Five Favorite Films with David Hyde Pierce
RT chats with the star of Frasier and the new psychological thriller The Perfect Host.
There's a lot more to David Hyde Pierce
than Niles Crane. Though he's best known for his multi-Emmy-winning role as a highbrow, fastidious shrink on Frasier
, Pierce has carved out a distinctive career on stage (he won a Tony Award for his starring role in the musical Curtains
in 2007) and as a voice actor (key roles in A Bug's Life
, Treasure Planet
, and The Simpsons
). In the psychological thriller The Perfect Host
, Pierce plays a man preparing for a dinner party when an escaped fugitive turns up at his door; what follows is as twisty as a corkscrew, and audiences expecting good ol' Niles are in for a surprise. In an interview with RT, Pierce shared his favorite films, and discussed his juicy role in The Perfect Host
, how he prepares for a role, and the legacy of Frasier
I would say... It's a really hard question to answer, first of all, because there are so many great films, and it's hard to pick just a few. But certainly, Bonnie and Clyde is one. It's perfectly cast, beautifully shot, and that ballet of death at the end was something unlike anything I'd ever seen before. [Everyone in the cast] were incredible. Estelle Parsons, oh my gosh.
The Godfather. The palette of the movie, the colors. There's something about the production design and the cinematography. Everything about that. I mean, I like the story, the characters, all that, but the thing, when I think of the movie -- like if I'm flipping channels and it's on, I have to stop and watch it -- the thing that catches me is always just its rich, rich, rich deep palette. It's incredible. I mean, they're all great films, the first one especially. When I was a kid and it was on TV, I would always have to go make spaghetti and watch it. I could not watch that movie without having spaghetti and tomato sauce. There was just something so evocative about those guys making sauce in the kitchen.
Horror of Dracula. First of all, the match up of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee was so brilliant. They were so great together. Plus, the ending -- I hate to say this, because you've to see it -- when Dracula has Van Helsing at his mercy, and the sun's come up outside, and Van Helsing tears down the curtains, so the sun comes streaming in, and then takes two candlesticks and forms a cross. It's just so cool. And I think that's the first time anybody ever did that in a movie; now they do all kinds of versions of that thing. But I just thought that was pretty brilliant writing.
I will give you Unfinished Piece for the Player Piano. Oh, it's a great movie. It's a Russian movie; [Nikita] Mikhalkov is the director, and it's a Checkhov play, really -- it's based on Platonov. Chekhov is unbelievably difficult to do, to capture the mood, to capture the humor, the incredible sadness and pathos of the characters, all that. It's very rare that you see a great production of Checkhov. I saw this when I was rehearsing a production of The Cherry Orchard. The great British director Peter Brook was directing, and he set up a screening of this movie for us. It's just, it's also a beautiful movie to look at, and also it was a great director, but it's the characters, both the acting and the depiction of this wonderful, very specific group of Russian characters is unmatched.
Next, Pierce talks what audiences expect of him, how he prepares for a role, and the legacy of Frasier.
Last one is A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy. I don't think it's up there on most people's lists. I just think it's so beautiful. It's very funny, but very gentle, and it also deals with issues of life and death in a very serious way. I can remember every time I saw it crying at the end. And part of it, too, is [Woody Allen] makes this incredibly good use of Mendelssohn's music. I think the entire score is -- I'm not sure about the soundtrack -- but the score is Mendelssohn. I just think it's a really exquisite piece of filmmaking.