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The Full Monty

John Cleese on James Bond and ''Shrek 2'' -- The busy ''Monty Python'' vet talks about the next Bond movie, a new Bond videogame, and playing Princess Fiona's dad

John Cleese | IF THERE'S A 'WILL' Cleese wears many hats
Image credit: John Cleese: Nina Prommer/Globe Photos
IF THERE'S A 'WILL' Cleese wears many hats

John Cleese, it seems, can be funny anywhere -- even in your Xbox. His digital doppelganger gets laughs as the wisecracking gadget guru Q in ''James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing,'' a lavish new video game that also stars Pierce Brosnan and Heidi Klum. And Cleese recently returned to ''Will & Grace'' in his role as the lecherous father of Megan Mullally's late ex-husband's mistress (got that?). Meanwhile, he'll further test his voiceover skills as Princess Fiona's dad in this summer's ''Shrek 2.''

Is this your first videogame?
I did the last James Bond game, but only the voice. This time I had these strange panning things I wore around my head that then somehow reproduced me electronically later on, in a very recognizable form. It's a bit like having a CAT scan [laughs]. I did quite a lot of voice stuff, because there are so many possible situations for the player who's pretending to be Bond. It's a venture comparable to a feature film.

You don't strike me as a videogame fan.
I used to love them 20 years ago, when my daughter, who's now in her 30s, was young enough to be interested in them. We used to play a few rather primitive games together -- this tank game, I think it was called ''Combat'' [for the Atari 2600]. Then, just as with videocassette recorders, eventually engineers managed to produce one that was too complex for someone like me to use [laughs].

Isn't there a Monty Python game?
There is a very, very good one based on ''The Holy Grail''; it won a lot of awards. I think there's also one based on ''The Meaning of Life.''

In that one, you get to feed the fat guy, right?
[Laughs] That's right -- feed him wafer-thin mints until he explodes.

Any dirt on the next Bond movie?
No, I don't get involved until the pages for my scenes with [Brosnan] start arriving on the fax machine.

So you can't confirm that the next Bond girl will be Britney Spears?
I'd not a heard a word about it. Is that the rumor?

Yes. And if it's true, shouldn't she really be Q's love interest?
That's what I think! The Bond franchise focuses too much on the Bond girls, and not enough on the Q girls.

It must be fun working on ''Shrek 2''…
I think it's funnier than the first one. I've been doing it for a year, in a lot of different sessions. The filmmakers are completely obsessive. They'll sometimes re-record a scene two or three times, like this one scene I have with [Antonio] Banderas. One minute I'm talking to him through an open door, and the next time the door is closed and I'm trying to whisper through that. They play with tiny changes like that just to see what's best.

What else is coming up for you?
I've done a documentary about the California wine business, which will be on the Food Channel in September, and I'm writing a script about cavemen for the DreamWorks people. It's going to be animated by Aardman Animation, who did ''Chicken Run'' and ''Wallace and Gromit.'' That is going to be really fun.

Originally posted Feb 27, 2004
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