‘Frasier’: This Major Actor Turned Down the Lead Role During a ‘Snobbish’ Phase

by Megan Molseed

When the character of Frasier Crane was first introduced on the classic TV barroom sitcom series Cheers, few likely knew the major impact the character would have on pop culture as a whole. However, after years of being one of the Cheers regulars, Kelsey Grammer’s Dr. Frasier Crane set out for Seattle in a spin-off series, Frasier. This TV sitcom series hit became one of the most popular shows of all time, pulling in multiple awards for the cast, primarily Grammer who brought the titular character to life.

However, Grammer nearly missed out on this role when showrunners first approached another actor for the part. But this film actor was going through a self-described “snobbish” phase prompting him to turn down a sitcom role.

One Major Movie Star Missed Out On One Of TV’s Biggest Roles

Longtime actor John Lithgow is known for some memorable film roles over the years. He later went on to star in the hilarious screwball comedy series Third Rock From the Sun. However, long before his popular TV series hit the airwaves, Cheers showrunners approached the actor, offering him the role of Frasier Crane. But Lithgow turned the role down during what he would later call his “snobbish” phase.

“They approached my agent. They did offer it to me,” Lithgow has said of the Cheers showrunners offering him the role of Frasier Crane.

“It was during my very snobbish early years in Hollywood,” the star adds.

“And I still had Broadway fairy dust all over me,” Lithgow quips. “I simply was never going to even consider doing a weekly comedy series.”

Lithgow adds that his mind was so focused on his film career at the time of the offer that he forgot about the offer shortly after it was made. “I had totally forgotten that this offer,” he explains.

“Even after Cheers and Fraiser … I did not remember,” Lithgow says “It had just come and gone …”

Kelsey Grammer Brings The Role Of Frasier Crane To Life

Lithgow is quick to note that he never regretted turning down the role of Frasier Crane. After all, the longtime actor says, the spin-off series would not have been a hit with him in this role.

“I never regretted it and I still don’t regret it,” Lithgow says.

Frasier would not have been the hit it was with me,” he explains, noting that the series was “an extraordinary hit” because of its cast, primarily Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce. In fact, he adds, Pierce’s role was created because he looks so much like Kelsey Grammer.

“[The character] was created because he (David) looked so much like Kelsey from what I have heard,” Lithgow says.

“I defer to Kelsey, he’s fantastic in it,” he adds. “He really is better than I ever would have been and I got 3rd Rock From The Sun.”