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You know him as the crotchety dad from Frasier. But John Mahoney is also a distinguished theatre actor whose career has followed a singular trajectory.
Roisin Dwyer, 31 Jul 2012
John Mahoney may be best known for his role as Kelsey Grammer’s on-screen father in the multi-award winning sitcom Frasier, but the Chicago-based actor is a seasoned star of the stage, a member of the legendary Steppenwolf Theatre Company and also has numerous silver-screen credits to his name including two Coen Brothers outings; Barton Fink and The Hudsucker Proxy and global smash coming-of-age film Reality Bites.
Mahoney is currently preparing for his fifth visit to the Galway Arts Festival where he will take the lead role in Bruce Graham’s The Outgoing Tide which tells the story of a family coming to terms with unforeseen circumstances. He’s brimming with enthusiasm about his return to the City of the Tribes.
“I’m so looking forward to coming back to Galway with this play,” he says. “It’s beautifully written and tells a great story. It’s actually a very Irish play although the playwright is American. When I say Irish I mean it’s about a very dark subject but is so side-splittingly funny at times! It reminds me of Irish drama in general in that way, right in the middle of a laugh you start to cry and right in the middle of a sob you start to laugh.”
Mahoney, who left Manchester to move to the US when he was 19, started his acting career relatively late in life, at age 37. He gave up his secure job writing for a medical journal to pursue his dream.
“When I look back on it I don’t know how I ever had the nerve, I was never that ballsy if you’ll excuse the expression,” he laughs. “I guess I was at such a point in my life where I was thinking, if I have to do this one more day I’ll have to kill myself. I had had enough of writing about cataracts and haemorrhoids!”
David Mamet gave Mahoney his first break casting him in The Water Engine and the rest is history; he has never been out of work since. Despite the variety of roles under his belt, does it ever frustrate him he is best-known for his Frasier role?
“No it doesn’t and the people who cast me never seem to let it bother them either, I have never been typecast,” he states. “I loved every minute of Frasier and I’m very proud of it.”