January 26th, 2010
12:06 PM ET

David Hyde Pierce shows off his dark side in Sundance thriller

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David Hyde Pierce is probably best known for his Emmy-winning role as Dr. Niles Crane, the uptight brother on the long-running sitcom, “Frasier.” So it shouldn't be a surprise that his character in his first feature film-starring role in the psychological thriller “The Perfect Host," starts out as very Niles-like.

Pierce plays Warwick Wilson, an adorably neurotic, vaguely effeminate man with impeccable manners, O.C.D., and a love of fine wine. A bank robber played by “24’s” Clayne Crawford talks his way into Wilson’s home and uses it as a place to hide out, just as the perfect host is preparing a dinner party. That’s when facades begin to crumble and the audience gets a peek at an entirely different side of Pierce.

It was important to director and writer Nick Tomnay that Pierce’s character of Wilson be someone that the audience immediately relates to and has concern for. After seeing a late-night "Frasier" re-run, Tomnay couldn’t think of anyone better suited for the role.

“Wilson should open the door and as an actor bring all of his previous acting jobs with him," Tomnay said. “I wanted someone the audience would know immediately and feel sympathetic for and feel concern for.”

Pierce loved the script and the role, but most of all he liked the idea of starting out in a familiar place and then going somewhere entirely different by the film’s end.

The filmmakers remain tight-lipped about the character’s transformation since it is the basis of the thriller, but suffice it to say, Pierce lets his freak flag fly in the second half of the film.

“It allowed me to start in a place audiences would be familiar with and to go someplace they would not expect and that was a great opportunity for me as an actor," Pierce said.

When “Frasier” ended after an 11-year run Pierce worked on Broadway, did smaller roles and voice work, but in the back of his mind he was looking for the right material that would give him a starring vehicle.

“It was pretty rare for something to come along that I wanted to do,” Pierce said. “Anything that came along that had that big of a role was always similar to the roles I have been playing for years and I didn’t need to do that anymore. This was the right confluence to allow me to expand on my range.”

The movie is still looking for distribution at Sundance, but has been gathering a following - especially among industry folks hungry for the creepier fare of thrillers and horror movies such as “Paranormal Activity," which came of out a film festival last year to make big bucks at the box office.

"We probably should have gone for 3-D," Pierce joked. "But I can't even imagine what we would have had pop out at the audience."


soundoff (63 Responses)
  1. Jae

    Kim, I know exactly what episode you are talking about. Niles starts out ironing his pants, but ends up setting Frasier's condo on fire. That was one of the funniest bits of the entire show!!!!! I am laughing just thinking about it!

    January 30, 2010 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
  2. buffalo

    Another good example of this type of casting was watching Henry Fonda in "once Upon a Time in the West". He played a psychotic gunfighter/ hired killer that chilled me to the bone,

    January 30, 2010 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
  3. phonegirl

    I am a huge DHP fan. So glad that he is getting to show us more than just Niles. Whoever suggested a spot on "The Big Bang Theory" is on to something....he could be Sheldon's OCD genius uncle or something.....would be hilarious, DHP and Jim Parsons.

    January 29, 2010 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Anne McNeff

    Saw him in "Curtains" on broadway..he was terrific., he won the Tony....he seems very humble...and he is so very talented.,

    January 28, 2010 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
  5. angel eyes

    I love Frasier....David was amazing as Niles...I think everything he has done is wonderful.....so refreshing to see everyone positive about this guy!!! I can watch the reruns of Frasier all day long.....!!

    January 27, 2010 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Tina

    Yes, Nancy, Valerie Mahaffey played his wife inte The Powers That Be and I'm with you...I thought that VM would make a perfect Maris.

    January 27, 2010 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  7. Bobby

    Actually, I don't think Kelly's post was a typo. Daphne did refer to Niles as "Miles" in some of the episodes. And since Kelly enclosed it in quotes, seems that it was being emphasized rather than if it were just a typo :)

    Nice reference, Kelly :)

    January 27, 2010 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  8. Nancy

    DHP is absolutely one my all-time favorites. A modern day Jimmy Stewart. Tina thanks for reminding me of The Powers that Be. That was an absolutely hilarious show. Niles was the most inept suicide wannabe ever and it was hilarious – though darkly so. Wasn't Valerie Mahaffey in that as well? I always thought she would be the perfect Maris should they ever decide to reveal her face. I really hope this gets a release so I can see it. I think he would be fantastic as a villain because he always had that ability to make you think there was something Niles was hiding below the surface. He was the star of Frazier as far as I'm concerned.

    January 27, 2010 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
  9. kwergin

    I always knew Niles was about to crack. I'm very much looking forward to this movie. Should be fun.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:21 am | Report abuse |
  10. Fred Evil

    Can't say enough about this actor and his talent. Excellent timing, control and commitment. DHP is in so much stuff I thoroughly enjoy, I wouldn't know where to start thanking him!

    January 27, 2010 at 3:13 am | Report abuse |
  11. d osullivan

    Love him in Frazier and everything else I have seen him in. Can't wait to see this new film. I also loved the pants ironing segment on Frazier. I was by myslef laughing outloud at his genius. I live in Minneapolis and I see his photo when i go to the Gutherie where he was part of the ensemble. Dina O'Sullivan

    January 27, 2010 at 2:09 am | Report abuse |
  12. Tina

    David Hyde Pierce is the reason I started watching "Fraiser". I had never been a big fan of the "Fraiser" character on "Cheers", but I had seen DHP in a show "The Powers That Be" in the early 90's where he played the suicidal son-in-law of John Forsythe's nit-wit senator character. Pierce was hilarious!!! NBC was stupid...they constantly pre-empted the show or changed the time and it never found an audience. When I saw that Pierce was going to be on "Fraiser" I was thrilled. I still watch it a lot in syndication because of DHP.

    January 27, 2010 at 12:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Elena

      Absolutely!!! Ditto here. I was never a fan of "Cheers" and Niles' character (David Hyde Pierce) got me hooked on "Frasier." Kelsey Grammer is excellent in "Frasier," but I did not like him in any other shows he did. There are so few people that remember "The Powers That Be" – I was thrilled to see this blog. Maris on "Frasier" just had to be based on Valerie Mahaffee's character. I also wish that they would re-release "The Powers That Be."

      September 7, 2010 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Steve J

    He was the PERFECT casting as Frasier's brother. Likewise, it was perfect for him to be on The Simpsons as Sideshow Bob's (more evil?) brother.

    It's good to see nobody has a bad thing to say about such an apparently wonderful person (at least at the time I wrote this).

    January 26, 2010 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
  14. msrp

    "Miles" was an obvious typo.

    January 26, 2010 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Leslie B.

    I agree, he made Frasier the success that it was. I bought the whole series on DVD late last year and am still making my way through it.

    Kim, you're right, the pants ironing was one of the best comedy scenes ever on TV, and no, there was no dialogue, although I think he may have made little voice/noise comments when he was placing the pants or pans various places.

    January 26, 2010 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Marc

    DHP MADE the Frasier show, in my opinion!!! His delivery, facial expressions, timing, all made that show a hit for 11 years. ONLY when the sexually tension between him and Daphne became less and less, the show lost ground!!! " Frasier" was a bomb in it's last year, because there was nothing more to add to him and Daphne!!!

    January 26, 2010 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
  17. JC

    And a fact-checker.

    January 26, 2010 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
  18. editme

    Spell check programs don't always pick the right word and they don't catch extra words. This needs a proofreader.

    January 26, 2010 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Emily

    Paranormal Activity came out of Slamdance, not Sundance.

    January 26, 2010 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Donna

    Frasier is my all time favorite television show, I still watch the reruns often. DHP is a gifted actor.

    January 26, 2010 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
  21. plh

    DHP is originally from Saratoga Springs, New York. He is not Canadian although Saratoga is in upstate New York.

    January 26, 2010 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Donna W

    I luv this guy!
    Can't wait to see this film.
    I own all of the series of "Fraiser".

    January 26, 2010 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
  23. kba

    I'll be one of the first in the theaters if this gets produced. I'm mad about Mr. Pierce. Loved him as Niles and saw him in NY opening night of Spamalot. He was brilliant. I'd love to see him in something really scary. He's amazingly talented.

    January 26, 2010 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  24. ETB

    Just saw this film at Sundance and it is one of the BEST films of the Festival this year. I hope they get distribution. It was a wild roller coaster ride. I would like to give details but don't want to spoil it for future audiences. It is a thriller, and a black comedy at the same time. While Pierce steals the show, the rest of the cast inclding Crawford turn in great performances. Gotta see it to believe it...

    January 26, 2010 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Shelly

    I love his character on Frasier and I love the fact that he is openly gay. Good for your Pierce, be the best at who you are.

    January 26, 2010 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  26. JC

    "Bug" bucks at the box office. LOL!

    January 26, 2010 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Teresa

    Kelly is referring to the Fraiser episode when Daphne mistakenly refers to Dr. Crane as "Miles", not Niles. It's a nod to the show itself. Relax, folks.

    January 26, 2010 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  28. Nancy in Savannah, Ga.

    David Hyde-Pierce is one of the most talented and versatile actors of our time. What a career, spanning TV, stage and screen. Not many actors out there have such a resume! I cannot wait to see this movie. Kudos to DHP........long may he reign!

    January 26, 2010 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Jo

    Truly a class act. Not many can go from Broadway, too sideshow Bobs brother Cecil. Such a sense of humor! I adore him, and this movie should be great.

    January 26, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  30. Xanatos

    Like Mo'nique, I have always seen the versitile actor in David Hyde Pierce. I have always wanted him to separate himself from "Niles" because I truly new he was capable of so much more. The problem is like with most other long term television roles actors are only identified with the characters that they've portrayed and never given the opportunity to really exercise their acting chops.

    January 26, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  31. Debs in England

    My teenage daughter and I can't WAIT to see anything with David Hyde Pierce. He is an amazing actor! Sadly, we love to watch Frasier reruns – it's go to be pretty darn good when you can laugh at the same lines over and over. (the whole cast is good).

    January 26, 2010 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  32. DJMcG

    I like DHP, but I already saw The Ref..............

    January 26, 2010 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  33. Memphis Slim

    How WONDERFUL to see a thread of positive, gramatically-correct, typo-free comments without a lot of sniping and hostility!

    You made my day, all of ya!

    January 26, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  34. Sudi

    It's very refreshing to read all of these positive comments about DHP. Usually these comment sections are filled with hateful and negative comments that usually have nothing to do with the actual news article. The movie really does sound intriguing, would really like to see it get distributed.

    January 26, 2010 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  35. Jeff

    The "oh, by the way, he did some Broadway" line pretty much misses the point that he chewed up the scenery and got standing ovations every night for "Spamalot", won a Tony for "Curtains", and has done Shakespeare in the Park as well an countless other NYC venues. Indeed, he is a great TV/Movie actor, but don't underplay his stage contributions.

    January 26, 2010 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  36. Erica

    David Hyde Pierce is my favorite actor, ever! He's very talented and i'm sure this movie will be fantastic. I wish him all the best.

    January 26, 2010 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  37. shelly

    LOVE HIM!!!!!

    January 26, 2010 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  38. LBW

    I just love him. I still love the reruns of Frasier.

    January 26, 2010 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  39. nancy

    This sounds like a fantastic movie. I can see David making the transition from mousy little guy to - well, they won't tell us yet, but sounds like a scary or even TOUGH guy. I also was lucky enough to see him perform on Broadway in Spamalot. Got his autograph later, and he was so nice and low-key. I wish him all the success in the world.

    January 26, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  40. Andrea Brunet

    David Hyde Pierce is a phenomenal actor. I am very excited to see him in this next role. Is it me, or does the resemblance between him and Kelsey Grammer just continue to become more and more obvious over time?

    January 26, 2010 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  41. Mike

    Who's Miles?

    January 26, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  42. jake

    have met him over the years and he really is a good guy. genuine and likable.... anyone who saw spamalot on broadway knows what he can do theatrically, so why the big surprise.... hope this movie does well...

    January 26, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  43. dee

    Is Niles Canadian? Iove his telent. Looking forward to more.

    January 26, 2010 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  44. ricky

    i would actually like to see this.

    January 26, 2010 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  45. Geri

    I look forward to seeing this film. I am sure David Hyde Pierce will be great. He is a very good actor; he could bring something to any part he played. P.S., I will always love the Niles; he played this part to perfection.... Geri

    January 26, 2010 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  46. Deb

    I loved David's work for a long time. I like it would be great to see him guest star on Big Bang Theory too.

    January 26, 2010 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  47. Kim

    One of the funniest things I have ever seen was Niles Crane ironing his pants in Frazer's apartment!!! No one but Niles and I dont think he said a word. It was so.....Lucille Ball funny. Actually, if was funnier than Lucy. I have always wanted to see that piece again. I laughed until I cried!!! Niles WAS the star of Frazer and I miss him!!!!

    I will watch for this movie as I very much want to see anything he is in. What a talent!!!!!

    January 26, 2010 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  48. Katherine B.

    David Hyde Pierce is also very devoted to the issue of Alzheimer's disease. He was a celebrity spokesperson for the Alzheimer's Association. I had the opportunity of seeing him at one of the national conventions and he stayed and participated for the entire convention. A really great guy and very down to earth.

    January 26, 2010 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  49. Suzanne Brabant

    Mr. Pierce came to a small town called Hudson (Quebec) a few years ago and was an absolutely charming and polite man who was very nice to the people of tyhe area. Also, "Frasier" was my all time favorite show right up there with I Love Lucy and he was the main reason for that.
    Good luck to you Mr. Pierce.

    January 26, 2010 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  50. Lorraine

    So excited to see this! Mr. Pierce is most definitely one of the most talented actors out there and deserves the recognition. There are just some people who will always draw me to a film because they're in it.....he's one of them.

    January 26, 2010 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  51. sheppard

    Good for DHP – have always really liked him!

    January 26, 2010 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  52. JOYCE FROM NH

    Saw Mr. Pierce in Curtains in NYC. My sister and I stayed after the play outside for an autograph. He an a few cast members came out smiling and signing and answering questions. He is a wonderful human being.

    January 26, 2010 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  53. Jennifer

    Yay, glad to see one of my favorite actors heading back to the big screen! Pierce is a good person who really deserves all his success!

    January 26, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  54. Patricia C

    Wow, I cannot wait to see THIS one. I'm sure it will be fantastic. What an absolutely underrated actor – hope someone picks it up soon!

    January 26, 2010 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  55. Kasey

    Kelly, the name was Niles, not Miles. Saw Mr. Pierce on Broadway a few years back. He's very versatile, and I'm happy to see him getting some feature film work.

    January 26, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  56. ron

    "Niles," not "Miles." Thanks.

    January 26, 2010 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  57. jenny

    I always wanted Daphne and Niles to spin off!! Love David Hyde Pierce.

    January 26, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  58. Jim

    "Worked in the theater, did smaller roles"?!? He won the Tony Award as Best Actor in a Musical, for goodness sakes.

    January 26, 2010 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  59. Kris K

    I would love to get my eyeballs on this. One of the creepiest villains I have ever watched was Richard Thomas (aka John Boy Walton) because he played the part well and you just remembered John Boy so well that seeing him play a psychotic murderer was CHILLING.

    January 26, 2010 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  60. Robert

    I am of the opinion he is one of the most talented actors, not only on the tube but on the stage. He brings something new and fresh to each part he plays. Unlike many "actors" on television he doesn't just show up and smile.

    January 26, 2010 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  61. Kelly Munsen

    I absolutely have enjoyed his work over the years in Frasier. I think he would make an awsome villian simply because of his "on screen" personality (s) and not to mention such a versatile physical actor.He certainly carries a side to him that could easily be carried over to such. He is one in a million and even though I am not as nearly as intelligent as "Miles" nor understand half of the things he says. He is a very intriguing person. I would appreciate anything Mr. Peirce would bring to and at any screen small or large. Good luck!!!

    January 26, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |

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