15 Trivia Tidbits About Chris Elliott on His Birthday
Whether you’re a fan of Cabin Boy, Schitt’s Creek or 1990s chip commercials, plenty of people love Chris Elliott. Well, today happens to be Elliott’s 63rd birthday, and since we still haven’t received an invitation to his party, we’ve decided to celebrate instead by assembling some trivia about Hollywood’s fifth-most successful Chris, starting with…
His Father Was Comedian Bob Elliott
While no one cared about tracking nepo babies back when Elliott first became famous, his dad was none other than Bob Elliott, one half of the comedy duo Bob and Ray. The pair may not be too well-known today, but their act spanned decades, beginning in radio and later extending into their own television show — and keep in mind this was back when there were only, like, three TV shows in existence. They even won a Peabody Award in 1956.
He Began His Career as a P.A. on ‘Late Night with David Letterman’
Elliott first met Letterman while working at the admission booth for the observation deck at Rockefeller Center. Elliott teased the recently-fired morning show host and impressed him by revealing that he was the son of Bob Elliott. When Late Night with David Letterman got going, Elliott got a job as a runner, which mainly involved “fetching lunches and making photocopies.” Soon he became a regular part of the show, appearing on camera as various wacky characters.
He Made a Short Film Starring George Takei
For Letterman’s 2nd Annual Holiday Film Festival, Elliott made a short movie, “Chris Elliott: Television Miracle,” in which host George Takei reveals that “Chris Elliott” is really a sophisticated automaton voiced by Don King.
He Appeared in a Low-Budget, Pre-’Spaceballs’ Parody of ‘Star Wars’
Years before Spaceballs, Elliott played a UFO expert in the low-budget Star Wars parody Hyperspace, aka Gremloids. According to Elliott (who never actually saw the movie), “The director called Letterman, had seen me on the show, said he was a huge fan and asked me to be in it, and I said sure.” You can watch the whole movie on YouTube because no one’s going to bat for the copyright to Gremloids.
He Auditioned for ‘The Abyss’ Because of a Writers’ Strike
Elliott has a small role in James Cameron’s sci-fi movie/behind-the-scenes torture-fest The Abyss. He auditioned for the role purely because there was a writers’ strike at the time, but he didn’t get the part. Still, Cameron liked him and invited Elliott to the set, then literally wrote a character for him on a yellow legal pad as they were filming.
He Starred in a One-Man Show About FDR
In 1987, Elliott starred in a one-man show about FDR, appropriately-titled FDR: A One Man Show — despite the fact that he doesn’t actually look or sound anything like the former president. Lampooning PBS fare, Elliott’s FDR gets in gun fights, is lost at sea and eventually ends the show with Gallagher’s watermelon-smashing routine.
He Had a Brief Part in a Hannibal Lecter Movie
Elliott had a small role in Michael Mann’s Manhunter, the very first Hannibal Lecter (or, technically, “Lecktor”) movie from 1986, playing FBI agent Zeller.
His Sitcom’s Writing Staff Included Charlie Kaufman and Bob Odenkirk
In 1990, Elliott co-created and starred in the gloriously bizarre Fox sitcom Get a Life, about a manchild paperboy. While the show only lasted for two seasons, it notably featured writing contributions from Charlie Kaufman and Bob Odenkirk and developed a cult following. Elliott said of the series: “Probably the most fun I’ve ever had, actually, acting… When I look back on all my work, it was probably the best possible incarnation of Chris Elliott, of me. Of what I can do. I look back on that actually as my finest work.”
‘Cabin Boy’ Only Exists Because Tim Burton Was a Fan of ‘Get a Life’
One of Get a Life’s fans was director Tim Burton, who liked the show so much that he met with Elliott, expressing his desire to “do a Pee-wee’s Big Adventure for the ’90s.” This resulted in Cabin Boy, which Burton executive produced. “If there hadn’t been Get a Life, there wouldn’t be Cabin Boy,” said director Adam Resnick.
Elliott Was Nominated for a Razzie For ‘Cabin Boy’ Because the Razzies Are Dumb
Cabin Boy was a box-office flop but is arguably a very funny movie that has since found its audience over the years. Elliott was nominated for a Razzie Award for Worst New Star because the Razzie Awards are dumb and should probably just go away forever. Cabin Boy did get a shout-out at the Oscars… as the butt of a joke, a “Cabin Boy Auditions” segment directed by Resnick as a favor to Letterman (who made his “big screen debut” in the movie).
He Turned Down ‘SNL’ Years Before He Became a Cast Member
Elliott joined the cast of Saturday Night Live in 1994, but he’d previously been offered a spot on SNL, alongside cast members Anthony Michael Hall and Robert Downey Jr., during the Lorne Michaels-less years. But amazingly, he refused what was once his dream job. “I turned it down because Dave was giving me my own spot, my own show on Late Night,” Elliott explained, “so I didn’t think it made sense.”
He Made a Ton of Tostitos Commercials
If you saw a Tostitos commercial in the 1990s, there was a very good chance it featured Elliott weirding out strangers.
He Took Home a Prosthetic Hand From the Set of ‘Scary Movie 2’
Elliott played the creepy butler in Scary Movie 2, a role that required wearing a prosthetic hand. He later admitted to Entertainment Weekly that he kept one of the props as a souvenir: “I think there were five little hands, and I did get to keep one. It’s on a bookshelf.”
He Joked Around a Lot on the Set of ‘Schitt’s Creek’
Elliott played Mayor Roland Schitt on the popular Canadian sitcom Schitt’s Creek, and according to actress Emily Hampshire, he had a running joke with the crew: “Every time they would say ‘Rolling,’ he would be like, ‘Roland?!’ Imagine six years of every time they say, ‘Rolling!’”
His Whole Family Made a Horror Movie
In 2018, Elliott co-starred in Clara’s Ghost, a horror-comedy directed by his daughter Bridey Elliott, which also featured his wife Paula Elliott and their other daughter, former SNL cast member Abby Elliott. Oh, and Haley Joel Osment, who, as far as we know, isn’t actually part of the Elliott family.
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