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David Hyde Pierce: What I Know Now

The Emmy-winning ‘Frasier’ star on acting, sports and starring on Broadway with Bette Midler in ‘Hello, Dolly!’

David Hyde Pierce: What I Know Now

Patrick James Miller

David Hyde Pierce: What I Know Now

Just say yes … or no
I wasn't sure I wanted to do Hello, Dolly! My husband [writer-producer Brian Hargrove] said, "You should!" — but I wasn't positive. Then my agent put it in perspective: "David, it's Bette Midler, and at the end of the day, she's coming down those stairs. He was right. You either sign on for that or do something else. Besides, Bette and I made a movie together [Isn't She Great], so I knew we'd be comfortable.

Always an actor
The first acting I ever did was a fourth-grade version of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, which I adapted for my friends. I insisted that I get to play Caesar so I could be killed, because I thought that was the most theatrical thing ever.  

Sports and theater
In sports, you’re coached to understand the other team, to undermine and overpower them. In theater, you’re coached to understand people just to understand them. You need both. If you have one without the other, you have an impoverished culture. There’s competition in the arts, just as there’s artistry in sports.

Everybody's problem
I saw what Alzheimer's did to my grandfather and to my grandma, who took care of him. In L.A., I became involved with the Alzheimer's Association — and in New York, with CaringKind. What gives me hope is the number of young people who've gotten involved.

Awards are overrated
I’ve won some Emmys [Editor’s note: Four! ], but you can be good without getting an award … I think … I could be wrong....

How our stories unfold
I was never secretive about being gay, but I’m a private person. Eventually, pressure came from the gay community to be more open, and justifiably so. I came out, so to speak, and a year later, after 25 years together, Brian and I got married quietly, with just our dogs there. It was reported both as a “private” and a “secret” marriage — two different things! Ultimately, it was a matter of recognizing one’s responsibility in the public eye.

The world’s a better place
Everything is not in a downward spiral. I have friends on the left and the right. It’s amazing to me that everyone — on the right and left, gay or straight, whatever your race — is fighting for the same thing: the right for a space to be themselves. That goes on forever.

—As told to Bill Newcott  

Hello, Dolly! starring Bette Midler and David Hyde Pierce is playing at New York’s Schubert Theatre