Netflix’s Like Father: Kelsey Grammer on fatherhood and more

Kelsey GrammerKelsey Grammer. Photo by Marriska Fernandes is one of the nicest actors you’ll meet. As a father of seven, he enjoys fatherhood and explains how that helped him prepare for his role in the new Netflix original film Like Father.

The film stars Kristen Bell as Rachel, a workaholic woman left at the altar. Showing up for the wedding unannounced is her father, Harry (Grammer), whom she hasn’t seen since she was five. They go for drinks and she wakes up to find herself on her Caribbean honeymoon cruise accompanied by her dad.

The movie is written and directed by Lauren Miller Rogen, and Seth Rogen also plays a role in the film.

I sat down with Kelsey in Los Angeles to discuss the film and how fatherhood influenced his on-screen role. ~Marriska Fernandes

What was the huge draw for you in wanting to be a part of this story?
When I read the script I recognized who the guy was and thought I could play him. I realized I hadn’t played a part like that before. That’s always one thing I like. He was a guy with a past who wanted to resolve something. I liked that he came in the hopes of connecting. It was about love, about heart. Those are some of the things in my boxes to check. It checked quite a few of them.

How did you identify with Harry?
Honestly, I had a similar experience with my second oldest daughter, Greer. I didn’t see her for several years… like about 10 years. We met again when she was 16. I’ve had a great relationship since, it’s been pretty rewarding. It had some echoes of that experience for me. Why people end up not seeing their kids is a hard thing. And Harry’s decision came out of love, but it also came out of selfishness. But that’s in his past and now he becomes a new man.

What do you love about being a father and how did that transition on screen?
My love of being a father is just watching new life — I love watching my children grow up. Also, I had a funny experience. My wife was pregnant at the time. I had to go abroad for three days. She was going to have our second child… our first son. I was walking through the lobby of a giant hotel and heard a screaming child and I just lit up with joy! Just the sound of a baby crying… that’s sort of who I’ve become. I just love life. I love to have kids around. I love watching them grow. I love being a part of their lives. I love passing on to them, not who I am, but I love passing on to them the idea that their life is going to be great! They can be in charge of that and decide how to live their lives. Hopefully they’ll learn a few lessons from me that’ll help guide them as wisely as possible through the turmoil of youth and the ongoing struggles.

That’s sweet! Were there any tough moments while filming?
There were a lot! I cry at the drop of a hat! There were a couple of scenes I really lost it there (laughs). They had to pull it back a bit.

It was quite emotional.
Yeah, it was pretty emotional. Some of that is Lauren and her own personal experience with Alzheimer’s was a part of this story… the subtext of this story. I was proud to be involved in that, to service her story. There is a kind of undercurrent of sadness in it. It makes it very funny, but the underpinnings are very emotional. It’s rewarding to be a part of the movie.

What did Lauren bring to the table as a first-time director?
She brought confidence. She seemed very well prepared. All films have roadblocks you don’t anticipate, like we had hurricanes.

Did you guys really go zip lining?
Yeah, the zip lining was really fun. I didn’t jump off the waterfall. I said I would, but she said, “No, I’m not going to let you do that.” Sort of disappointed, I’ll go back one day (laughs).

Kelsey Grammer and Kristen BellCan you talk a bit about creating that father-daughter bond on screen with Kristen?
Kristen is terrific. She’s just a real pro. She shows up and she’s got her lines ready. You don’t wait around for her, which is a really nice thing. She shows up and that to me is the mark of anybody I like working with. She is available, emotional, she is professional. My idea of a job well done is show up in the morning and leave early (laughs).

Also, I loved the karaoke scene!

It took us a while to figure out that. We had a couple of songs there. We shot one that was different. We danced and everything, but it was just not the right song. So I got a call that we’re going to do a different song and I’m like, “Alright, it’s a little on the nose.” What’s funny is that they actually have a character say that: “It’s a little on the nose.” But it ended up being more of a celebration about their experience on that cruise. I think it finally paid off.

In order to bond with her father Rachel has to detach from her phone and do a whole lot of soul-searching. What’s your go-to when you need to do some soul-searching?Marriska Fernandes and Kelsey Grammer. Photo courtesy Marriska Fernandes
I pretty much spend most of my time doing that (laughs). I’ve always been on this journey, “What does it all mean? Is it important? What do I want to leave in my life?” I hope people will think I told some truths and entertained.

What’s next for you?
I’m working on a movie called The Space Between. It’s about an old rock and roller, but it’s set in the ’90s so it’s about a guy who was pretty successful around ’70… ’71 and he’s not having a great career anymore and what happens to him. It’s fun… sort of an homage to a lot of rockers. It’s something I’ve never done before. We’re singing an album basically, cut three tracks already. I play piano and sing a song with my daughter. There’s a father/daughter rapprochement story line in it. It’s great, he rediscovers himself. It’s actually fun. We shot yesterday, we were running around naked (laughs). It’s pretty wild.

Wishing you all the best. Thank you for the chat!
Thank you!

Like Father premieres on Netflix today (Aug. 3). Click here to read our interview with Lauren Miller Rogen and click here to read our interview with Seth Rogen.

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Comments & Discussion

  1. Sharon • August 4, 2018 @ 1:21 PM

    Im thrilled to hear that Kelsey Grammer is acting once again. He is so talented and can portray any character perfectly for a role. When going thru chemo treatments, I kept my spirits up by DVRing and watching all of the old Frasier shows, even seeing them a second or third time still made me laugh. Thanks Mr Grammer for sharing your great talent with the world.

  2. Nicole • August 5, 2018 @ 11:01 PM

    He loves being a father but didn’t see his daughter for 10 years. I don’t get it. There’s something off about that story.

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