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Finding ‘grace’ on stage

tv Updated: Aug 02, 2012 03:57 IST

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Actor Topher Grace enjoys the non-linear route his career has taken since making his acting debut as the gangly teen Eric Forman on the sitcom That 70s Show. “I love playing good guys. I love playing bad guys. I love theatre. I love film. I love watching TV. I want a passport to everywhere. I don’t want to be exclusive to one thing. That is a huge problem for my agents because I think I would make more money if I focused on one specific type of character or genre ... but especially while I'm young and single, I really want to explore everything.”

His latest ventures, the lead in the off-Broadway play Lonely, I'm Not and an independent film called The Giant Mechanical Man, are examples of his varied roles. In Lonely, I’m Not, Grace plays Porter, a guy who got divorced, lost his job and had a nervous breakdown. Things start to change when he falls in love with a blind businesswoman played by Olivia Thirlby. The play is written by Paul Weitz, who directed Grace in the 2004 film In Good Company. It’s the 33-year-old’s professional theatre debut, although his performance in a school production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum is what got him discovered. The parents of a classmate were Bonnie and Terry Turner, who ended up creating That 70s Show.

“I promise you, I was not that good in the musical,” Grace insisted, adding, “I still don’t know what the producers saw in me.” In The Giant Mechanical Man, Grace plays a self-obsessed, self-help guru who dates a woman searching for meaning played by Jenna Fischer. He sports long hair in the movie, directed by Fischer’s real-life husband Lee Kirk.