A supporting player of American stage, TV, and film who has specialized in playing neurotic and priggish men of privilege, Pierce made his professional debut on Broadway in Christopher Durang's "Beyond Therapy" (1982) before working off-Broadway and in regional theater. Onstage, billed as David Pierce, the Yale graduate distinguished himself as Laertes to Kevin Kline's "Hamlet" (1986), toured the Soviet Union and Japan in "The Cherry Orchard" (1988-89) and won plaudits for his turn as a gay pediatrician opposite Christine Lahti in Wendy Wasserstein's award-winning "The Heidi Chronicles" (1989-90).
Pierce made his first brief screen appearance as a doomed trucker in James Cameron's "The Terminator" (1984). In 1988, billed under his full name, David Hyde Pierce, he had a bit part as a bartender in "Bright Lights, Big City" (1988). Additional small film roles followed in "Rocket Gibraltar," "Crossing Delancey" and "Vampire's Kiss" (all 1988). Pierce went on to larger, though still decidedly supporting, roles as Jeff Bridges' agent in Terry Gilliam's "The Fisher King" and Dianne Wiest's assistant in Jodie Foster's directorial debut "Little Man Tate" (both 1991). He was a member of Meg Ryan's family in Nora Ephron's "Sleepless in Seattle" and the obstetrician delivering Morticia's son in "Addams Family Values" (both 1993) as well as Jack Nicholson's underling in "Wolf" (1994). Oliver Stone cast the actor for his likeness to the real-life John Dean in the biopic "Nixon" (1995). Pierce had a rare romantic role as an astrophysicist who intrigues a camp counselor (Janeane Garofalo) in the period comedy "Wet Hot American Summer" (2001).
Television sitcoms have provided Pierce with two showcase roles. He played a terribly depressed, comically suicidal congressman on Norman Lear's fleeting political sitcom, "The Powers That Be" (NBC, 1992-93). Pierce followed with a major winner, the "Cheers" spin-off "Frasier" (NBC, 1993-2004). Originally, the series did not feature a sibling for Kelsey Grammer's title character, but producers were struck by Pierce's physical resemblance to Grammer and specifically created the role of Niles Crane, the snobbish, neurotic younger brother, for Pierce. Playing well off Grammer and co-stars John Mahoney, Peri Gilpin and Jane Leeves, Pierce created a memorable, deadpan scene-stealer, earning critical kudos and awards, including four Emmy Awards.
Keeping the laughs coming, Pierce was cast in the Steven Soderbergh-directed ensemble of "Full Frontal" (2002) in a seriocomic role as a magazine writer trapped in a complicated marriage, and used his voice for Farrelly Brothers' semi-animated "Osmosis Jones" (2001) and the Disney animated family feature "Treasure Planet" (2002). He was also seen in fine form as an uptight character reminsicent of the Tony Randall roles in the frothy Doris Day-Rock Hudson romantic comedies of the 1950s paid homage to in "Down With Love" (2003). The actor also provided, uncredited, the voice of supporting character Abe Sapien in the hit comic book adaptation "Hellboy" (2004).
Hyde's next high-profile project was on the stage, playing Sir Robin, a timid knight of the Round Table who soils himself whenever frightened, in Eric Idle's Broadway production of "Spamalot," a theatrical adaptation of the 1975 film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." Looking lunatic in a long blond wig, Hyde Pierce earned rave reviews for his turn as the effete and dryly humorous Sir Robin, particularly with his humorous, showstopping number which declares "You won't succeed on Broadway if you don't have any Jews."
Away from the screen Hyde Pierce was a tireless advocate for Alzheimer's research, and appeared before the Senate in 2005 to announce the reintroduction of the Ronald Reagan Alzheimer's Breakthrough Act which would authorize Congress to double federal research funding annually.
Cast (Feature Film)
Began selling ties at Bloomingdale's while studying acting
Moved to NYC after graduating from Yale
Broadway acting debut, "Beyond Therapy"
Moved to Minneapolis, MN; appeared in various productions at the Guthrie Theater
Played Laertes in a New York Shakespeare Festival production of "Hamlet", starring Kevin Kline
First film appearance, bit role in "Bright Lights, Big City"
Cast as Dr Niles Crane, brother of the title character, on the NBC sitcom "Frasier"; role created especially for him due to his physical resemblance to actor Kelsey Grammer
Had featured role in "Sleepless in Seattle"
Portrayed John Dean in Oliver Stone's biopic "Nixon"
Cast as fictionalized version of book editor Michael Korda, called Michael Hastings in "Isn't She Great", the biopic of Jacqueline Susann
Voiced a rookie cold tablet in "Osmosis Jones"
Played an astrophysicist in "Wet Hot American Summer"
Starred opposite Uta Hagen in the L.A. stage production "Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks"
Cast in Soderbergh's "Full Frontal"
Voiced the character Dr. Doppler in the Disney animated feature "Treasure Planet"
Cast in the feature "Down With Love"
Received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series for his role in "Frasier"
Voice of Abe Sapien in the horror film "Hellboy"
Co-starred in "Spamalot," Eric Idle's Broadway musical version of 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail'
Played a Boston detective in the Kander and Ebb musical, "Curtains" at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles; show moved to Broadway in 2007
Earned a Grammy nomination for Best Spoken Word for the Children's album, <i>The Phantom Tollbooth</i>