by Hans ten Cate
Wednesday, 12 February 1997

John Cleese got to shoot his daughter, Cynthia Cleese, in the new film Fierce Creatures. With a gun, you ask? Well, almost... but what we actually meant was that she is in the movie Fierce Creatures. Cynthia plays a supporting role in the film as Pip, the small mammals keeper at the Marwood zoo.

Cynthia (25) is John Cleese's real-life daughter and gets to make her second big film appearance with Fierce Creatures. Her first film was A Fish Called Wanda, where she played Portia Leach, the pretentious and spoiled daughter to John Cleese's Archie Leach. In the Wanda credits, Cynthia used her grandmother's maiden name, Caylor. Explains father Cleese, "I didn't want Cynthia started in acting with the name Cleese because there'd be such expectations." This time, however, Cynthia bore the surname of her proud father. Look for it in the end credits.

Lovely Cynthia is also daughter to Connie Booth (Cleese's first wife, who co-wrote and co-starred with John in the well-known Fawlty Towers situation comedy series). In Fierce Creatures, Cynthia Cleese, with her short blonde hair and piercing blue eyes, is the spitting image of her mother. She has also apparently picked up some of her parents' acting talents. By 16, Cynthia had appeared in school plays and British television commercials. No word yet on future film roles, but she may have had enough of acting for some time. In a recent interview with People Weekly, Cynthia confessed that after filming Fierce Creatures, "...I felt kind of burned out. I thought, 'Maybe I want to try something else.'... I will never be, or have any desire to be, a big star."

Moreover, Cynthia is six months pregnant. She and husband Ed Solomon (36), a screenwriter, were married in 1995 and are now expecting their first son (and, as Kim "Howard" Johnson points out, the very first Python grandchild!). Cynthia would rather focus on family life for now. In particular, she doesn't want her son to have the life she knew as the only child of busy parents. "I don't have memories that ramble on about when we would go to the country and fish or something. We just didn't do that."

The divorce of John Cleese and Connie Booth in 1978 was not easy on Cynthia, although she confesses that it taught her a lot about life. "I realized that the things that make you develop most as a person are the things that are most dramatic in your life. I now believe that the fact that my parents were divorced might actually have been a good thing, because... it brought me close to both of them, rather than just my dad. I don't know if that would have happened had they stayed together." Cynthia was of course present at the Los Angeles premiere on January 16 with the grandparents-to-be, father John Cleese and stepmother, Alyce Faye.


  • Jonathan Margolis, Cleese Encounters: The Unauthorized Biography of Monty Python Veteran John Cleese, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1992.
  • Calvin Baker & Michelle Keller, "Going Her Way: John Cleese's Kid Prefers Family to Flying Circuses," in People Weekly, February 3, 1997, pp. 63-64.