While his TV role as Dr Frasier Crane in comedies Cheers and Frasier will forever shadow him, Kelsey Grammer has made concerted efforts to get fans to see different facets to him. And not just as an actor but also as a producer, director, writer and voice-over artist.
He’s been in the made-for-television film adaptation of the stage musical of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol and he crossed over to the dark side with his role in the TV series, Boss. He was also in the blockbuster hit, Transformers: Age of Extinction.
He explored more comedic roles in both mediums - not all of them enjoyed or came close to achieving the success he achieved with his breakthrough role, though.
Now he is back on the small screen with Proven Innocent, playing the role of Gore Bellows, a Cook County state attorney, whose wrongful convictions of brother and sister, Levi and Madeline Scott (Rachelle Lefevre), comes back to haunt him in the worse way - she is now his opposing counsel.
In a telephone interview with Grammer, he shed light on why he agreed to be part of this Universal TV series.
“I went in and watched the pilot a little bit and discussed it with them (the creators). I said, ‘I think there are some things that I could add to this’. I think, in all fairness to the actor playing the role before, I’m not sure they thought the role through,” he said.
“But after some discussion with the writers and creators, along with some back and forth between what we thought was the best place for it to go, I signed on, and we agreed to add the edges in and explore it (with the character).”
After a brief pause, he continues, “I think we have a well-rounded character, who is definitely the bad guy in the show, but you start to understand why he does the things he does. Obviously, the first two episodes taps around what makes this guy tick.
“There is a sort of just and moral application of the law that he is trying to push, and he is a little obsessed with the one that got away. At some point, they even say it. Madeline Scott is his Moby Dick because he really believes she is guilty, and it just eats at him that she is out and free.”
The new Hollywood template for bad guys is to soften their nefarious deeds with redemptive qualities. It’s one of the reasons why Shonda Rhimes’s How to Get Away with Murder, as well as Sarah Treem and Hagai Levi’s The Affair, have left such an indelible impression on viewers.
Comparing his Boss character, mayor Tom Kane, to this one, he explains, “This is a very different character from what I’ve played before. He’s not as assured as Tom Kane was. There’s this constant thing with his past where he is trying to figure out a criminal angle to bring Madeline to justice. He is compelling.”
While he does struggle with suppressing his input, especially when he is employed as an actor, he laughs, “Most of the time, I’m holding my tongue even when there’s something that screams for correction.”
He has nothing but praise for his co-stars Lefevre and Russell Hornsby, who plays as Ezekiel “Easy” Boudreau, a former reinsurance lawyer who got Madeline’s conviction overturned and now works with her.
He shares: “I haven’t worked with them before but I think they are wonderful actors, and I think she holds the lead position with flair and responsibility. That’s admirable. I’m blessed to be working with them.”
Before the PR rushes him off for his next interview, he adds, “This show has interesting characters to watch. The fun part is they keep viewers guessing for a while.”
* Proven Innocent airs on Universal TV (DStv channel 117) on Mondays at 8pm.