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Interview with Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy

"A Mighty Wind" Reunites Old Friends

By Rebecca Murray and Fred Topel

A Mighty Wind movie

Christopher Guest in "A Mighty Wind"

Warner Bros. Pictures
The talent behind the acclaimed films "Waiting for Guffman" and "Best in Show" are back and this time they're taking on the world of folk music.

"A Mighty Wind" is the story of a son's desire to honor the memory of his beloved folk icon father, by reuniting the most popular folk acts of the 60s. Showing up for the special one night event are Mitch & Mickey (Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara), The Folksmen (Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer), and The New Main Street Singers (featuring John Michael Higgins, Jane Lynch and Parker Posey).

Writer/director/actor Christopher Guest and writer/actor Eugene Levy talk about the atmosphere on the set, working with such a talented group of actors, and bringing folk music to the big screen in 2003.

Where did the idea for "A Mighty Wind" come from?
CHRISTOPHER GUEST: I played a lot of folk music as a kid in New York, where it was actually happening in the '60s, and so it was something that I knew something about. Basically that was a place to start. I wanted to do some music in a film, and so I started talking to Eugene about it, and Eugene has always been a musical person.

Why were you so interested in putting your music in a film?
GUEST: Well, I've played music for 40 years and it was exciting to play in a movie live. No one ever does that. You don't hear live music in movies.

Your look in this film is hilarious. Can you talk about that?
GUEST: One of the first things Gene and I do is write the story around the actors that we know because not every actor can do this kind of work. It's a very different kind of movie. We always try to choose something that's kind of odd about our looks. Obviously, Gene's is pretty different, and I thought I would just go for this shaving the top of my head, which was difficult, in real life, to walk around like that. It's an odd thing. My daughter said, "By the time it grows back, you'll be bald."

Do you worry about the fact that all these people should be in their 60's?
GUEST: Yes, well, but we're close enough. The fact is that we talked about this very specifically and we said, "Literally, these people are 68 years old, but we're the next generation that was really just following those people in the '60s." I was playing folk music in 1966 in Greenwich Village, so I am my [character].

Are you worried about the relevance of this film?
GUEST: No. What we worry about is whether it's funny, pure and simple. If you start worrying about what kids are going to like, than that's a different business. Some other people are in that business, but Gene and I try to make each other laugh and do something that we find fun to do, and hope it works out. I think if you sit at home and start thinking about that, than we're out of our realm.

EUGENE LEVY: You narrow the scope down to the type of subject matter you may not necessarily want to do.

You do smart comedy.
GUEST: We do comedy that, again, makes us laugh. That's what makes us laugh - the kind of movies we're making.

Why can't Hollywood keep up this level of standards?
GUEST: Well, because there are a lot of different kinds of people out there that want different things. People want action movies and people want different kinds of movies. These are the kind of movies that we make. We're not trying to make the "Titanic" of comedies. These are just movies that I make.

LEVY: They're not aimed at the masses. It's not like "Airplane." It's not like these movies that are really trying to hit a vein here.

GUEST: It's not aimed, really, at anything other than that I hope these are funny and someone enjoys them. If they're successful on a certain level, than I get to keep making these movies. This isn't, suddenly, "Let's open this in 3,000 theaters." Not everyone's going to get it, but that's okay. That's just the way it is.

NEXT PAGE: Levy and Guest Discuss the Large Ensemble Cast and Improv

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