The beloved actor discusses his new role, why people liked Frasier and what he thinks the new X-Men film is about
When you have been nominated for Emmy's on three different TV shows (Cheers, Frasier and a guest spot on Wings) playing the role of Frasier Crane, for Kelsey Grammer it's apparent that people like him as that character. It can also become difficult for the actor to be seen as anyone but that character. So it makes sense that he would take on roles that are completely the opposite of who the world and Hollywood think he is.
Witness Grammer's portrayal of Dr. Hank McCoy/Beast in the upcoming X-Men: The Last Stand. This third and possibly final installment of the series, gives us a Kelsey Grammer that is all but unrecognizable. During a recent roundtable discussion the actor spoke about playing Beast, Frasier and the themes of the new X-Men film.
THIS INTERVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS ABOUT THE FILM! READ WITH CAUTION...
What was it like playing this larger than life character?
Kelsey Grammer: Well, X-Men is an epic tale so the characters have epic proportions. If you know you're in an epic you just get bigger. They're just big people. There's an energy about it. There's a sense of size and importance about it that you lend yourself to and it's actually just playing dress up.
Were you warmly received as the new guy?
Kelsey Grammer: I think I've been warmly received. The cast was great. I have known Patrick, I did a Star Trek several centuries ago and Patrick was my boyfriend on Frasier; in the last season. It was wonderful to work with him, he's a terrific actor and we had a wonderful time doing that. So when I came to shoot X-Men, of course he's one of the first people I saw. I was embraced and warmly welcomed by everybody, and I think that's a testament to sort of the ensemble feel that exists in this particular film. A lot of that tone is set by Hugh, I think because he's a very warm, open guy. He loves the work but he also loves to watch other people work.
Can you talk about Beast?
Kelsey Grammer: Beast obviously has a lot of issues about his mutancy because he's so clearly mutant. He doesn't get away with integrating so easily into society. And of course has known what it's like to be normal or at least appear to be normal, because he's gone through this transition in his adult life. That was a good piece of information to get from the past. I didn't really study the comics. I didn't even know them. It's sort of like somebody who goes blind. Their memory is different than someone who never saw. Beast is particularly tortured.
How much of the fight scenes were really you?
Kelsey Grammer: It's about half and half. Most of the flying stuff is a man named Adrian who's just a terrific kid and he did a great job. Some of it's me. Fighting is fun for actors, it's something we learn to do. It's something you do at school. You get... knives, guns. I'm a boy and I'm a profound boy. It's still playing in the playground for me.
Are you gonna do any more voice over stuff?
Kelsey Grammer: Well, if they ask. Sideshow comes up every couple of years. He's very popular.
Do you see aspects of X-Men: The Last Stand relating to aspects of the government?
Kelsey Grammer: You can certainly apply that if you want to. If that's where you come from that's what you'll probably see. I figured the position of Secretary of Mutant Affairs is probably something that was politically expedient at the time. That everybody probably thought was more of a shell, basically, to garner votes. Hank took it seriously because it was an opportunity for Mutants to integrate into mainstream society. Of course once the cure comes up he has an obligation that no one had anticipated. So he's suddenly a lot more important than they ever wanted him to be, probably.
How closely do think this film comes to real life political issues?
Kelsey Grammer: My own take on it is that government will never adequately represent every person in the country. It can't. It's not possible. It's a multicultural, multifaceted society in which we live. The country, I think, thrives because it's willing to embrace many ideas at the same time, but once a decision is made you will be unpopular with many people. The business of our political leaders is to go ahead and make a decision and let the chips fall where they may. That's a very hard thing to do. But there come times when you do have to fight. When you have to stand up for something and I think the film, maybe, reflects on that.
At the end of the day I see this a good vs. evil movie. Is that your take on it?
Kelsey Grammer: That's pretty much the universal question isn't it? It's pretty basic. It is weird to think that life is that simple but unfortunately it is. Evil is very powerful and very strong; very sexy. Good is boring and cumbersome and it means you have to behave well. There's so many things that come along for the ride with good, that it's torturous almost. Nonetheless... balance. Somethings gotta take evil out because if evil wins we're all done.
What's your take on celebrities who take very public political stands?
Kelsey Grammer: My take is that it's okay as long as you have knowledge. How many celebrities do you know with a lot of knowledge? So, I don't encourage it. (Laughs)
Why do you think Frasier is such a popular show?
Kelsey Grammer: I think because, across the board, it talked about things that people recognized. Even though Frasier is not an everyman, necessarily, what he goes through is what every man goes through. What he went through. The relationship with his dad, the loss of his mother, the relationship with his brother. These are things we all know about if we've got them and we all have them so.... I think what made him likable was he always did it with a sense of style. He did it with a sense of hope all the time. He always got up after he was knocked down and I think that's something people find charming.
What are you hoping the audience takes home from X-Men: The Last Stand?
Kelsey Grammer: Oh gosh, I hope they take home a nice, entertaining event. I hope they are entertained by it. I hope they have fun. I hope they laugh, I hope they cry a little bit. I hope they care about the characters. I think that's the job of a movie. I don't know if we have a responsibility to resonate, in any accurate way, something for society to mull over. (Laughs) I'm not sure we're good enough to do that. If art is an important part of our lives, I think the most important part of art is to get people to ask questions. Not necessarily offer answers, because that's up to the individual. I would like to think we're not any more important than that.
How long did it take to make you blue?
Kelsey Grammer: About three hours. Or, just a rejection.
In finding the character of Beast, did you put on a costume and then just become him?
Kelsey Grammer: Not to torture it too much, it's play pretend. It depends on how quick you're good at that. You put a funny, blue mask on, boom! You're Beast. You put a tiara on, you're a queen. It's like putting on a different hat. If you have a skill at it, if you're childlike, your body changes, your physicality changes, all those things fall into play based upon what the mask is. Beast is great mask so...
What's up and coming for you?
Kelsey Grammer: Raising my family. Taking some time off. I directed a pilot this year, I don't know if it got on yet. I'll know in a few more days. We shot another show called The Game, which may or may not get on. It's kind of a spin-off from Girlfriends.
X-Men: The Last Stand hits theaters May 26th, 2006.
X-Men: The Last Stand was released May 26th, 2006 and stars Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Famke Janssen, Anna Paquin, Kelsey Grammer, James Marsden. The film is directed by Brett Ratner.