood
1982 Privates on Parade Major Giles Flack
1982 Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl Various roles Concert film; also writer
1983 Yellowbeard Harvey 'Blind' Pew
1983 Monty Python's The Meaning of Life Various roles Also writer
1985 Silverado Langston
1986 Clockwise Mr. Stimpson Evening Standard British Film Awards Peter Sellers Award for Comedy
1988 Fish Called Wanda, AA Fish Called Wanda Barrister Archie Leach Also writer and executive producer
BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Nominated—Academy Award For Best Original Screenplay
Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated—Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay
1989 Erik the Viking Halfdan the Black
1989 The Big Picture Bartender Cameo
1990 Bullseye! Man on the Beach in Barbados Who Looks Like John Cleese Cameo
1991 An American Tail: Fievel Goes West Cat R. Waul Voice
1993 Splitting Heirs Raoul P. Shadgrind
1994 Mary Shelley's Frankenstein Professor Waldman
1994 The Jungle Book Dr. Julius Plumford
1994 Swan Princess, TheThe Swan Princess Jean-Bob Voice
1996 Wind in the Willows, TheThe Wind in the Willows Mr. Toad's Lawyer Cameo
1997 Fierce Creatures Rollo Lee Also writer and producer
1997 George of the Jungle An Ape Named 'Ape' Voice
1998 In the Wild: Operation Lemur with John Cleese Narrator Documentary
1999 Out-of-Towners, TheThe Out-of-Towners Mr. Mersault
1999 World Is Not Enough, TheThe World Is Not Enough R
2000 Isn't She Great Henry Marcus
2000 The Magic Pudding Albert The Magic Pudding Voice
2001 Quantum Project Alexander Pentcho
2001 Here's Looking at You: The Evolution of the Human Face Narrator Documentary
2001 Rat Race Donald P. Sinclair
2001 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Nearly Headless Nick
2002 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Nearly Headless Nick
2002 Roberto Benigni's Pinocchio The Talking Crickett English dub
2002 Die Another Day Q
2002 Adventures of Pluto Nash, TheThe Adventures of Pluto Nash James
2003 Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle Mr. Munday
2003 Scorched Charles Merchant
2003 George of the Jungle 2 An Ape Named 'Ape' Voice
2004 Shrek 2 King Harold Voice
2004 Around the World in 80 Days Grizzled Sergeant
2005 Valiant Mercury Voice
2006 Charlotte's Web Samuel the Sheep Voice
2006 Man About Town Dr. Primkin
2007 Shrek the Third King Harold Voice
2008 Igor Dr. Glickenstein Voice
2008 Day the Earth Stood Still, TheThe Day the Earth Stood Still Dr. Barnhardt
2009 Pink Panther 2, TheThe Pink Panther 2 Chief-Inspector Charles Dreyfus
2009 Planet 51 Professor Kipple Voice
2010 Spud The Guv
2010 Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole Ghost Voice
2010 Shrek Forever After King Harold Voice
2011 Beethoven's Christmas Adventure Narrator Voice
2011 The Big Year Historical Montage Narrator Voice
2011 Winnie the Pooh Narrator Voice
2012 God Loves Caviar McCormick
2012 A Liar's Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python's Graham Chapman David Frost / Various roles Voices
2013 The Last Impresario Himself Documentary
2013 The Croods Story credit
2013 Spud 2: The Madness Continues The Guv
2013 Planes Bulldog Voice
2014 Spud 3: Learning to Fly The Guv
2015 Absolutely Anything Chief Alien Voice
2016 Trolls King Gristle Sr. Voice
2017 Charming The Fairy Godmother Voice
2018 Arctic Justice: Thunder Squad Doc Walrus Voice
Year Title Role Notes
1962–1963 That Was the Week That Was Writer
1966–1967 The Frost Report Various roles 28 episodes; also writer
1967 At Last the 1948 Show Various roles 2 episodes; also writer
1968 How to Irritate People Various roles Television film; also writer
1968 The Avengers Marcus Rugman Episode: "Look – (Stop Me If You've Heard This One) But There Were These Two Fellers..."
1969–1974 Monty Python's Flying Circus Various roles 40 episodes; also co-creator and writer
Nominated—BAFTA Television Award for Best Light Entertainment Performance (1970–1971)
1971, 1974 Sez Les Various roles 18 episodes
1973 The Goodies The Genie Episode: "The Goodies and the Beanstalk"
1973 Comedy Playhouse Sherlock Holmes Episode: "Elementary, My Dear Watson"
1975, 1979 Fawlty Towers Basil Fawlty 12 episodes; also co-creator and writer
Nominated—BAFTA Television Award for Best Light Entertainment Performance (1976, 1980)
1977 The Muppet Show Himself Episode: "John Cleese"
1979 Ripping Yarns Passer-by Episode: Golden Gordon
1979 Doctor Who Art Lover Episode: "City of Death"
1980 The Taming of the Shrew Petruchio Television film
1980 Secret Policeman's Ball, TheThe Secret Policeman's Ball Himself (host) Television special
1982 Whoops Apocalypse Lacrobat 3 episodes
1987 Cheers Dr. Simon Finch-Royce Episode: "Simon Says"
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series
1988 True Stories: Peace in our Time? Neville Chamberlain Television film
1992 Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? Narrator (voice) Television special
1993 Last of the Summer Wine Neighbour Episode: "Welcome to Earth"
1998, 2001 3rd Rock from the Sun Dr. Liam Neesam 4 episodes
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series
1999 Casper & Mandrilaftalen Various roles Episode #2.2
2001 The Human Face Himself (host) 4 episodes; also writer
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Nonfiction Special
2002 Wednesday 9:30 (8:30 Central) Red Lansing 12 episodes
2002 House of Mouse Narrator (voice) 4 episodes
2003–2004 Will & Grace Lyle Finster Uncredited
6 episodes
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series
2004 Wine for the Confused Himself (host) Documentary; also writer
2008 Batteries Not Included Himself (host) 6 episodes
2008 We Are Most Amused Himself (host) Television special
2010 Entourage Himself Episode: "Lose Yourself"
2012–2013 Whitney Dr. Grant 2 episodes
2014 Over the Garden Wall Quincy Endicott / Adelaide (voices) 2 episodes
Year Title Role Notes
1994 Storybook Weaver Narrator Voice
1998 Starship Titanic The Bomb Voice
Credited as Kim Bread
2000 007 Racing R Voice
2000 007: The World Is Not Enough (N64) R Voice
2000 007: The World Is Not Enough (PS1) R Voice
2003 James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing Q Voice
2004 Time Troopers Special Agent Wormold Voice
2004 Trivial Pursuit: Unhinged History Voice
2005 Jade Empire Sir Roderick Voice
2007 Shrek the Third King Harold Voice
2010 Fable III Jasper Voice
2012 Smart As The Narrator Voice
2014 The Elder Scrolls Online Sir Cadwell Voice
2016 Payday 2 The Butler (Aldstone) Voice
Year Title
1964–1973 I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again
1972 I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue
Year Title Role Notes
2005–2011 Spamalot God Voice
2014 Monty Python Live (Mostly) Various roles Also writer
Year Title Role
1970s Royal Mail Pirate / Sir Betty
1975 Texaco Himself
1978 Accurist Himself
1980–82 Sony Himself
1981 Giroblauw (Netherlands) Interviewer
1982 Postbank (Netherlands) Himself
1982 EAC Multilist (Australia) Estate Agent
1982 American Express Himself
1980s Compaq Himself
1980s Planters Pretzels (Australia) Himself
1986 Maxwell House Himself
1988 Talking Pages Man who wants to marry Princess
1990–91 Schweppes Himself
1991–94 Magnavox Himself
1992–93 Talking Pages Colin
1993 Nestlé Milk Chocolate (Australia) Himself
1993 Cellnet Woman
1993–95 Health Education Authority (Smoking Quitline) Himself
1996 Norwich Union Direct Himself
1996 Tele Danmark (Denmark) Himself
1998 Tostitos French Chef
1998 Lexus Himself, voice only
1998–99 Sainsbury's Himself
1999 Melba toast Himself
1999 Artistdirect.com Himself
2001 007: Agent Under Fire R
2001–08 Titleist Ian MacCallister
2002 Little Tikes Himself
2002 Heineken Himself
2003 Westinghouse Unplugged vacuum cleaner Himself
2005 Intel Himself
2006 TBS Himself
2006 TV Spielfilm (Germany) Himself
2006–08 Kaupþing (Iceland) Himself
2008 Bank Zachodni WBK (Poland) Himself
2009 Elgiganten (Sweden) Himself
2009 Hashahar Ha'oleh (Israel) Western general
2009 Accurist Himself
2010 William Hill (Austria) Himself
2010–11 AA Himself
2011 Dogtober (Australia) Himself, voice only
2012 Czech Olympic Team (Czech Republic) Himself
2012 DirecTV Himself
2012 Canadian Club (Australia) Himself, voice only
2015 Specsavers Basil Fawlty
Academic offices
Preceded by
Learie Nicholas Constantine, Baron Constantine, Kt.
Rector of the University of St Andrews
1970–1973
Succeeded by
Alan Coren
Preceded by
Desmond Llewelyn
1963–1999
Q
(James Bond Character)

2002
Succeeded by
Ben Whishaw

  • A species of lemur, the Bemaraha woolly lemur (Avahi cleesei), has been named in his honour. John Cleese has mentioned this in television interviews. Also there is mention of this honour in "New Scientist"—and John Cleese's response to the honour.
  • An asteroid, 9618 Johncleese, is named in his honour.
  • Cleese declined a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in 1996.
  • There is a municipal rubbish heap of 45 metres (148 ft) in altitude that has been named Mt Cleese at the Awapuni landfill just outside Palmerston North after he dubbed the city "suicide capital of New Zealand".
  • "The Universal Language" skit from All in the Timing, a collection of short plays by David Ives, centres around a fictional language (Unamunda) in which the word for the English language is "johncleese".
  • The post-hardcore rock band I Set My Friends on Fire has a song on their You Can't Spell Slaughter Without Laughter album titled "Reese's Pieces, I Don't Know Who John Cleese Is?".
  • The Rectorial Address of John Cleese, Epam, 1971, 8 pages
  • Cleese Encounters: The Unauthorized Biography of Monty Python Veteran John Cleese, Jonathan Margolis, St. Martin's Press, 1992,
  • The Human Face (with Brian Bates) (DK Publishing Inc., 2001, )
  • Foreword for Time and the Soul, Jacob Needleman, 2003, (paperback)
  • Superman: True Brit, DC Comics, 2004,
  • So, Anyway..., 2014, Crown Archetype,
  • Cleese, John (2014). So, Anyway... Crown Archetype. ISBN . 
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