John Marwood Cleese (born October 27, 1939) is a British comedian and actor, born in Weston-super-Mare in the county of Somerset. His talent for comedy emerged as a member of the Cambridge Footlights Revue during the time that he was a law student at Downing College, Cambridge.
He became famous as one of the members of the Monty Python team (especially for the "Cheese Shop", "The Ministry of Silly Walks", and "Dead Parrot" sketches), and later as the awful hotel manager Basil Fawlty in Fawlty Towers, which he also cowrote with then wife Connie Booth. Cleese is noted for his talent for expressing indignation and outrage.
His family's surname was previously "Cheese", but his father Reginald Francis Cheese, an insurance salesman, changed his surname to "Cleese" upon joining the army in 1915 .
With Robin Skynner, Cleese wrote a number of books on dealing with relations: Families and how to survive them, and Life and how to survive it. The books are presented as an ongoing dialogue between Skynner and Cleese.
He also produced and acted in a number of successful business training films, including Meetings, Bloody Meetings and More Bloody Meetings about how to set up and run successful meetings.
- The Magic Christian (1969)
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1974) (various roles including Sir Lancelot and Tim the Enchanter)
- The Life of Brian (1979) (various roles including Reg)
- The Secret Policeman's Ball (1980)
- The Great Muppet Caper (1981)
- Time Bandits (1981) (as a gormless Robin Hood)
- Privates on Parade\ (1982)
- Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (1983)
- Silverado (1985) (plays Langston an English sheriff in a town in the western USA. His first line, as he walks in to a bar to break up a brawl, is, "What's all this, then?")
- Clockwise (1986) (as Mr. Stimpson, a school headmaster)
- A Fish Called Wanda (1988) (writer, director, actor: as lawyer Archie Leach (Cary Grant's real name))
- Splitting Heirs (1993)
- Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book (1994)
- Fierce Creatures (1996) (as Rollo Lee, owner of an English zoo; the novelization suggests that he is actually the twin brother of Archie Leach from A Fish Called Wanda, with a slight change of surname)
- The Out-of-Towners (1999)
- The World is Not Enough (1999) (a James Bond film) (as Q's assistant, nicknamed R by Bond)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001) (as the ghost "Nearly Headless Nick" - although he prefers Sir Nicholas, if you don't mind)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) ditto
- Die Another Day (2002) (another James Bond film (set to become a regular as "Q"))