There isn't much improvisation in film - there's virtually none. The people that theoretically could be good at this in a theater situation don't necessarily do this in a film in a way that will work, because it's much broader on a stage.
'This is Spinal Tap' was a film we felt really had to be done like that. It wouldn't have worked any other way. And it turned out to be the first time a fiction film had really been made in a documentary format. I continued to do that, obviously, because it's a fun way to work.
When I look back on what I've done, I think I'm drawn to obsession, perhaps.
My passion is more specific, in the sense that I've always liked doing comedy. I've always liked doing music. I like acting. And apparently, you need those things in movies.
I don't read anything about my movies before or after I do films, or any part of show business. I think that keeps me in a kind of place where I can do the work that I need to do.
To me, what I realized when we were doing 'Spinal Tap' - and the four of us wrote that - is, really, the core of that is the relationship with the two guys who grew up together and that strain when the girlfriend comes in. If that wasn't there, it's a very different movie. Then it's just bumbling guys stumbling along.
I was never in an improv group. But when I went to school, we would do it all day long with friends, not knowing what it was called.
I think fans are so brought up in a culture of rooting for a team since they were kids, ostensibly, and are blind to this idea that people might take offense.
I would make a huge distinction between theater improvisation and film improvisation.
The most important thing about my life is this integrity, and you can't lie to yourself.
In the kind of films that I do, there is an extremely limited number of people that can improvise. The reason the ensemble continues in the movies is because those are the people that can do that kind of work. It's not just an accident those people are in the film.
Folk musicians have a lot of the same self-importance, but they're way more cruel and jealous than rock musicians - I know this for a fact because I used to be a folk musician.
I'm a fly fisherman. I make flies. They're imitations of insects at different stages in their development.
It's dangerous talking about comedy; it gets to be very tedious and presumptuous.
Some instinct has told me I need to live in a world that isn't consumed with reading about myself or anyone else or someone's opinion about something. I need to be clear of that. It's just healthier for me. I feel happier.
When my daughter played volleyball in school, they were the Wildcats. Well, there are about a million Wildcats. Why don't you come up with another name?
When you hear someone talking in a restaurant or overhear someone talking on the street, there are very different patterns of conversation than you would hear in a conventional movie.
I went to Bard College for a year. And then, even though I didn't think I should give my blood to the theater, I did go to N.Y.U., which is where I met Michael McKean.
I don't know if I'd mastered that documentary format, but I wanted to move on from it.
I talk to people of different ages, and a guy who's 38 who says, 'I could've played Major League Baseball, but I had this knee injury...' Yeah, probably not. It's a big thing with men and sports, where they think they could have touched that thing.
I spent more time in America, but I developed a very English sense of humour. I clicked into it deeply with Peter Sellers, who is still probably my favourite comedian.
The main thing that's important to me is getting to do whatever project it is the way that I do what I do, and that's different. To go to an entity - whether it's a traditional film studio or some newer company, or HBO, Amazon or Netflix - they would have to know that I need to work the way I work.
I don't read about myself, and I don't read any magazine that has anything to do with movies or show business.
People who take themselves too seriously, who can't see anything else, are usually funny.
I've been fortunate. I get to write films. I get to write music in films. I get to play arenas wearing a wig.
I love being with my family and just being a regular person.
You know when you're young, you have this unbelievable stupidity and arrogance and ignorance all mixed in?
The movies have a way of seeping out there over time. We don't put them in 2,000 theaters. It wouldn't work that way.
What I'm doing in the work I do, I prefer not to just have a series of jokes. It's nice when audiences can connect with the characters as well.
When you've been a character in a movie - and this has happened when we've done concerts as Spinal Tap or as The Folksmen - people see you as characters walking out of a movie. And you appear in public, then, to play, it's a very schizophrenic thing.
I didn't go to film school. I had been an actor in movies, I had been in plays, and then I just sort of jumped into it.
You know it's important to have a Jeep in Los Angeles. That front wheel drive is crucial when it starts to snow on Rodeo Drive.
Comedy is like music. You have to know the key and you have to find players with good chops.
All these movies are observational comedies. I see somebody, maybe a dry cleaner, and notice how they are. Maybe I'll decide to turn a person with those traits into a studio chief.
It couldn't have been more nerdy or bizarre, playing the clarinet. But I studied classical clarinet, went to the high school for music and art in New York City, and then found the guitar and the mandolin after it.
Nothing is cut while I'm shooting. I edit between nine months and a year, and usually have around 80 hours of footage I have to get down to an 82-minute movie.
People want me to be funny all the time. They think I'm being funny no matter what I say or do and that's not the case.
I spent a lot of time in London when I was growing up and I've always picked up accents without even really meaning to. It used to get me into trouble as a child.
If you didn't know who I was, if I was to walk out on the street without people knowing who I am, you'd think I'm an accountant or a lawyer.
It's difficult to articulate how I know it's the right actor, but I do. It's instinct. Intuition.
I would overhear these conversations of people who show purebred dogs. They spoke about them as if they were their children.
There's something about that idea of looking up and hoping, and thinking, 'I'm good.' Some things, like show business, are absolutely subjective. People look at a TV show and think, 'I could do that.' And maybe they could do that. But they're not.
You can pick almost any field, and there's going to be weird people.