Rob Reiner Talks Origins of 'Spinal Tap' Sequel and Spoofing 'The Last Waltz' Again

Rob Reiner discussed the origins of the recently-announced This Is Spinal Tap sequel and how he’ll once again be drawing on The Last Waltz for inspiration while speaking with reporters at the Cannes Film Festival.

As Reiner told Variety, the project came about as he and the “members” of Spinal Tap — Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, and Christopher Guest — discussed the possibility of making an oral history of the sorta-faux metal band. “For half we’d be in character and talk about the band’s lives and how they came together and what they’ve been up to,” Reiner said. “In the other half we’d be ourselves and talk about the experience of making the film.” 

Through those discussions, the idea of a sequel started to seem more viable, with everyone agreeing there was enough material for a film. Reiner added that, like This Is Spinal Tap, the new movie won’t have a script and will be entirely improvised — though it will have a firm structure in place. That core will be modeled in part on The Last Waltz, Martin Scorsese’s classic about the Band’s final concerts, and just like the Band were joined on stage by their all-star peers, Reiner said he’s interested in enlisting various artists for the Spinal Tap sequel.

“The idea is that the band hasn’t seen each other for 10 or 15 years, and they come back for one more tour and one thing leads to another,” Reiner explained. “Once we get started, we’ll figure things out. We only had the barebones of an idea on the first movie.”

The Last Waltz, it should be noted, was already a pretty clear inspiration for This Is Spinal Tap, with Reiner’s director character Marty DiBergi modeled not-so-subtly after Scorsese. In a separate Cannes interview with The Associated Press, Reiner quipped, “Initially, Marty got mad [about the character]. But over the years, he’s come to love it. We did Wolf of Wall Street a few years ago and we talked about it. He said, ‘Ah, I love it. I love that you did that.’”

Reiner added of making the sequel in his AP interview, “The bar is high. There’s no question about it. And we wrestled with that forever, whether or not we should even bother to do it. But we had an idea. Over the years, people have come up and said, ‘Oh, you should do a sequel.’ We’ve always said, ‘No, no, no.’ But as time went by, we finally had something we think can work. And we’ll find out!”

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