John Lithgow has revealed he turned down the role of Frasier Crane as it was “beneath his dignity”.
Kelsey Grammer portrayed the beloved character for 20 years, first on the 1980s sitcom Cheers and then on his own spin-off series, Frasier.
He was not, however, the first choice for the role, with the Cheers producers at first approaching Lithgow, who was coming off back-to-back Oscar nominations for 1982’s The World According to Garp and 1983’s Terms of Endearment.
“I never wanted to put that out into the public for many years,” Lithgow told The Guardian, “really sympathising with Kelsey Grammer. But it was at a time when I was ticking off movies.”
He continued: “I’d gotten two Oscar nominations in a row. A TV comedy series was so beneath my dignity that I barely even remember being told that it had been offered to me.”
Lithgow said that he only discovered that he was offered the role when he worked on the 1990s sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun. Cheers co-creator James Burrows directed many of that show’s episodes.
“After that I had no dignity left,” Lithgow joked.
While Frasier ended in 2004, Grammer has repeatedly teased a possible revival of the show – despite the death of actor John Mahoney, who portrayed his on-screen father Martin Crane.
“The first principle is that it is a different story, basically,” he said in 2019. “The same group of characters, but in a different setting. Something has changed in their lives.”
He added that the show would mark Frasier’s “third act”, explaining: “He’s past the radio show. He might be an art dealer. He might be a professor. We don’t know yet.”
In April, the surviving Frasier cast reunited for a Zoom discussion about the show, which raised money for The Actors Fund.
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies