Kelsey Grammar is one of several high-profile additions to the “Expendables” franchise for its third outing, and even he understands people might find his inclusion in the ’80s throwback testosterone-fest something of a head-scratcher. But, as Grammar tells us, he’s actually tougher than people think. “I’m working at the gym. I’m punching people in the streets,” he jokes. “All those punch videos you’ve been seeing? That’s me.”
This is an interesting choice for you, this franchise. What was your reaction when they first approached you?
Actually they didn’t approach me. I had heard there was a role available in “The Expendables.” I didn’t know what it was, I didn’t know how it was going to play out or what the requirements really were, but I knew if I pushed a little bit, maybe their imaginations would say, “Oh. Kelsey Grammar. OK, that’s a surprise.” I’m a lot tougher than people think I am. If you know anything about my personal life, you’ll realize that. [Laughs] I thought I could fulfill the requirements of an action film, should that be asked.
Is doing a more action-oriented role something you’ve been looking to do?
Oh, I’d love to, I’d love to do it. And who knows, it may happen, it may not happen. But being in this film was a complete joy for me. And Bonaparte actually is a terrific character. He’s just a guy who used to be in some kind of mercenary world and stepped away and is a procurer, basically, now. He puts together teams and he’s been making some pretty good money at it. It was really fun to play, and we kind of just hit on this sort of Hemingway, broad-shouldered kind of guy who is in the background now a little bit. But my hope is now if we do another one, Bonaparte gets to don the military motley. [Laughs] So to speak.
That Hemingway-esque, life-on-the-road type seems fun.
Yeah, who lives big, has lived a big life — and believes in things that some of us believe in still about courage and about showing up and about taking a stand, being in the fight. I’m one of those guys. A man’s man.
Big screen vs. small screen
How does the breakdown of divisions between the film and TV worlds look from the perspective of someone who’s been so successful on the TV side?
In England, you can go from television to film to stage seamlessly. Nobody has an issue. In America, yeah, we tend to kind of put people in these pockets. It was always my dream that I would break the bonds of “Frasier” at some point and have a chance to play some other roles. I think “Boss” helped that, and people went, “Oh wow, I had no idea.” Because they never do. So you have to show them. I did another comedy in England in the spring called “Breaking the Bank” that’s about a British guy, and of course everybody there said, “I had no idea he was British!” (laughs) Well, I’m not. I’m an actor. So that’s where we are, we’re still trying to convince people that actors are actors, and we’ll be OK.