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Inside Jamie Lee Curtis' Marriage To Christopher Guest

The List 9/26/2022 Brent Furdyk
Christopher Guest, Jamie Lee Curtis © Greg Doherty/Getty Images Christopher Guest, Jamie Lee Curtis

Hollywood marriages have become notorious for their brevity and frequency. From Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, to Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, to Denise Richards and Charlie Sheen, celebrity marriages frequently end in divorce court, and many have become nasty. 

While acrimonious uncouplings tend to make headlines, there are certainly exceptions -- those celebrity couples who have enjoyed long, happy, drama-free marriages. At the top of that list are Jamie Lee Curtis and Christopher Guest, married since 1984 and parents of two grown children. Curtis has been a movie star for decades, headlining a dizzying array of genre-spanning movies ranging from the 1978 horror hit "Halloween" (and its multiple sequels), to the classic 1988 comedy "A Fish Called Wanda," to "True Lies" in 1994 with Arnold Schwarzenegger, to the 2019 whodunit "Knives Out." Meanwhile, Guest is known for a memorable single-season stint as a cast member on "Saturday Night Live," as well as his big-screen portrayals of dim-witted guitarist Nigel Tufnel in "This Is Spinal Tap" and wicked Count Rugen in "The Princess Bride" — and let's not forget his acting-directing work in acclaimed comedies such as "Best in Show," "A Mighty Wind," and "Waiting for Guffman." 

While Guest and Curtis continue to share their respective talents with the world, they've been low-key about their private life together as they prepare for to celebrate their fourth decade as spouses. To learn more about this intriguing couple, read on to discover the truth about Jamie Lee Curtis' marriage to Christopher Guest.

Jamie Lee Curtis Fell In Love With Chris Guest Before They Even Met

Christopher Guest and Jamie Lee Curtis © Vicki L. Miller/Shutterstock Christopher Guest and Jamie Lee Curtis

Back in 1984, Jamie Lee Curtis and a friend were flipping through "Rolling Stone" when she happened upon a photo of three men. As Curtis told Oprah.com, she pointed to one of them, sporting "a waggish smirk," and declared, "I'm going to marry that man." As it happened, her friend recognized the guy, informing Curtis he was Christopher Guest, who was then coasting on the acclaim from his role in the seminal mockumentary "This Is Spinal Tap." She called Guest's agent and left her number, along with a message telling him to call if he was interested. He didn't.

Several months later, Curtis was having dinner with friends at the Hollywood restaurant Hugo's when she spied Guest sitting at a nearby table. He waved to her, she waved back, and he left shortly after. The next day, he finally made the call. A few days later, she recalled, "Chris and I had our first date at Chianti Ristorante on Melrose." Within a few weeks, she added, "we'd fallen in love."

Speaking with The Guardian, Guest pointed out that there were actually two photos of him in that issue of "Rolling Stone," one of him costumed as his Spinal Tap character, the other just himself. He confirmed it was the photo of himself that piqued Curtis' attention, not the Nigel Tufnel shot. "That would be disturbing," he quipped. "I mean, it's crazy enough as it is."

Marrying Chris Guest Made Jamie Lee Curtis Part Of The British Aristocracy

Jamie Lee Curtis at the House of Lords © BBC News/YouTube Jamie Lee Curtis at the House of Lords

Jamie Lee Curtis has often been described as Hollywood royalty due to her famous parents, movie stars Tony Curtis ("Some Like It Hot") and Janet Leigh ("Psycho"). When she tied the knot with Christopher Guest, however, Curtis instantly became a member of the British aristocracy. That's because Guest, in addition to being a comedian, actor, and director, is also the beneficiary of a hereditary peerage. "I'm a baron," he told The Guardian. "I'm Lord Haden-Guest. And yes, that's a novelty. Born into it by accident, obviously. And then your dad dies and you're the next one." As a result, Curtis likewise received a posh title of her own: Lady Haden-Guest. 

Prior to then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair's 1997 reform, these hereditary peers — about 600 of them — were members of Parliament's House of Lords. This afforded Baron and Lady Haden-Guest the opportunity to attend the opening of Parliament in 1998, for the first and last time before the new legislation took effect. "I found it treacherous, because I was very concerned that I would ruin it for him," Curtis admitted of being seated in the House of Lords. "I was worried that my fame would somehow tarnish it for him, so I really tried to be decorous and not attract undue attention." As Curtis joked, she even wore a tiara for the occasion. "I am a respectable girl, after all," she quipped.

A Simple Secret Has Kept Their Marriage Together

Christopher Guest and Jamie Lee Curtis © Duffy-marie Arnoult/Getty Images Christopher Guest and Jamie Lee Curtis

When discussing her marriage to Christopher Guest, Jamie Lee Curtis has tended to be circumspect. She made that abundantly clear in an essay she wrote for Oprah.com. "Chris and I have a wonderful, complicated, imperfect life. And a very real marriage," she explained.

As for how she and Guest have managed to remain married for more than 30 years when so many of their Hollywood peers have not, it's clear that her own views on matrimony were shaped by experiencing the tumultuous marriage and scandalous divorce of her movie-star parents, Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, when she was just a child. During a 2015 conversation with "Today," Curtis shared the surprisingly simple secret that has kept her and Guest together for all of those decades. "Don't get divorced," she said. "It's a fascinating thing. I could write a book on marriage called 'Don't Leave.'"

She reiterated her "don't leave" philosophy when the two appeared together for a JLGB Virtual event. "That's really it — two words. Because you will want to," she said, as reported by Hello! magazine. "If you're telling me anybody who's married for a long time hasn't thought 'I hate them, I want out,' of course they have!" She compared marriage to a bus trip; ultimately, she explained, "if you stay on the bus long enough, the scenery will change."

Jamie Lee Curtis And Chris Guest Adopted Two Children

Jamie Lee Curtis and daughter Annie © Brenda Chase/Getty Images Jamie Lee Curtis and daughter Annie

After getting married, Jamie Lee Curtis and Christopher Guest decided to start a family. Fertility issues inspired the couple to adopt. Speaking with People, Curtis said that adopting her daughter Annie, then 8, was "the most profound, nondescribable event of my life." The couple subsequently adopted a second child, Ruby, who came out as transgender in 2020.

Adoption, as Curtis candidly explained in an interview with Pact's Point of View, "was the only way for us to have a family. People who adopt who are fertile have a more difficult decision than when you have no other option." While they adopted Annie after she was born, she and Guest were part of their second child's birth. "I was able to participate, cut [Ruby's] cord, be the first person to hold [the baby]," Curtis recalled, noting that her infant child "was home sleeping next to me the next day."

Her experience with adoption ultimately led Curtis to write a children's book, "Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born." "Christopher and I read to the children every night and I was getting tired of the children's books I was reading," she explained of the impetus behind writing it. Promoting the book on National Adoption Day in 2017, she tweeted, "Adoption is a sacred exchange, filled with joy & sorrow. Like all child rearing, it is a journey."

Chris Guest's Nickname For Jamie Lee Curtis Has A Hilarious Origin

Christopher Guest and Jamie Lee Curtis © Chris Weeks/Getty Images Christopher Guest and Jamie Lee Curtis

One key factor in the longevity of Jamie Lee Curtis' marriage to Christopher Guest has been humor. That was clear in an anecdote that Curtis shared during a 2021 appearance on "The Late Late Show with James Corden."

It all started with a discussion of her name, with Curtis revealing that she initially called herself "Jamie Curtis" when she first started out as an actor, because she thought it "felt a little pretentious" to become what she jokingly referred to as "a three-name person." 

At one point when she was younger, she revealed, she asked her parents to call her "Janie" because she felt Jamie sounded like a name more suited to a boy. That, however, only lasted a week or so. When she told Guest that story, it clearly resonated with him. "My husband will — in moments of great intimacy, when you are not trying to laugh, if you know what I mean — when are you going for something else, Christopher will look at me and say, 'Oh, Janie,'" she shared.

Chris Guest Makes Jamie Lee Curtis Feel Safe

Jamie Lee Curtis and Christopher Guest © Carlo Allegri/Getty Images Jamie Lee Curtis and Christopher Guest

Interviewed by AARP, Jamie Curtis opened up about the nature of her marriage to Christopher Guest. Describing herself as "a deep, serious romantic," and her husband Guest as her "one and only," she also insisted that their relationship is rooted in the everyday, not "big delusions of grandeur." In fact, she revealed that to mark their 35th wedding anniversary, she composed a celebratory song for him. "I feel safe when I drive up and see that you are home," she sang in its chorus.

The song, she explained, illustrates both the length and depth of their union. "That's the long marriage," she shared. "It's the safety of knowing his car is in the garage, that I'm not alone, and that he's here."

In a different interview with Good Housekeeping, Curtis also touched on why she tends not to share too much about her husband and their relationship. "He doesn't like it when I talk about him, and I don't blame him," she said. "It's a marriage — the only one I have, and the only one I ever will have."

Here's How They Came To Find Their Hollywood Abode

Jamie and Christopher at H20 premiere © Featureflash Photo Agency/Shutterstock Jamie and Christopher at H20 premiere

Jamie Lee Curtis and husband Christopher Guest have lived in the same home since the early 1990s, a Spanish Colonial Revival in Los Angeles originally built in the 1920s. As the couple revealed in a 2002 interview with Architectural Digest, they'd been shopping around for a place but had very different styles when it came to house-hunting. "I'm one of those impulsive people — I believe that I can make almost any place lovely; I can make it a home," said Curtis, noting that her husband's first instinct is one of disapproval. 

When they first saw the house that would eventually become their home, Guest took a unique approach to checking it out. Rather than going inside, he climbed atop a hill overlooking the place and peered down at it from above. Before taking even a single step through the front door, he decided they'd found the right place; he told her they should buy it on the spot. "It felt like a parklike setting," he explained. "I was happy with that."

Of course, it's also important to remember that Curtis and Guest are wealthy Hollywood celebrities. That came into play in 2016, reported the Los Angeles Times, when they purchased their next-door neighbor's house for a not inconsiderable $2.2 million, reportedly to ensure their privacy.

They Worked Together To Renovate Their Home

Christopher Guest and Jamie Lee Curtis © Chris Weeks/Getty Images Christopher Guest and Jamie Lee Curtis

Once Jamie Lee Curtis and Christopher Guest found their dream home, they quickly realized some changes were in order. As the couple told Architectural Digest, the home had gone without updates since its construction in 1929, and was designed for a very different kind of lifestyle than the couple envisioned. "It was an 'Upstairs Downstairs' kind of house," Curtis recalled. "It was designed for live-in help. It was very much a house for people to be served in." Her goal, she explained, "was to bridge something old and tired with a much more contemporary aesthetic, which is the way we live."

The couple enlisted the services of architect Michael B. Lehrer for a major renovation, and then another update six years later. While Curtis worked closely with an interior designer, she was very hands-on throughout the process. "There's nothing here that I haven't actually touched, fretted, and agonized over," she declared. "There's not one piece that I didn't go out and buy or that I can't tell you a story about."

Even after those dual renovations, the spouses seemed to have differing views on how much work was yet to be done. "I can now proudly say that I'm finished with this house forever," Curtis told AD. Guest, on the other hand, described their home as "a work in progress. This house is going to keep living."

Jamie Lee Curtis And Christopher Guest Are Complete Opposites

Christopher and Jamie at Tribeca Film Festival © Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images Christopher and Jamie at Tribeca Film Festival

That old adage about opposites attracting definitely applies to Jamie Lee Curtis and husband Christopher Guest. "My husband and I are very different," Curtis conceded during an interview with Good Housekeeping. That's something they jokingly referenced in the name of the company they co-own, Syzygy Industries. Syzygy, Curtis explained, "can mean a pair of opposites. And that's exactly what we are. Yet there is obviously a very strong pull toward each other." As she confirmed in a different interview with Good Housekeeping, she and Guest "are opposites. We have been for 33 years, and we always will be. He's an intellectual, and I was from the movie star/alcoholic/drug addict side, where ­education was not the most important thing."

Given their differences, Curtis admitted that finding "shared interests" has been a "challenge" throughout their marriage. "We don't listen to the same radio station, we don't read the same paper, we don't go to bed at the same time," she shared.

Yet the years they've spent together have allowed them to develop a deeper appreciation of each other, despite — or probably because of — those differences. "At this point, we accept who we each are, and there is a lot of respect for the other person," she said, noting that "there's nobody funnier in the world than my husband," describing him as "a very quiet guy with a lot of integrity."

Jamie Officiated Her Daughter's Cosplay Wedding

Jamie with daughter Ruby and wife Kynthia © Jamie Lee Curtis/Instagram Jamie with daughter Ruby and wife Kynthia

In 2022, Jamie Lee Curtis stepped into a whole new role when her daughter Ruby got married to partner Kynthia in the backyard of the home she shares with husband Christopher Guest. Not only did she host the wedding, but she also officiated the nuptials. She shared the news in an Instagram post, which she captioned, "WIFE IS SWEET!" 

During an earlier appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live," Curtis revealed that in addition to officiating the ceremony, she would be doing it costumed as a character from the video game "World of Warcraft." That was because the wedding had a cosplay theme, with everyone in attendance costumed as their favorite characters from video games, TV, movies, or comic books. "It is a cosplay wedding," she explained. "That means you wear a costume, you dress up as something ... So everybody at the wedding is going to be in costume, and I will be in a costume to officiate the wedding."

Jamie Lee Curtis Admits Her Marriage To Chris Guest Hasn't Been Easy

Jamie Lee Curtis and Christopher Guest © Kevin Winter/Getty Images Jamie Lee Curtis and Christopher Guest

Jamie Lee Curtis' marriage to Christopher Guest did not get off to a storybook start. As she recalled in a 1991 interview with People, shortly after they tied the knot, he relocated to New York City to become a cast member on "Saturday Night Live" for the 1984-1985 season. Meanwhile, she remained in Los Angeles to shoot the film "Perfect" alongside John Travolta. "I don't think we have an easy marriage," she admitted. "We have a difficult, but successful, marriage."

More than 30 years later, she shared her somewhat pragmatic view on marriage during an interview with Good Housekeeping. "I'm not a wild romantic," Curtis said. "I'm a realist. I respect him. And I just don't leave."

To mark their 36th wedding anniversary in 2020, Curtis took to Instagram to share a black-and-white photo of the couple in their younger years. "One of the longest relationships I've had seeking comfort and contact and connection is with Chris," she wrote in the caption. "Then and now. Connected through our children and family and friends, it became the links in our human emotional chain that have seen each of us through triumph and tragedy."

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