News came out this week that Kelsey Grammer will become a dad for the seventh time, and so it seems pretty appropriate that he’s starring in a new animated film called “Storks.”
The five-time Emmy winner, famous for his long-running role as Frasier Crane on “Cheers” and “Frasier,” voices Hunter, the brusque, big-shouldered CEO of a stork delivery service, which has moved away from bringing babies to families to delivering packages for an internet retailer.
Andy Samberg’s Junior is a stork with ambitions of moving up in the company ranks. He desperately wants to please his boss, but that becomes a serious challenge when the machine that makes babies gets reactivated.
amNewYork spoke with Grammer about the film, out Friday.
What drew you to the film?
Oh gosh, someone calls, “We got this animated feature we’re doing about storks and babies.” Of course, I’m into babies a lot these days, and that just seemed right up my alley. I went over and talked with [director] Nick [Stoller] for a second and said, “Yeah, I’m doing it.” It’s just fun. I don’t waste a lot of time trying to figure out some major reason to do it except for the fact that it sounds like it’s fun.
You’ve also worked with director Nick Stoller on “Neighbors 2.” How is it working with him?
I enjoy working with him. He’s got something on television we talked about maybe doing as well. I enjoy his mind. He’s really creative. I saw a few things in this movie that I had never really seen before that I thought was pretty damn funny.
What scene was it?
The bit with the penguins. I love when Hunter goes, “Ah, the penguins will be looking after her. They’re very nurturing.” I love that. “They’ve made documentaries about it.” That was one of my favorite moments, but in the subsequent scene when the hero and heroine come to take the baby back, the penguins are guarding her, but she’s taking a nap, so they have this fight where no one can scream, and I loved that. Forks in the chest and no one says a thing. I thought that was a real stroke of genius. It’s just such a lovely metaphor for life with children.
Did you get a chance to record any of your scenes directly with Andy?
Yeah, we actually did do the whole first interview scene, it was all of us just sitting in there, laughing, doing it together, pretty silly stuff. There’s a ton of stuff we did that will never see the light of day. It was actually a bit of a riot. I kept cracking myself up. Andy is a very funny guy. It was a good time.
When did you realize your voice was so unique?
Oh gosh, that was so long ago. When I was a kid, I was 12 when my voice started to change and I realized it was an interesting voice and I started singing in the choir when I was 14, that’s what really got my voice going. I’ve always been sort of voice-oriented. Of course, rather than going into opera, which is what my voice teacher wanted me to do, and suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, I thought maybe being an actor would be a better move. I probably turned out to be right about that. So my voice, it’s a fun thing to have, it’s a piece of my equipment that is malleable and fun.
Have you used the stork story with any of your kids?
I actually haven’t, no. I’m a pretty straight-shooting dad, so I’m usually good about being as factual within the context of their age as I can be. When they’re 3 or 4, it’s, “Mommy and Daddy love you and that love brings about children.” Stuff like that. When they’re 12, 13, 14, 15, it’s a little more specific, filled with all the old warnings that should accompany such a lecture. I’m not the stork guy, but I did love this conceit in the movie how all of the sudden the baby machine comes on and they rediscover their true meaning.
Any chance we’ll see you back on Broadway any time soon?
I’ve been talking to Harvey [Weinstein] a little bit. We’re probably going to be doing [“Finding Neverland”] in London for a little while. I’ll probably open it there. Whether or not I stay for a year remains to be seen. It’s pretty unlikely, to be honest. I just love mixing it up. Stage was my first love and singing was one of my first loves. It’s great to keep my hand in. Will there be other things in New York? Yeah, probably. I sort of space them out. There’s a lot going on here. I have other children here in Los Angeles that love to be active with, so I’m not leaving LA anytime soon. These visits to New York are good.
What’s going on with your new Amazon series “The Last Tycoon”?
We’re coming. It’ll be on. We got past that benchmark and the Amazon audience, I guess, voted to see more. We’ve got a few ideas, I’m actually having dinner with [creator] Billy Ray next week and we’ll talk about some of the things we’re going to do. But I love the character, I love the world. It’s terrific to have an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel that isn’t finished so you can actually try and make it up, which is pretty cool. He’s got this great world, and has to go figure out what to do with it. I think that’s a real luxury for a writer, especially one who is as creative as Billy is, and I’m thrilled to find out what we’re going to be doing. We have a pretty rich world to explore and I’m playing a great character, he’s so much fun.