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The Movie Alan Cumming Has 'Seen A Million Times'

Christopher Guest's Waiting For Guffman (The Kobal Collection)

The weekends on All Things Considered series Movies I've Seen A Million Times features filmmakers, actors, writers and directors talking about the movies that they never get tired of watching.

For actor Alan Cumming, whose credits include Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion, X2, The Good Wife and Any Day Now — currently playing in theaters — the movie he could watch a million times is Christopher Guest's Waiting for Guffman.


Interview Highlights

On why Waiting for Guffman is more than just a comedy

"You absolutely feel for Corky and these other characters. You think, they really do believe that they're going to Broadway. And the shock of realizing that's not going to happen is so awful for them and you completely are there with them, even though you know they're insane to believe it."

On his love for the actors in the movie

"The people in this film, I have gushed to in a really, like a fan-crazy way, in the way that people do it to me and I kind of think: 'Imagine behaving like that.' And I've done it to them. I did it to Eugene Levy, I did it to Fred Willard. Um, I've never met Christopher Guest. I don't know if I could handle it."

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Alan Cumming's Favorite Scene From 'Waiting For Guffman'
Transcript

JACKI LYDEN, HOST:

On this show, we've been asking filmmakers about the movies they never get tired of watching, including this one from one of the stars of the TV show "The Good Wife."

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "WAITING FOR GUFFMAN")

CHRISTOPHER GUEST: (as Corky St. Clair) (Singing) When I see lips waiting to be kissed...

ALAN CUMMING: I'm Alan Cumming. I'm an actor. And the movie that I would watch a million times is "Waiting for Guffman." It's written by Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy. It's directed by Christopher Guest and it stars a cornucopia of genius actors.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "WAITING FOR GUFFMAN")

GUEST: (as Corky St. Clair) (Singing) ...again and again and again...

CUMMING: It's about a little town in Missouri - except they say Missouri - called Blaine...

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "WAITING FOR GUFFMAN")

GUEST: (as Corky St. Clair) There's an old saying in Missouri that if you don't like the weather, just wait five minutes. In Blaine, I honestly believe with hard work, we can get that done in three or four minutes.

CUMMING: And they are having their 150th anniversary. That's - I can't even say it.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "WAITING FOR GUFFMAN")

EUGENE LEVY: (as Dr. Allan Pearl) Here in our sesquicentennial year, we've got a lot to talk about. There's a...

CUMMING: And to celebrate, they decide to put on a show about the history of Blaine. Recently moved back from his heydays in New York to Blaine is a character called Corky St. Clair who has revitalized the town's amateur dramatic world.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "WAITING FOR GUFFMAN")

GUEST: (as Corky St. Clair) My production on stage of "Backdraft" was what really got them excited.

CUMMING: And he takes on the responsibility of producing the show, which will be the showcase of the celebrations.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "WAITING FOR GUFFMAN")

GUEST: (as Corky St. Clair) (Singing) By the pool, in the schools, by the fire of yule...

CUMMING: At one point, Corky sends out some letters to various people and producers and agent and a kind of a foundation in New York writes back and says they're going to send one of their representatives.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "WAITING FOR GUFFMAN")

GUEST: (as Corky St. Clair) The Oppenheimer organization is delighted to inform you that it will be sending a representative, Mr. Mort Guffman...

CUMMING: That letter is misinterpreted by Corky and the members of the cast of the show that they will be going to Broadway.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "WAITING FOR GUFFMAN")

GUEST: (as Corky St. Clair) What it means is we may be going to Broadway.

CUMMING: And so...

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "WAITING FOR GUFFMAN")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (as Character) Praise you.

CUMMING: And then, of course, the title refers to the fact that Mr. Guffman doesn't turn up.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "WAITING FOR GUFFMAN")

GUEST: (as Corky St. Clair) Snowstorm in New York. All flights canceled, Mort Guffman.

CUMMING: You absolutely feel for Corky and for these other characters. You think - they really do believe they're going to Broadway. And the shock of realizing that's not going to happen is so awful for them. And you completely are there for them, even though you know they're insane to believe it.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "WAITING FOR GUFFMAN")

LEVY: (as Dr. Allan Pearl) Well, we've been coming here for many, many years.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (as Character) Oh, yeah.

CUMMING: The two, sort of, musical theater stars of the time are played by Fred Willard and Catherine O'Hara. Hilarious and brilliant performers. And there's a scene when they go to dinner with the newbie to the group played by Eugene Levy - who's the dentist - and his wife, and they go to this Chinese restaurant and hilarity ensues. That's all I can say.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "WAITING FOR GUFFMAN")

CATHERINE O'HARA: (as Sheila Albertson) Any kind of food in Blaine, you don't - you know you get Chinese here.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (as Character) No need to go...

FRED WILLARD: (as Ron Albertson) We're talking about Miami now, dear.

O'HARA: (as Sheila Albertson) Like there aren't any Chinese people in Miami.

WILLARD: (as Ron Albertson) What does that have to do with - of course, there are Chinese people in Miami.

O'HARA: (as Sheila Albertson) Yeah, we're talking about China now.

WILLARD: (as Ron Albertson) I'm talking about...

CUMMING: The people in this film, I have gushed to in a - really like a fan, crazy way, in the way that people do it to me. And I kind of think imagine behaving like that. And I do - I've done it to them. I did it to Eugene Levy. I did it to Fred Willard. I've never met Christopher Guest. I don't know if I could handle it.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "WAITING FOR GUFFMAN")

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Singing) Grab your fellas by the hand...

LYDEN: That's the Scottish actor Alan Cumming talking about the movie that he could watch a million times, Christopher Guest's "Waiting for Guffman." Cumming's new film, "Any Day Now," is currently in theaters. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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