The actor reflects on his career and how he still finds it hard to say goodbye to the Seattle psychiatrist that changed his life
Kelsey Grammer’s unmistakeable, mellifluous voice sounds uncannily British, which is perhaps strange for someone who grew up in Florida and is a born and bred American pop culture icon.
“Well my wife’s from here with a really big family and we travel across all the time. Hearing that is a compliment, I’ll happily take that,” he says.
Grammer, 61, made his screen debut as psychiatrist Dr Frasier Crane in Cheers in 1984, a role he would portray for the next 20 years. It’s hard to believe, given the incredible success of Frasier, that his character was only ever intended as a supporting role.
“In Cheers, Frasier was a side player to the action. He breezed in, offered a witty anecdote of candour and faded out again,” Grammer says.
So when the Seattle-based spin off series, Frasier, became such an incredible success – Grammer won four Emmys and three Golden Globes over 11 seasons between 1993 and 2004, while the show itself pulled in audiences in excess of 30 million at its peak – Grammer says it was a “surreal” experience.
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“All I could do was experience it and everything that came with it, good and bad and enjoy the wild ride. Which I did in many ways,” he laughs. “I never could have predicted that. No one could. I wasn’t the star on Cheers and I was OK with that. Frankly, I never thought I would be the star. And then it took on this whole other life force. Surreal is an apt way to describe it.”
Playing the same character for so long is a double-edged sword
Grammer says people will be asking him about Frasier for “not the rest of my career, the rest of my life!” Not that it bothers him. “I was privileged to play one of the great characters of modern television,” he says.
Of course, for a whole generation of tv viewers and filmgoers, Grammer has also carved out a niche as a voice actor, with roles in Toy Story 2, recent Dreamworks hit Storks and Sideshow Bob on The Simpsons.
“Animated movies are probably the best movies being made right now,” he says. “I love doing animation because it’s my responsibility to give back and repay those who made my childhood come alive. 101 Dalmatians is one my all-time favourites, I’ve watched it with my kids again and again, just recently with my youngest, and not only do I relive the magic from then but I get to see it reflected on their faces and it’s enchanting.
“Ever since I was asked to do [animation] I felt like it was my duty to say yes and bring joy to children’s lives like the actors and animators did for me.”
Retiresavvy is brought to you by Skipton Building Society. The interview in this article was supplied by InterviewHub. This article has been commissioned by retiresavvy and any opinions voiced are the author's own.