Lance Guest’s family lived on an 11 acre prune ranch in the then-rural Saratoga, Ca for most of the 1950’s. More than 10 years younger than his boomer siblings, Lance was born in 1960, when his father, a Navy fighter pilot, moved the family to a larger house with running water. At a young age, he was memorizing the comedy records of Bill Cosby, Stan Freberg, Allan Sherman, and Mel Brooks, as well as all the early 60’s Bob Dylan records. He learned to play guitar at age 10, and was performing plays in junior high school. At 15, his friend Michael Gurley asked him to join his garage band, Stillwater, for their first and only gig in the summer of 1975. He was cast in plays all throughout high school, his first being Nathan Detroit, and knowing nothing of New York, other than TV detectives, performed the entire role as Mel Brooks. He then trained in the summers at an intensive workshop created by former members of ACT in San Francisco. Planning to attend ACT and work at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, his acting teacher convinced him to attend college at UCLA instead.
After two years of back to back college theatre, and garnering the school’s Shakespeare award in 1980, Guest, upon discovering that they made films and TV shows in LA, made a plan to acquire an agent by his senior year, and moved out of the dorm and into a 2 bedroom apartment with 5 other roommates, including fellow students and future screenwriters Ed Solomon and Shane Black. He worked two part time jobs, attended UCLA, and began rehearsals for ” Transgressor”, an original play developed the previous year at school. Within weeks he had attended his first open call for the TV show “Fame”, and though not initially cast, received a call from an agent the next day inviting him to come in for a meeting. Guest was then sent out on auditions so much over the next few months that he had to quit UCLA by the end of fall term to pursue acting full time.
Within the next year, he had a recurring role on “Lou Grant”, a pilot, 2 screen tests, an after school special, some episodic TV, and a role opposite Jamie Lee Curtis in the horror cult classic “Halloween 2”. The Writer/producer of Halloween 2, John Carpenter, was going over the film before it’s release and Carpenter’s friend, Nick Castle, took note of the young actor, and remembered him for his current project in development, “Centauri’s Recruit”, later to be called. “The Last Starfighter”.
More television movies, recurring roles (St. Elsewhere) and small film roles followed, and Guest visited NYC for the first time. He came back to LA , inspired by the theater, and ready to move back east, when he was called in by Castle for what became “The Last Starfighter”. Principal photography was completed in the spring of 1983, a couple months shy of his 23rd birthday. He was then cast as the protagonist in “The Roommate”, an American Playhouse production, also starring Barry Miller and John Cameron Mitchell, based on a John Updike short story, which later won the grand prize at the LA Film Festival (1985). After wrapping “The Roommate”, Guest escaped to New York and lived there for the first half of 1984 seeking theatre roles. He was working at the Santa Fe Festival theatre when The Last Starfighter opened in July of 1984. He was then cast in a TV drunk driving cautionary tale with Val Kilmer, Mare Winningham, and Michele Pfeiffer. Back in LA, he turned down a couple of subsequent offers in favor of a $3MIL indie about bluegrass musicians in the Blue Ridge mountains. When that project fell apart, he starred in another TV movie,”My Father, My Rival” for HBO, alongside Wendy Crewson.
He was told that Starfighter reportedly made no money on it’s initial release, so he returned to the theatre, this time in LA for the West coast premiere of Chris Durang’s “Baby With the Bathwater” with Jennifer Tilly, which ran for 5 months at the Coronet Theatre. More regional theatre over the next year, “Key Exchange” with Anthony Edwards and Jennifer Beals, and “Look Homeward Angel” at Playmakers Rep in NC. Later that year he was offered the part of Michael Brody in 1987’s “Jaws: The Revenge.” with Michael Caine. Wrapping “Jaws” in July, he was then cast in what he calls his favorite film, “The Wizard of Loneliness”, a small WWII era piece about a 12 year old growing up in Vermont, with Lukas Haas, Lea Thompson, Dylan Baker and the late John Randolph.
Over the next decade, it was mostly TV, co-starring with Robert Loggia as FBI agents in the political thriller miniseries “Favorite Son”, a year as a bitter, ex-con photojournalist in “Knot’s Landing”, recurring on “Life Goes On” as an environmental metal-sculptor and street musician, McGoverns campaign manager on the ’72 election episode of ” The Wonder Years”, a computer geek, a fireman, a high school teacher, another sculptor, an enviro-terrorist in “The X-Files”, and back to the independent film “Plan B” with Jon Cryer, playing a regular-guy pilot who tries with his wife to conceive a child.
Guest has continued to work in LA small theatre developing strictly original works, as well as touring for two and a half years(’97-2000) with the satirical folk-group The Foremen, playing guitar and banjo. He also began planting vineyards in different locations in Northern California, and making wine.
A handful of indie films: a wrongfully defrocked priest in “The Least of These”, a gitmo-type interrogator in “Shadowbox”, a hippie political adviser in “Mach 2 “, a MASH type ER doctor in “21 and a Wake-Up” with Amy Acker, a recurring role as a no-nonsense Navy pilot on JAG, a couple of Disney Channel movies: one as wacky alien Cosmo Cola in “Stepsister from Planet Weird”, and chimp-adopting primatologist Hugo Archibald in “The Jenny Project”, episodic roles on” Becker”, “NYPD Blue”(’05),”House”,(’06) TV movie now called “Alibi”, starring Famke Jahnsen (’07) and a cynical journalist on “Jericho”.(’07)
After the birth of his, and partner Danna Hyams’ son Jack in 2004, Guest started preliminary readings and workshops for a new musical created by Floyd Mutrux about an historic 1956 reunion at Sun Records in Memphis of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis. Based on the actual jam session these four attended, and hosted by legendary producer Sam Phillips, “Million Dollar Quartet” had two full tryout productions in Daytona Beach(’06) and Issaquah, Wa. (’07) before moving to Chicago in 2008, where it still is running. The original production then moved to The Nederlander Theater on Broadway in March of 2010 and ran for 15 months (over 500 performances) before moving to the New World Stages Off-Broadway where it played for almost another year, closing in June of 2012.
Guest created the role of Johnny Cash and has been in all productions since it’s inception excluding London and now Las Vegas, choosing to stay in NY with his family rather than go out on the tour, which is set for it’s third incarnation. The unique aspect of this play is that all the actors play their own instruments; they ARE the orchestra, and the show features blockbuster renditions of rockabilly and traditional hits, covered by the four main characters. It also tells the story of Sam Phillips’ relationship to all the artists, and his particular contribution to pop culture and history in general. Guest received great reviews in particular as Cash, as well as a Distinguished Performance Award Nomination by the Drama League of New York. The show was also nominated for Best Musical in 2010.
Guest completed filming indie thriller “Late Phases” in June 2013.
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