‘Waiting for Guffman’ at 25: Parker Posey recalls ‘sobbing in the van’ on her last day

American Age Official

To hear Parker Posey tell it, the way she ended up as part of Christopher Guest’s go-to gang of actors for 20-plus years is a pretty typical tale of Hollywood who-knows-who connections.

Posey had a tiny role in the 1993 Saturday Night Live spinoff The Coneheads, but did enough to impress producer Lorne Michaels — so much that the SNL chief recommended the young performer to Guest and his producer Karen Michaels when they were looking for an actress who could play 18 years old and improvise. Posey traveled from New York to Los Angeles to audition for a recurring part in the sitcom Murphy Brown, which she didn’t land — but on her trip she met Guest, who soon cast her in his 1997 comedy Waiting for Guffman.

Released in theaters 25 years ago Monday, though, Guffman was anything but a typical Hollywood project. The film, about a Missouri community theater group preparing a stage play for their town’s 150th anniversary, introduced the world to a new subgenre: the “Christopher Guest movie,” a fully improvised comedy featuring an ensemble’s eccentrics colliding over their left-field passion.

“There was such a commitment level to Chris Guest movies, where you really get to live the part in your own language, since it’s all improvised,” Posey told Yahoo Entertainment during a 2016 Role Recall interview (watch above, with Guffman beginning at 2:33).

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In addition to Spinal Tap alum Guest as theater group leader Corky St. Clair and Posey as the perky Dairy Queen worker-turned-local actor Libby Mae Brown, Guffman also starred Fred Willard, Catherine O’Hara, Eugene Levy, Lewis Arquette, Matt Keeslar and Bob Balaban.

Posey immediately fell in love with Guest’s process and the collective of characters that the cast had created, so much that she found herself harshly affected when it came time to wrap the film.

“I was devastated on the last day,” she said. “I was like, ‘Oh my god, I’ll never see these people again. I’ll never see Corky.’ I was sobbing in the van… And then Chris took my hand and held it.”

While it’s true that we wouldn’t see most of those characters ever again, she would regularly reunite with many of the same cast members who played them in Guest’s four follow-ups: Best in Show (2000), A Mighty Wind (2003), For Your Consideration (2006) and Mascots (2016).

And she was wrong about never seeing Corky again. Guest revived him for a cameo in Mascots.

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