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What The Cast Of This Is Spinal Tap Looks Like Today

In 1984, a group of comedy performers who also happened to be musicians got together with a burgeoning director to make a fake documentary about the World's Loudest Heavy Metal Band. What followed was a largely improvisational odyssey through impossible-to-find stage doors, controversial album covers, songs about big bottoms, and a Stonehenge monument that was built entirely too small.

This Is Spinal Tap was an instant comedy classic, and helped pave the way for mockumentary filmmaking for years to come. It was also a star-packed ensemble piece featuring performers who were already stars, performers who were just becoming stars, and performers who were about to be stars. People who had even the smallest of parts in the film have since gone on to massive success, whether through TV sitcoms or talk show bandleading or lengthy careers as distinguished character actors. In celebration of the film's 35th anniversary, here's what the cast of This Is Spinal Tap looks like today.

Michael McKean - David St. Hubbins

As David St. Hubbins, Spinal Tap's egotistical lead singer, Michael McKean was the voice of Spinal Tap, belting out hits ranging from "Tonight I'm Gonna Rock You Tonight" to "Big Bottom" to "Stonehenge." David's own ego and ongoing conflicts with his bandmate Nigel make up the spine (pun intended) of the film's plot, and that leads to memorable lines, including his tirade after the "Stonehenge" debacle, in which he asserts, "That tended to understate the hugeness of the object."

McKean rose to national fame on the 1970s sitcom Laverne & Shirley as the Lenny half of Lenny and Squiggy before moving on to comedy classics including This Is Spinal Tap and Clue in 1984 and 1985, respectively. He's a comedy legend with a massive resume that also includes Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Saturday Night Live, Best In Show, and much more. In 2015, he earned massive critical acclaim when he joined the cast of Better Call Saul as Chuck McGill, and he'll next be seen in the Amazon original series Good Omens.

Christopher Guest - Nigel Tufnel

As Nigel Tufnel, Spinal Tap's lead guitarist, Christopher Guest has become the band's most famous member thanks in part to having the most quotable lines. He also happens to star in the film's most famous scene: the moment in which Nigel shows off his guitar collection and reveals his amplifiers with numbers that go to 11. This is particularly amusing in light of the film's depiction of Nigel as a dim-witted man who somehow also possesses the lion's share of creative talent in the band, as evidenced by what happens when he leaves and David and Derek have to try a "Jazz Odyssey" show because almost all of their original songs were written by Nigel.

Guest has spent much of his time since This Is Spinal Tap continuing to work in the improvisational mockumentary style of the film, writing, directing, and starring in some of the most acclaimed comedies of the 1990s and 2000s, including Best In Show, A Mighty Wind, and For Your Consideration. He has also continued to reunite with his Spinal Tap bandmates for various comedy projects, including the Spinal Tap: Back from the Dead video in 2009. His most recent project as writer and director was the 2016 film Mascots.

Harry Shearer - Derek Smalls

Bassist Derek Smalls is the quiet one among the principal three members of Spinal Tap, the one who'd rather not get into every fight between David and Nigel, and who also manages to suffer some of the band's most embarrassing moments. It's Derek who keeps shouting "Hello, Cleveland!" in the basement of the concert venue when the band can't find the door, Derek who gets stuck in his pod during "Rock 'n' Roll Creation," and Derek who has to reveal his interesting... enhancement during an airport security scan.

Through all of that, Harry Shearer has perfect understated comic timing, something he's brought to countless projects before and since the film. His screen acting credits stretch all the way back to the 1950s, and before This Is Spinal Tap he contributed to Saturday Night Live and Laverne & Shirley, among other projects. Since This Is Spinal Tap, he has perhaps become best-known as a member of the voice cast of The Simpsons, where he provides the voices of everyone from Mr. Burns to Ned Flanders to Reverend Lovejoy, along with dozens of other characters.

Rob Reiner - Marty Di Bergi

This Is Spinal Tap is, of course, best known for its relentless parody of rock stars in all their absurdity, from elaborate stage props gone horribly wrong to the times the characters say something so stupid that it loops back around to almost sounding wise. The film is also a parody of documentary filmmakers, though, and as director Marty Di Bergi, Rob Reiner absolutely sells that aspect. With his enthusiasm for his subject, military baseball cap, and constant pursuit of the truth of the band, he brings another layer of comedy to an already packed comedic experience.

The son of legendary comedian Carl Reiner, Rob Reiner was born into showbusiness, but his big break as a screen star came when he played Michael "Meathead" Stivic on the classic sitcom All in the Family from 1971 to 1978. In the 1980s he turned to directing, and made his feature directorial debut with Spinal Tap. Between 1984 and 1995 he had one of the most successful directorial runs ever, following up This Is Spinal Tap with classics including Stand By Me, The Princess Bride, Misery, and A Few Good Men. His most recent film as director was 2017's Shock and Awe, and his most recent acting work came as Bob Day on the sitcom New Girl.

Tony Hendra - Ian Faith

A hallmark of rock and roll filmmaking is the long-suffering manager, and for Spinal Tap that roll fell to Ian Faith, who guided the band through every bump in the road on their U.S. tour throughout the film, right up until he's forced out over ordering an 18-inch model of Stonehenge for the band's performance of the song. The "Stonehenge" argument remains one of the highlights of the film, and cements Ian's constant attempts at spinning the band's troubles as one of the film's comedy hallmarks.

Tony Hendra has acted only sporadically throughout his comedy career, with other roles including appearances on Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Suits, and The Cosby Mysteries. He's been more prolific as a writer and producer, with credits including the British satire Spitting Image and the films The Big Bang and The Great White Hype. He's also an author, having worked on everything from from a history of black humor to a novel called The Messiah of Morris Avenue to a memoir about his own journey through faith titled Father Joe. Hendra also helped legendary comedian George Carlin to complete his memoir, Last Words, which was published in 2009.

Bruno Kirby - Tommy Pischedda

One of the great joys of This Is Spinal Tap is watching characters who basically only have one scene milk that scene for all its worth, creating comedy that endures in the minds of fans even beyond the main cast members. As limo driver Tommy Pischedda, Bruno Kirby managed to do that by simply trying to join the band's conversation with a story about the Rat Pack, only to turn on them and complain about their entitlement as soon as they shut him out. It's a brilliant moment of character acting that stands out even among the more outrageous scenes.

Kirby's screen acting career began in the 1970s with TV series like The Super and Room 222, and in the '80s he became one of the most recognizable character actors in film thanks to roles in Spinal Tap as well as Good Morning, Vietnam and When Harry Met Sally. He was also a key part of gangster movie history, thanks to important roles in The Godfather Part II and Donnie Brasco, among other films. He died in 2006 at the age of 57, from complications related to leukemia.

Ed Begley Jr. - John "Stumpy" Pepys

This Is Spinal Tap is a film absolutely packed with talent from top to bottom, to the point that you almost can't spot every major star in the film on first viewing. A few acting legends are in the film only for a moment, and you might not even realize it until you see it for a second time. That's the case with Ed Begley Jr., who appears in archive footage as the band's first drummer, John "Stumpy" Pepys, who "died in a bizarre gardening accident."

Ed Begley Jr.'s acting credits stretch back more than 50 years, and include more than 300 projects ranging from comedy to drama and everything in between. His 1970s credits include Mary Hartman, Mary HartmanRoll OutBattlestar Galactica; and much more. In the '80s he worked on everything from St. Elsewhere to The Magical World of Disney to the TV Movie The Ed Begley Jr. Show. Other credits include The West Wing, Six Feet Under, Veronica Mars, On Begley Street, Blunt Talk, Portlandia, Better Call Saul, Arrested Development, and much more.

Fran Drescher - Bobbi Flekman

As record executive Bobbi Flekman, Fran Drescher isn't in This Is Spinal Tap very long, but what she lacks in screen time she makes up for by being a key part of one of the funniest running gags in the film: the controversy over Spinal Tap's new album, Smell the Glove. Her ability to discuss the ridiculous cover image (which is never shown, only described) in detail in such an emphatic way without ever breaking is a testament to her comedic talent, and makes her one of the film's most memorable supporting players.

Drescher's screen acting debut was in Saturday Night Fever, nearly a decade before This Is Spinal Tap, and it proved to be an auspicious starting point for her career. In the '90s, she created and starred in the sitcom for which she's now most famous, The Nanny, and she's remained a TV powerhouse ever since. Drescher also created the series Happily Divorced in 2011, and continues to act regularly. She also remains active in charity work through her organization Cancer Schmancer, which she formed after her own cancer diagnosis and recovery.

Paul Shaffer - Artie Fufkin

Another great example of an actor who makes only a brief appearance in the film that goes a long way, Paul Shaffer pops up as Artie Fufkin from Polymer Records. He's supposed to be helping the band with their album launch by setting up a signing at a local record store. It doesn't go well, no one shows up, and Shaffer launches into a rant that ends with him turning his back to the band and demanding, "Kick my ass!"

Shaffer's screen acting debut was the TV series A Year at the Top in 1977, and his acting resume also includes providing the voice of Hermes for Disney's Hercules, voicing Dr. Hans Zarkov in the Flash Gordon TV series, and playing himself in everything from A Very Murray Christmas to an episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Shaffer is perhaps best known, though, as a musician and band director. He led the band on Late Night with David Letterman on NBC from 1982 to 1983, then followed Letterman over to The Late Show on CBS, where he led the CBS Orchestra from 1993 until Letterman's retirement in 2015. His newest project, debuting in the summer of 2019 on AXS TV, is his own musically-oriented interview and performance show, Paul Shaffer Plus One.