Kelsey Grammer – ‘Faith on Frasier’

The multi award winning TV sitcom Frasier made actor Kelsey Grammer one of the top comedy actors of the modern era. 

It was back in 1984 that Kelsey first appeared as psychiatrist Dr Frasier Crane in series three of the TV sitcom Cheers. Although he was only scheduled to appear in six episodes, he was an instant hit with viewers and was taken on as a regular member of the cast. 

Following almost a decade in Cheers, September 1993 saw Kelsey again playing the popular psychiatrist in his own series. Frasier quickly became as popular as Cheers and made household names out of the whole cast. In addition to starring as the likeable radio psychiatrist, Grammer also directed over 30 of the episodes. The series ended in 2004, but due to enduring popularity a new Frasier series was launched in 2023. 

Although best known for comedy, Kelsey has played a host of serious roles. A very flexible actor, he spent time as a Shakespearian actor following his training at the Old Globe Theatre. Amongst a large array of characters in various genres, he has also played Dr. Hank McCoy / Beast in the superhero movies X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and The Marvels.

Jesus Revolution

But it was after he finished the film Jesus Revolution in 2024 that his wife Kayte Walsh said tearfully that it was his best ever performance. Kelsey played the leading role as American pastor Chuck Smith. He told USA Today, 

“My wife and I saw it together. She was just dissolved in tears and said, ‘It’s the best thing you’ve ever done’.”

He continued,

“It’s really uplifting. It’s a good movie… What Chuck did went back to one of the basic precepts of Christianity, which is inclusion.”

Jesus Revolution is the true story of a nationwide Christian revival that happened in the United States in the 1970s. Chuck Smith was an evangelical pastor leading a declining conservative congregation in Southern California. When challenged with the job of discipling a group of young hippy converts, he was initially reluctant. But after prayer and consideration, pastor Chuck took the challenge seriously and proceeded to help the new converts to become strong Christians. 

National revival

Initially a small local revival in a hippy commune, the movement began to grow substantially after the natural leader of the group, Lonnie Frisbee (played by Jonathan Roumie from The Chosen), met pastor Chuck Smith. Smith opened the doors of Calvary Chapel to the young people hoping to bring them closer to God. The plan was successful and the movement was nicknamed “Jesus people” or “Jesus freaks.” 

One clear difference with other hippy groups was that they largely rejected alcohol and drugs, which had been commonly associated with hippies. They soon found that worship and fellowship with other Christians helped them to develop a Christ-like character where they didn’t need drugs and alcohol to make them happy.

It wasn’t long before Calvary Chapel Church could no longer hold the rapidly expanding congregation, so they erected a large tent in 1971 which became the hub of the Jesus Movement. There they were able to hold three Sunday morning services, concerts on most nights, and Bible studies. The Jesus Movement spread across North America and helped to bring revival across many parts of Europe and Central America. By 2006, Calvary Chapel Church had spawned over 1,000 new churches with a total attendance of over 35,000. 

Kelsey’s Growing faith

Kelsey felt honoured to play Pastor Chuck Smith, who died in 2013. Chuck was a charismatic character who helped to change the lives of tens of thousands of people. The ‘Jesus People’ grew rapidly throughout the 1970s helping mainly young people to find peace and genuine reciprocal love. His small church grew into a new national denomination, one of the first to incorporate rock music and bring a more contemporary and accessible style to the church at large. 

Kelsey Grammer is now a strong and committed Christian, but he says that he has had plenty of ups and downs along the way.

I’ve had hiccups. I’ve had some tragic times. I have wrestled with those and worked my way through them: sometimes rejecting faith, sometimes rejecting God even, in a period of being pretty angry about it, like, ‘Where were you?’ That kind of thing.”

He adds, 

“What Chuck did went back to one of the basic precepts of Christianity, which is inclusion.

Lasting Friendship

Kelsey built up a strong and lasting friendship with Lonnie Frisbee during the making of the film, which in turn helped Kelsey’s faith to grow.

It became a great adventure, which is still going on.”

Speaking of his personal faith, he says,

“It’s not cavalier — Jesus made a difference in my life. That’s not anything I’ll apologise for.”


Photo attribution: Kelsey Grammer in 2010, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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