Kelsey Grammer is a living elocution lesson. The man is known for his beautiful baritone voice, which he lends to the new animated movie "Storks.” Grammer plays a duplicitous, barrel-chested boss of a delivery company operated by storks, who have given up on the baby-sending business. He also appears in the new television adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's final novel "The Last Tycoon." Grammer talked to us about being seen as more formal than he is, wrestling and (sort of) Zac Efron’s abs.
You played the boss on the show " Boss," and now you play the boss in "Storks." Do you just like being the boss? It does suit you.
I think people's imagination leads them to believe it suits me. I guess I have the necessary equipment. A voice, experience, presence — these are the things that combine to make them think I can be a boss. I mean, I have been a boss of many things in my life, but I don't come across quite the same in real life.
A lot of your recent roles have recurring themes of money, power, and corruption...
Well, I think that's just universal stuff. I'm a man discovering what it is to be a man. I think that's sometimes why I'm asked to play it. The thing I like about my "Breaking the Bank" character is he was a not fully-realized man. He was kind of a boss but an inept one, and I love roles that take a guy who's not there yet, and by some stroke of luck, or some disaster in their lives, suddenly become fully-realized men. That's my niche right now. I like to do roles where I get to flesh people out.
That's kind of what you're doing with "The Last Tycoon," fleshing out a novel that was never fully complete.
Yeah, isn't that funny? I was thinking about that, too. Billy Ray, who's writing this stuff, I thought, "What a wonderful thing! The first half was written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and now I get to do whatever I want to it." It's kind of a whimsical thing to do, in some ways ... or dangerous, depending on how good you are.
You know what's also dangerous? Wrestling. I loved the voicework you did for WrestleMania.
Oh, you heard that? It's sort of tongue-in-cheek but also epic and grand. It was a great mix for me, I loved doing it. I'm a sideline fan of wrestling. I don't hunger for it or anything, but in the periphery of my experience I've always been kind of impressed by wrestlers. When I first started out, there was a character called the Great Malenko who was doing a circuit down in Florida. They appealed to me: larger-than-life characters standing up for right and wrong. I love that kind of stuff. It's great imagery, great entertainment, and they're in great shape. I love the Rock and Roddy Piper, and Andre the Giant. He casts a pretty big shadow throughout contemporary culture.
You and the Rock should make a wrestling movie together. Frasier vs. the Rock.
He's terrific, isn't he? I'd love to work with him. If they put me through a year of training and the culmination of all my work was to finally be in the ring for about two minutes, I'd be glad to. But I don't think that's going to happen.
You worked with Nicholas Stoller, co-director of "Storks," on "Neighbors 2," which stars Zac Efron's abs. Did you get to touch his muscles?
Uh...well, I, uh, I don't know... that doesn't fall into my, uh, what's the word... Look, Zac is a fella I've known for several years and he seems like a nice guy. That's all I know.
The last two children's animated movies you worked on were "Legends of Oz," which earned you a Razzie, and "Bunyan and Babe," which seems to have disappeared from the face of the earth.
"Bunyan and Babe" was something I was going to do 15 years ago. We finally did record it, but I have no idea what happened to it. No idea. "Legends of Oz" was a bit of a disappointment. I never saw it, but I remember as it was getting put together I thought, "Hmm, I wonder what they're up to." And I found out there was a song in it, but they didn't ask me to sing anything. I thought, ‘Well, they're just missing the boat here. You put me in a movie with a song and don't have me sing? That's what I do!’ Curious.
"The Simpsons" was recently called the Best Show Ever in a book. What's your favorite Sideshow Bob episode?
It's probably the one with the rake.
Yeah. That one. "Cape Feare." And singing that song, just hysterical. I did win an Emmy for my performance in "The Italian Bob," you know. With the baby named Vendetta. It's so silly. They're wonderfully ridiculous shows. Sideshow Bob casts a pretty big shadow.
Please tell me there won't be any reboot of "Frasier." It would crush my mom. She loves "Frasier."
Oh, no, no, there would be no point. We already did it so well. How would they do it better? And tell your mom I said, "Hello."
Follow Grek Cwik on Twitter @GregCwik1