Continuing, Comics2Film's coverage of the 'X-Men: The Last Stand' round tables, thechrisbrown had a chance to talk to the man that brings Beast to life, Kelsey Grammer. Being in the presence of some great actors, our reporter never felt starstruck until the moment he realized that this wasn't just Beast, or Frasier, but Sideshow Bob. He did manage to keep his composure, though, as it was revealed that Sideshow Bob will make a brief appearance in The Simpsons movie.
Sticking to the X-Men franchise, we talked about blue fur, politics, and the challenges of bringing Beast to the screen.
Q: So, Kelsey, thanks for bringing the Beast to life. You were awesome.
KG: Thanks ...
Q: Even though we got a glimpse of Hank McCoy in X2 ...
KG: I heard about that, I don't remember it.
Q: Now, the suit, the actual suit process, so they did a complete scan, life scan of you, is that what they did?
KG: Yeah, they put me in plaster, basically. That's a hard thing to do, you have to stand still for about an hour and a half, and they give you a little, like a brace, something to get ahold of, like a little structure that they've built that you can put your hands on like a bicycle rack, or like handle bars, and you just have to hold still while they wrap this stuff around you. And the really fun part is when they take it off it actually pulls some hair out of your body.
Q: What was the most rewarding part of being involved in X-Men 3 and playing this character?
KG: Telling a good story. That's what we're here for, you know, tell a good story, tell something that's fun, you know. Give the audience an entertaining evening, maybe get 'em to ask a couple of questions, and uh, you know, take 'em to church, take 'em to the fight, get 'em in the game, you know, have a good time. That's what it's about.
Q: The thing with Beast in the comics and also the cartoons, it's always been a leadership role, one of the main mutants. Obviously there's been a change in leadership in this film, if they come back and say we want to continue the franchise, X4 and X5, Halle's coming back, would you be interested?
KG: Sure, if it's a good script, if I'm available. (He chuckles a bit.) It's a great character, I could see playing it again.
Q: How much fun did you have with the character?
KG: It's actually really fun working with the people, it's a great cast, wonderful stuff to do, it's always an adventure to play dress-up like that, play, you know, cops and robbers, whatever, uh, that's the kind of hairpin I am. I like doing that. Um, it's physically very challenging, and it gets a little emotionally weird because you're stuck in that make-up for so long, you kind of have a love/hate relationship with it. It gets a little daunting. So, you gotta get geared up for it, I just prepare myself mentally for the job, find that quiet place where you go and get this process started, and three or four hours later you're sitting around, you put the stuff on, five or six hours you're still sitting around, you start to get a little claustrophobic, your skin crawls. It's a very challenging thing to have to do physically.
Q: Was it easy to move in during the fight scenes?
KG: It's limiting. It's not easy, but you discover what you can do and what you can't do. You can't turn your head too far or else you rip the neck off.
Q: Coming from Cheers and Frasier where you had two strong and eclectic ensembles, was being part of another ensemble one of the biggest draws for you?
KG: I didn't know what I was getting into when I took it, I just read the script, what they had of the script at the time. But the last scene was pretty much in place, you know, they kind of knew where it was going, so I had a chance to read through that, and I thought it was very emotional, I thought it was very, um, I'm trying to think of the right word, it explored the love between people and I thought, that movie's about love, so that's, that's the sort of stuff I like to work on.
Q: In the movie, you take a role as a politician, and you're politically active, would you consider one day running for office?
KG: My aspirations to be in political office, actually, are pinned to when, after this next batch of kids is grown, so it's not until I'm 70. It's a later in life kind of thing. In fact, that's the way it was framed, you know, the Constitution was, you know, but the Senate especially, send the older guys where the cooling can take place. That's what it's for, so not to get so hot headed. Slow it down a little bit, let's not rush into something. Let's figure out what we're going to do, take our time, uh, it's just to lend a hand, to be useful when I'm older.
Q: So you do see yourself ...
KG: It's possible, if somebody, you know, has the bad taste to elect me. (He chuckles, the room laughs.)
KG: I still go through a lot of guilt for not going to Vietnam when I was a kid. I didn't have to, I didn't get called. I registered for the draft, I had friends that went, I always respected them for that, you know, even if you stand in line with the policy that got us there, I still admire the fact that you went and served. And I always feel like I ducked in a weird way. So, being from a military family when I was a young boy, I just would like to try to do something that fills that part of me.
Q: Did you tap into any part of that, that part of yourself for Beast?
KG: Well, I carry it with me all of the time. Beast is a great character, he's a man who's obviously torn between many possibilities, but his main choice in life is to do the right thing. He's a stoic about it. He stands up for those of his kind, and makes a decision to be what his birthright has become, which is to be a proud mutant who's made some mistakes in his life, I mean, he's blue because of his own messing with his mutancy. So, that's kind of a fascinating thing about him, it's like he thought, well okay, I'm a mutant, I'm going to go explore it. It turned him blue and made him furry. It was a very difficult, his is a very recognizable conflict. He's, uh, a big mutant, he's the real deal.
Q: Why do you think he feels that working with the government, at least at that point, is the best option for mutants?
KG: Because, well, and I don't know if you feel this way about Washington D.C., but D.C. is where, is the station where the sacredness is kept. It's a terrible town and it's full of crazy, you know, the egomaniacs, they're all fighting one another all the time at cross-preferences a lot of the time, and somehow out of that we come up with policy and sometimes out of that we come up with mistakes or victories, but the prayer of good government lives there. And I think if you want to be involved in something like that, you have to go to church there, that's where you've got to go worship.
Q: So, McCoy would look at himself as a kind of true believer in a sense?
KG: He's one of the faithful, yeah, he believes the battle can be fought there before the battle has to be fought elsewhere. Sometimes you do run out of options and you have to fight. That's what's great about Hank, he waits until the last moment and then when he does it, he does it with severity, and, uh, giving no quarter and expecting none.
(There is a silence for a moment.)
Q: Wow! That was deep.
KG: It's simple. It's the age-old conflict, isn't it? It's about good and evil, and it always has been, and it's about when do you give up? Well, never as far as I'm concerned.
Q: Talk about the casting of you, was it Marvel who did it, was it Fox that called you?
KG: It was actually Matthew Vaughn, the guy that was going to direct it. I don't know everything about the whole process, but he said, 'Kelsey Grammer, he's the guy to play Beast.' Fox said, 'No he isn't.' Marvel, I don't know what they said at that time, but I met Avi in a shoe store near our neighborhood just before all this happened and I think at that point, after meeting me in person, he thought, oh yeah, he probably could play it. Because most people have an assumption about who I am based on Frasier, it's never correct, but, you know, okay. And certainly, the studio is always reluctant to put a TV person in a big role in a film, you know, but once they get over that then it's a good idea, and they all embraced it after I sat down and talked to them a little bit, then after that I got a call a month later and they said, oh they're replacing the director. So, I still have Matthew Vaughn to thank for it. I think he did the right thing for himself, saying, 'I don't have enough preparation time,' because they wanted to turn this movie around fast and release it as they are. And Matthew just thought, 'I'll never be able to make it.' So, he did a wise thing, and then Brett coming in, he's used to kind of wrestling with enforced chaos, so, I think he was perfect for it. Just fly by the seat of your pants, we all had fun, and it seemed like it was never going to end. I shot something three weeks ago.
Q: Rebecca Romjin has said that the makeup was very painful. Did you ever talk to her about that?
KG: Uh, well, she had to do more than I did. I mean, physically, you know, it's applied more liberally to all of her. And I didn't have to do anything there ... cuz, I'm a beast anyway ...
(The room explodes in laughter.)
KG: 'Oh, we don't have to touch that ...'
KG: Mostly it's just face for me, neck and shoulders, and we, they put some hand stuff on and arms that would snap into one of the suits. It was a convenient thing and even a plus that during the scenes when we were freezing, I had all of this stuff on, I was the only one actor on the set ...
Q: Now, you said an hour and a half, is that an hour and a half of make-up?
KG: The whole process is three hours from start to finish, I can be camera ready in three hours. So, it wasn't so bad, I'd do about two hours to get staged, basically, and then the last 15-20 minutes was the final hands and things like that. The cups were difficult, I cut myself several times. They use those little finger cup things for the nails, and if I was in a fight, it would sneak out and cut you like a steel-toed boot would if you're in construction. If you're around heavy equipment, don't wear steel-toed boots because you'll chop your toes off.
Q: This will be your second action figure with Sideshow Bob, now the Beast ...
KG: I have several dolls, I'm also Stinky Pete in Toy Story 2, he's been immortalized in toy form.
Q: Do they do a live scan for the action figure?
KG: Yeah, we did all the scanning, there's all sorts of stuff that's already been done, I approved some drawings, and things like that. Sadly, I don't think I get any of it, any of the merchandising.
Q: Sideshow Collectibles put out a big maquette or something for Beast ...
KG: I haven't seen it yet. I have the original maquette that was a gift from the guys, it's fantastic, in my library.
Q: Overall, what would you feel has been the most rewarding part of this whole experience of being part of the X-Men universe?
KG: Well, it's a great franchise and it's cool, it talks about big things. It's fun to talk about good and evil. It's fun to actually fight good and evil battles on screen. That's what we're doing in life, isn't it? I mean, hopefully, that's what we're doing, I mean, we just dumb it down. There is the day to day, that most of us are obsessed with, but once in a while we're asked to do something extraordinary, and, even though I'm just an actor, we've got to lend ourselves to that process, which is, you know, fighting it out.
Q: Thank you very much.
KG: Thanks guys.