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David Hyde Pierce on his worst theater experience and his new film, “The Perfect Host”

David Hyde Pierce played lovable psychiatrist Dr. Niles Crane on the NBC sitcom Frasier from 1993 to 2004, but you won’t find him cracking too many jokes in his latest project, thriller The Perfect Host.

Pierce has remained open to a variety of roles ever since Frasier ended, and he continues to spread his wings in The Perfect Host, in which he plays a man who unwittingly welcomes a fugitive into his home.

“I liked the script and the character, and it fulfilled a career goal, which was to have people see me doing something other than what they’re used to seeing me do on television,” Pierce said in a recent interview. “That’s not hard to do in the theater — my stage work after Frasier was very different from Niles — but it’s different in the bigger media.”

Pierce has also been embracing theatre in recent years, having performed in productions of A Wonderful Life, Children and Art, Spamalot, Curtains, Accent on Youth and La Bête since Frasier went off the air seven years ago.  “I couldn’t imagine doing television better than we’d done it for the 11 years we were on… I was completely happy, satisfied, sated with my experience in television, and I wanted something different. I would periodically do plays during breaks from Frasier, so it wasn’t like I’d totally left the theater,” he explained.
In the interview, the 52-year-old actor recalled his theatrical low-point, where he found himself as a young actor in 1982. “I’m pretty sure that (my) worst performance was at Manhattan Theatre Club in a production of Edward Bond’s Summer,” he said. “I was just terrible. It was my second professional job, right out of college. I hadn’t gone to drama school, so things that I perhaps should have learned before going on the professional stage, I learned while I was on the professional stage. One of the things I learned doing that play was that the voice in your head that says ‘This doesn’t feel right’ is a voice you should listen to and act on.”

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