John Marwood Cleese is an English actor, comedian, screenwriter, and producer. Emerging from the Cambridge Footlights in the 1960s, he first achieved success at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and as a scriptwriter and performer on The Frost Report. In the late 1960s, he co-founded Monty Python, the comedy troupe responsible for the sketch show Monty Python's Flying Circus. Along with his Python co-stars Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin and Graham Chapman, Cleese starred in Monty Python films, which include Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), Life of Brian (1979) and The Meaning of Life (1983).
In the mid-1970s, Cleese and first wife Connie Booth co-wrote the sitcom Fawlty Towers, and he starred in it as Basil Fawlty. The series resulted in Cleese's receiving the 1980 BAFTA for Best Entertainment Performance, and in 2000 the show topped the British Film Institute's list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes. In a 2001 Channel 4 poll, Basil was ranked second on its list of the 100 Greatest TV Characters. Cleese co-starred with Kevin Kline, Jamie Lee Curtis, and former Python colleague Michael Palin in A Fish Called Wanda (1989) and Fierce Creatures (1997), both of which he also wrote. For A Fish Called Wanda he was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. He has also starred in Time Bandits (1981) and Rat Race (2001) and has appeared in many other films, including Silverado (1985), Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994), two James Bond films (as R and Q), two Harry Potter films (as Nearly Headless Nick) and the last three Shrek films.