MiNDFOOD Interview: Kelsey Grammer
MiNDFOOD Interview: Kelsey Grammer
American actor, voice actor, comedian, producer, director, writer, singer and activist … (phew!), Kelsey Grammer is best known for his 20-year portrayal of Dr. Frasier Crane on sitcoms Cheers and Frasier. In a deviation from character, he recently starred in Transformers: Age of Extinction. We talk to the star about his new role and what’s next.
Q: We’ve seen you in TV sitcoms and dramas, on Broadway and different movie genres. What’s it like to be on a film like Transformers: Age of Extinction?
A: I loved it. I’m a real geek and fan when it comes to Transformers. I remember being at my first rehearsal for this film and I looked over and saw the tractor trailer. I was thinking to myself ‘Oh my. That’s Optimus Prime’ (laughs). I found it very hard to control my excitement.
Q: That’s hilarious.
A: I know. I’m a fan. I’m a geek. I actually went looking for the role.
Q: Really? You picked up the phone and called Michael Bay?
A: Not me (laughs). No, I heard they were making another Transformers so I spoke to my agent and he thought it would be a good idea so he got in contact with Michael. Michael was aware of my work in comedy so my agent sent him a clip of my TV series Boss. Michael liked it and I met up with him about a week later to speak about the role.
Q: Being such a Transformers fan, I can’t imagine how excited you were when you walked on to the actual set for the first time. What was going through your head?
A: A lot. The scale of a Michael Bay film is legendary, but when you walk on it is incredible. This movie is an epic. That is why Transformers films are so successful. The audience knows when it goes to watch a Transformers movie they will get value for their money. Michael Bay is a genius and a master of these huge films.
Q: You’ve worked with a lot of great directors over the years. What was your relationship like with Michael?
A: We worked really well together. There was a lot of collaboration and I really valued that. Michael’s unique (laughs). When he’s on the Transformers set, he’s like a kid in the world’s biggest toy store. He bubbles with enthusiasm. He is heavily involved in everything on the set and has the whole movie in his head.
Q: Can you describe the character you play?
A: Sure. I play Harold Attinger. He works for the CIA and hunts down Autobots and Decepticons. He is no-nonsense. His job is to protect the US and to protect the planet and he takes that extremely seriously. He sees the robots as a danger, a scourge to humankind. When the Autobots and Decepticons fight, cities are destroyed and innocent people are killed. He wants to stop that.
Q: Is Attinger a good guy or a bad guy?
A: It’s an interesting question. He walks a fine line. He thinks he’s a good guy. He can justify what he does. Others may see him as the villain. He has a job to do and does it, although his ego does corrupt him.
Q: What’s more fun? Playing a good guy or a villain?
A: I enjoy playing the villain (laughs). It’s fun. When he does things that are particularly bad it’s very enjoyable (laughs).
Q: What’s it like acting in a scene with a huge transformer? It’s a little different to doing a scene in Frasier.
A: (Laughs) It sure is. It’s interesting. Of course, the Transformer isn’t there on set at the time. They put him in later. What Michael does to help his actors is give you a piece of a Transformer to act with.
Q: Really? Like what?
A: He’ll put a head or even a leg of a transformer.
Q: Usually it’s a tennis ball on a stick.
A: No, not on a Michael Bay movie (laughs).
Q: You really made your name in TV with Cheers and Frasier, we saw you on Broadway, but now you’ve really jumped into the big action film franchises. As well as Transformers you were in the latest X-Men and Expendables 3.
A: Yeah. Like I was saying, I wanted to be in this Transformers film. For X-Men I ran into Hugh Jackman and were were talking about me going back to X-Men and I was really keen. I called Bryan Singer and were were able to make it work. The same with Expendables. It’s a huge ensemble cast headed by Sylvester Stallone who is one of Hollywood’s great showmen. (Laughs) Yes, I had a busy summer.
Q: And I read you’re going back to TV.
A: Yes. I’m doing a new show with Martin Lawrence and I’m excited about that. We play Chicago lawyers from different backgrounds. It’s very funny. I love making movies, but TV is also great. I really enjoy doing both.
Q: It must be great to play so many different characters – whether it is Attinger in Transformers, Dr Frasier Crane in Frasier and Cheers or Mayor Tom Cane in Boss or even La Cage aux Folles on Broadway.
A: It is. I’m someone who likes to try new things and take on new challenges. I might go back to Broadway to do another musical.