Kelsey Grammar won five Emmy Awards and three Golden Globes for his performances in “Frasier”, “The Simpsons” and “Boss”.
But the decorated actor says his greatest work could be a Christian drama “Jesus Revolution” (in theaters Friday). You do not believe it ? Ask his wife, Kayte Walsh.
“It’s really uplifting. It’s a good movie,” Grammer says. “My wife and I saw it together. She burst into tears and said, ‘That’s the best thing you’ve ever done.’ ”
In the faith-based film, Grammer portrays real-life pastor Chuck Smith, who, with the help of street preacher Lonnie Frisbee (Jonathan Roumie), revived his struggling church by inviting young hippies and rock music into the lap. Grammer himself was raised in Christian Science and remembers the so-called “Jesus movement” of the 1960s and 1970s.
‘I really liked him’:Kelsey Grammer Explains How ‘Frasier’ Revival Honors Kirstie Alley
Show: ‘The Chosen’s Jonathan Roumie Goes Hippie in ‘Jesus Revolution’
“They were full of energy and upbeat, and I thought that was a good thing to see,” said Grammer, 68, who will next star in the Paramount+ cover of “Frasier” later this year. year. He tells us more about the film and its abandoned ABC comedy with Alec Baldwin, who faces manslaughter charges in a shooting death on the “Rust” film set. (Edited and condensed for clarity.)
Question: What did you find most radical about Chuck’s welcoming of the counterculture in the church?
Kelsey Grammar: What Chuck did goes back to one of the basic tenets of Christianity, which is inclusion. He thought, “Well, I do it this way and people don’t listen,” so he finally gave up. He said, “Show me a hippie and I’ll listen.” Indeed, it became a very dynamic relationship between him and Lonnie Frisbee. It became a great adventure, which still continues. Sa (Calvary Chapel) the church has branched out into 1,000 churches across the country and it still exists. Contemporary Christian music is doing gangbusters and (the Jesus movement) has brought that to its doorstep.
Were you a “square” growing up, as they say in the movie? Or were you more of a hippie?
I was square, but I also thrived in the more current movements of my generation at the time. (Laughs.) I had long hair, I was a surfer, but I was also a pretty dedicated scholar. I wasn’t a pothead, as we used to call it – I was kind of a standard alcoholic yahoo. I’d go for a beer or two, you know?
I celebrated with my peers the idea that we could love each other and love each other well, and that this would embellish our lives. I think that’s still the most appealing part of this movement. There is a religious component through Christ, but Christ was the first hippie. “Love your enemies” – I mean, this is something extraordinary.
How has your own relationship to faith evolved over the years?
I had the hiccups. I have lived through tragic moments. I struggled with those and worked through them: sometimes rejecting faith, sometimes even rejecting God, in a period when I was quite angry about it, like, “Where have you been ?” That sort of thing. But I accepted it and found great peace in my faith and in Jesus. It’s not cavalier – Jesus made a difference in my life. It’s not something I’m going to apologize for.
Like someone who enjoyed You and Alec Baldwin on NBC’s “30 Rock”, I was disappointed when ABC passed on your sitcom project a few years ago.
I was sad to see that too. It was a good show. Either way, they make their decisions based on what they think is important. We were funny, I think people would have really enjoyed that. And so much has happened since then. I like Alec. We’re on opposite sides of the political aisle, but that doesn’t mean anything, honestly. We are like-minded people. (Laughs.) That’s what’s important and there was definitely some fun stuff.
Have you been in contact with Alec this last year?
No. My heart goes out to everyone involved. A difficult thing has happened and the consequences ensue for the ride. I’m here and I’m still a friend of his. I hope everything will go as planned.
Although the ABC show didn’t work out, did it finally open the door for you to do a “Frasier” revival?
“Frasier” was in the works at the same time. It’s going to be on Paramount+ and I’m thrilled. I’m excited to play against Frasier again. It’s pretty seamless – it came back as a nice set of clothes.
Besides Frasier Crane, is there an unexpected role that people recognize you for?
True, Sideshow Bob (from “The Simpsons”) lives forever. It will continue for who knows how long. Thousands of years from now, people may love Sideshow Bob. He is an extraordinary character. Tom Kane from (Starz drama) “Boss” was also a great character. One of my favorites. I played the mayor of Chicago and I received great congratulations for this performance. And then unfortunately, (the show was canceled after two seasons). We had about five seasons which I think would have been pretty revealing TV, but we didn’t get a chance to finish it.