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No More Movies for John Cleese

Margaret here to break it to you that British comedy icon John Cleese is done with the movies. So he claimed, anyway, at a promotional appearance for his new memoir, So Anyway..., at the Cheltenham Literary Festival. 

In answer to a fan who asked about upcoming film projects, he flippantly announced that at age 74 he is too near death to work on new movies. "I have only got five or six years left, and then I will be gone." Noting the upside that this exempts him from worry about ISIS or Ebola, he quips: "Most of the best people are dead - I will be in excellent company having a wonderful time."
Perhaps he's not serious about quitting film; many of his showbiz peers have cried retirement only to be back at work almost immediately. (Remember when Steven Soderbergh claimed to be retiring and then it turned out he has no idea what that means?) It could also be that full retirement won't constitute an enormous shift for him. Over the last decade and change, Cleese has been primarily been cropping up in the voice casts for animated studio features. His last movie project as writer/producer, Fierce Creatures, is almost 20 years old. 
He can at least rest comfortably on the knowledge that his best work is immortal.  A Fish Called Wanda is a comic treasure (and earned Cleese an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay), but it's his work with Monty Python that keeps him at legend status. Naturally, a fan at the Cheltenham Literary Festival asked Cleese about that comedy group. He was typically acidic in his response, insisting that the Python members were never "huge friends" and sayin this of his former co-stars:
"Michael [Palin], as you know, makes those travel programs that I put on any time I can’t sleep. Eric Idle is very good at lyrics so he is writing songs. Terry Gilliam is off trying to raise money for one of his plotless ­extravaganzas. And [Terry] Jonesy is just insane – he writes children’s books and recently went to Lisbon and directed an opera about vacuum cleaners."
Harsh, perhaps, but certainly in the biting Python spirit. Which former Pythons are you still keeping up with? What Cleese/Python project will you treasure most once they're all fully retired?

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Reader Comments (4)

Two words: Fawlty Towers. It's not a film project, and it's not Monty Python, but it's the best damn thing Cleese - or anyone else - has ever done on Television.

October 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMrW

He has been chasing FT mega classic success for yrs,why is he such a grumpy person.

October 16, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermark

That is not grumpiness, that is the British equivalent of senior snark, which sometimes has a you-had-to-be-there quality. Biting wit, they used to call it.

October 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

The best thing Cleese did is A Fish Called Wanda which is definitely one of the funniest. The one I follow the most is Terry Gilliam as I wonder what he will do next.

October 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSteven

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