10 Questions with David Alan Grier

David Alan Grier (Photo courtesy of Toyota Motorsports)
Tony Award nominee and graduate of Yale School of Drama, actor/comedian David Alan Grier is one of those unique actors who has yet to be typecast in one dramatic realm. Over the years, he has successfully made the jump from comedy to television to film and still alternates between all three.

Perhaps best known for his work on the acclaimed Fox TV series In Living Color, David Alan Grier has helped create some of their most memorable characters; including Antoine Merriwether of "Men On...," old Calhoun Tubbs the blues singer and fast-talking Clavell of "Funky Finger Productions."

Now he's starring with Delta Burke (Designing Women) in the playful White House comedy, DAG, about a demoted Secret Service agent, Jerome Daggett (Grier), who must guard the demanding First Lady, Judith Whitman (Burke).

A native of Detroit, David Alan Grier attended the University of Michigan and received his Bachelor of Arts in Radio, Television and Film. He received his master's degree from the Yale School of Drama and soon after, began his professional career on Broadway in The First, a musical about Black baseball pioneer Jackie Robinson. Grier's portrayal of Robinson earned him both critical praise and a Tony nomination in 1981.

Following The First, David joined the cast of Michael Bennett's hit musical Dreamgirls. He then went on to star with Adolph Cesar and Denzel Washington in the critically-acclaimed Off-Broadway production of A Soldier's Play, roles which all three actors continued in Norman Jewison's highly successful film version, A Soldier's Story.

Trained in Shakespeare at Yale, Crier performed the role of Richmond in Richard III with Kevin Kline at the New York Shakespeare Festival. He also starred in "Peer Gynt" at the Williamstown Theatre Festival and "Distant Fires" at the Hartford Stage Company.

Between films and plays and TV shows, David came to Long Beach, California, to race in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity race of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in a 10-lap sprint to raise money for charity. SportsHollywood caught up with David at the celebrity practice at Willow Springs raceway in California on March 10, and asked a few questions.


SportsHollywood: How did you get involved in this race?

DAG: The first time I did it, they asked me to do it... I was never into sports cars. I would look at guys with Porsches and say, "Why did you buy that car? It's a ridiculous pursuit." But after that first race I couldn't run to the Porsche dealership fast enough, saying "Gimme that!!!"

SportsHollywood: So before this you weren't interested in racing?

DAG: It's like ever since we were little kids and we had slot car races -- we had a Le Mans track set up in my basement -- every little kid has always wanted to be a race car driver. This gets some of that out.

SportsHollywood: So are you getting more serious about racing?

DAG: No! I'm an actor who gets to race for free! That's it! You won't see me blowing my residual money on some cheezy, high-priced sports car! (Discretely moves away from his Porsche.)

SportsHollywood: What's the fastest you've ever driven outside of a race?

DAG: One hundred and fifty one miles an hour on the five. That same car that I bought. I got like three tickets in the first week and the cop finally said, "Take it outside of L.A. -- at least off of Sepulvida." I've got it out of my system now, though.

SportsHollywood: Was that you that passed me like I was standing still on the way out here this morning?

DAG: There's no way I was going over sixty-two. I clocked myself.

SportsHollywood: Which is a bigger dream-come-true: Becoming a famous actor or being able to drive over 20 mph on a street in Southern California?

DAG: To be known by the public, honestly. People come up and tell them how good I make them feel... besides, NOBODY goes 20 mph in Southern California.

SportsHollywood: Rate the competition here: Who is the biggest threat out here?

DAG: Myself, man. Come on -- please. You got Billy Blanks -- he's too busy working out. You got Piper Perabo -- she can't even shift. You got Jim Kelly -- I thought it was the brother with the Afro from the karate movies. Turns out he's some white boy calling himself a football player. Please!

SportsHollywood: What about William Shatner? He raced in 1978...

DAG: Apparently he forgot everything!

SportsHollywood: Piper says you've been stalking her since you did Rocky and Bullwinkle together.

DAG: (Rolls eyes) Women. They catch you behind one bush...

SportsHollywood: And there was a restraining order?

DAG: Yeah, but that's just a part of dating nowadays. I'll break her down.

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Interview by Dan Mahin and Jeff Hause

Alan Grier David Alan Grier: Actor
MOVIES: The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle (2000), Stuart Little (1999), McHale's Navy (1997), Jumanji (1995), Blankman (1994), Boomerang (1992), The Player (1992), I'm Gonna Git You Sucka (1988), A Soldier's Story (1984)
TV SERIES: DAG (2001), The '60s (1999), Damon (1998), The Preston Episodes (1995), "All Is Forgiven" (1986), In Living Color (1990)

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