Kelsey Grammer: ‘People are soes swift to judge, to react, to punish’

As the actor superstars in Netflixs new slapstick Like Father he discusses the difficulties of fatherhood, Frasier reboot rumors and his thoughts on Roseanne

Kelsey Grammer seems like a guy who has a grip on his emotions. Not only did he dedicate 20 years to playing therapist Frasier Crane, but the renown that followed forced him to navigate the most severe moments of their own lives in public.

He’s spent decades talking about misfortune: the separate assassinations of his father, Frank, and sister, Karen; the scuba diving collision that killed his twin half-brothers; his battles with alcohol and cocaine craving; and his three ex-wives and complex detention arrangings. At 63 and merrily married to fourth spouse Kayte Walsh, with whom he has three young kids bringing the grand total of the Grammer brood to seven, the veteran actor has the solidity of a boulder that knows it can withstand a toppling breeze. Still, when Grammer first met with Like Father writer-director Lauren Miller Rogen to discuss the part of Harry Hamilton, a workaholic dad who reconnects with the adult daughter he trenched when she was five years, he began to cry.

” It’s remarkable how similar to my own life it really is ,” says Grammer. His second oldest daughter, the actor Greer Grammer, was born out of wedlock months before he chose to marry a different woman.

” We spent years without really being in touch ,” admits Grammer. While he focused on his career, Greer grew into a lovely, busy blonde merely a few years younger than Harry’s fictional daughter Rachel, played by Kristen Bell. He’s worked hard to rebuild their relationship.” When I read it I supposed, this is something I care about ,” he tells.” Now, we’re very close, which is something I guess I brought to the role .”

After that, actually inducing the cinema was easier. Like Father is a screwball romantic comedy powered by paternal love. The girl he has to win over is his own child. It opens with an agonizing meet-cute when Harry startles Rachel by resurfacing at her wedding just as she’s dumped by the groom. They pound bourbon and bicker about the most effective ways to eat a slice of New York street pizza (” You’re looking for a calzone, that’s your problem ,” Rachel quips ), and then they wake up hungover and horrified to realize that while blackout drunk, they boarded Rachel’s Jamaican honeymoon cruise- and they’re rooming in the honeymoon suite. Marooned in mandatory exhilaration and suffering awkward dinners with passengers who assume they’re a couple, the pair discover they have only two things in common: DNA and a manic drive to succeed at everything from their marketings careers to the ship’s version of the Newlywed Game.

Kelsey Kelsey Grammer and Kristen Bell in Like Father Photograph: Cara Howe/ Cara Howe/ Netflix

” I recollect there was a pretty devastating Al Pacino film a few years back called Cruising, but I don’t think that was about the same thing ,” jokes Grammer. Here, the question is: can Harry and Rachel zip line their route to familial bliss? Altogether. But the movie is less a straight, sleek zoom than a series of shivering Caribbean detours. Rachel ventilates her two and a half decades of repressed rage while water sliding, mini-golfing, cliff jumping and crooning karaoke.” Zip lining was cool ,” says Grammer.” They wouldn’t let me jump off the waterfall .”

As for sing, he isn’t shy- he infamously sung Frasier’s” tossed salad and scrambled eggs “. Grammer mock-solemnly lowers his voice.” Confession: we don’t devote a party without having a karaoke machine .”

Grammer knows the islands. He was born on St Thomas where his father owned a bar and grill called, appropriately, Greer’s Place. After his mothers divorced, his mother took him to Florida, where the Like Father production docked to shoot land scenes.” It was like being home again ,” says Grammer- good and bad. While the cast and crew were in Miami late last summertime, they learned they were in the direct route of Hurricane Irma. Grammer voted the film stay put.” Better to just wait, sit tight. These things have kind of a style of changing course, having grown up there all those years. But they got panicky and moved us to Orlando- and then, of course, it scored a direct hit on Orlando .”

Otherwise, the finished movie proceeded as schemed. Does it have Jamaican weed? Of course. A cameo from Miller’s husband Seth Rogen? Yup. Mangled Barry Manilow? Perfectly, with a bonus analysis of Escape( The Pina Colada Song ).” I thought it was about loneliness and desperation and reaching out for companionship ,” says Grammer.” I never thought it was about cheating !”

Grammer’s real-life family arrived aboard for a shoot that straddled truth, fiction and vacation.” I’m in a place that I’ve never been happier work-wise, and I do have time to see my family a lot. What I regretted earlier in my life was that I seemed to be so busy sometimes that suffered ,” says Grammer.” Candidly, the beauty of being an older dad is you get a chance to kinda try it again. That’s been a real gift .” When Greer insured a rough cut of the movie,” she sort of sniffled a little bit- it was really sweet “.

” I like these characters who are men that still have some growing to do ,” tells Grammer. He’s just wrapped The Space Between, where he tackles a washed-up 70 s rocker in the key of Robert Plant who’s also trying to reconnect with his daughter- consider it a riff on the same ballad.” Having had daughters and sons now, the girls get there a lot sooner. There is a kind of rash or epidemic of men over 50 who still are hanging on to sort of a boyhood that constructs them charming- but also it’s something they need to resolve. I think there are opportunities for me to play these kind of people for the rest of my life .”

That description, of course, also applies to Frasier Crane, last considered packing up his Seattle condo to chase a girl to Chicago. Laughs Grammer:” Knowing his track record, I don’t believe that worked out .”

Peri Peri Gilpin, David Hyde Pierce, Jane Leeves, John Mahoney, Moose and Kelsey Grammer in Frasier. Photo: NBC/ NBC via Getty Images

Last week, Deadline announced that Grammer was considering a Frasier reboot, a narrative he calls “a little premature”. He’s “was talkin about a” a couple of ideas, sure, kicked around where the therapist might live now and what relationship could anchor the demonstrate like Frasier’s cankerous connection to his dad, played by John Mahoney, who died in February.

” It would be be quite a breathtaking failure to try to do it and not do it better than the previous prove- and I think that’s almost impossible ,” says Grammer.” To pick up that responsibility would be a very brave thing to do. And you know, maybe I don’t have the courage .”

Slate magazine mused that, in 2018, Frasier could have become a Trump voter- much like Grammer himself and, uncomfortably, like Roseanne Barr, who was kicked off her own sitcom reboot for tweeting a racist insult. Grammer has positioned himself as a kindlier conservative. He recently played a homosexual parent in the Broadway revamp of The Birdcage and has stated that he believes the government should stay out of matrimony wholly. He once debated entering politics, even as he wondered aloud to Jay Leno if being an out Republican cost him an Emmy nomination among a younger generation of voters. Now, Grammer finds the tenor too nasty. He doesn’t excuse Roseanne’s statements, instead choosing to talk in larger terms about national division.

” Obviously, some lines have been described ,” says Grammer.” People are swift to judge, swift to react, swift to penalize. I don’t think it’s the best side of us to penalise everybody who says something that we don’t especially like. The first amendment is an important part of our lives and of our culture. But you work for certain people and they don’t like what you said, and they’ll fire you. And that’s the way it runs .”

Where does America go from here?” We can get better ,” says Grammer. He’s seen that emotional progress in his own life. If America’s therapist turned ache into positivity, maybe his country can, too.

Like Father is now available on Netflix

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