He may be the genius behind the cult movie Spinal Tap but Christopher Guest is a decidedly unusual man to work with according to the cast of his new comedy.


Chris O’Dowd the Bridesmaids and Moone Boy star who plays Tom Chadwick the lead in Guests’s new BBC/HBO comedy Family Tree, said that he found Guest “intimidating" to work with.

“It was intimidating going to meet him because I was a big fan,” said O'Dowd adding that Guest often failed to see the funny side of O’Dowd’s improvisations for the show where much of the material was devised on set by the cast.

“When I would do half-prepared jokes he would tell me that was funny, Chris, it was really funny but not for this show."

O’Dowd added that in his spare time Guest would indulge in his own passion for geneaology including studying tombstones.

“He would visit graveyards. We were filming in one and he told us that he had been there the day before. That was a bit morbid. I had been watching Superman that day.”

Speaking at today’s screening for the new comedy, Tom Bennett, who plays Tom’s best friend Pete in the comedy said of Guest: “He just comes over and says wow, wow, wow. But what the f*** wow means is anyone’s guess.

“I still don’t now what he expected. I am so in awe of him.”

Nina Conti, who plays Tom’s oddball sister Bea, added: “[Christopher Guest’s] sense of the absurd is so extreme he only has one word left.”

The comedy is based around Tom’s interest in genealogy which he takes up after having his heart broken.

Conti revealed at the screening that she is distantly related to Napoleon while Bennett is related to the French Emperor’s Nemesis The Duke Of Wellington.

O’Dowd revealed he has no noble blood: “We traced the O’Dowd’s to the 15th and 16th centuries and they lived fifteen minutes from where we live now,” he said.


Family tree airs on BBC2 on July 16.