American actor Lee Pace was launched to prominence with his portrayal of transsexual nightclub singer Calpernia Addams on the Showtime film A Soldier’s Girl (2003) from which he won a Gotham Award, an Independent Spirit nomination, a Golden Satellite nomination, and his first Golden Globe nomination. After a stint on the short-lived series “Wonderfalls” (2004), which marked his introduction to creator Bryan Fuller, the Juilliard-trained performer was brought back to the television spotlight with his Emmy and Golden Globe nominated performance as Ned on the Fuller-created series “Pushing Daisies” (ABC, 2007-2009), a role specially written for him. Pace also netted a Saturn nomination and two Satellite nominations for his work on the show. On getting his Emmy nomination, Pace said, “Oh, it’s nice! It was a nice surprise. I truly wasn’t expecting it. My dog woke me up because he wakes me up every morning to go on a hike, and then I looked at my messages and saw I had about 20, 30 messages. I remembered that it was Emmy nominations and figured I’d been nominated.”
Pace is also known for playing supporting roles in such movies as James Ivory’s The White Countess (2005), Douglas McGrath’s Infamous (2006), Tarsem Singh’s The Fall (2006), Robert De Niro’s The Good Shepherd (2006) and Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2008). He also co-starred with Sarah Michelle Gellar in Possession (shown at the Cannes Film Market in 2008). Moviegoers should not miss his performance in the Tom Ford-director, based-on-novel drama, A Single Man (2009).
Pace and his “Pushing Daisies” costar, Anna Friel, developed a good friendship. He is also friends with actresses Kristin Chenoweth (also in the cast of “Pushing Daisies”) and Amy Adams, who worked with him in the film Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day. Pace mentions Daniel Day-Lewis as his favorite actor. While in New York City, he often visits the same coffee shop as Day-Lewis so he can see the actor.
» Childhood & Family
Lee Grinner Pace was born on March 25, 1979, in Chickasha, Oklahoma, to James, an engineer in the oil business, and Charlotte, a school educator. Because of his dad’s profession, Lee and his family moved often when he was a kid. He spent several years of his childhood in Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates before returning to the United States, where his family eventually settled in Houston, Texas.
Lee attended high school in Houston. He frequently left school to perform at the local Alley Theatre and later dropped out. He returned to complete his final high school courses at Klein High School and graduated in 1997. Shortly thereafter, he went to New York City to attend the prestigious Juilliard School, from which he got a BFA in drama. Among his classmates at Juilliard were actors Tracie Thoms and Anthony Mackie.
Lee has two younger siblings, Will and Sally. He loved comic books and cartoons as a child. As a teenager, he developed an interest in swimming, but was forced to quit because it gave him earaches that threatened his ability to hear. Currently residing in Los Angeles, Lee enjoys spending his free time riding his bike and watching his favorite TV reality show on Bravo, “The Real Housewives of New York City.” He also loves sky diving and traveling. Lee has a dog (English Pointer) named Carl, who he states is the most awesome thing in his life.
Lee Pace began acting in high school where he performed with the local Alley Theatre in such productions of The Spider’s Web and The Greeks. A Juilliard graduate, he acted in several plays during his stint at the school, including Romeo and Juliet, Richard II, and Julius Caesar, before launching his professional stage debut with a starring role in the off-Broadway production of The Credeaux Canvas, where he gained critical acclaim for his performance. He next performed in a Vineyard production of The Fourth Sister (2002).
Pace quickly made the jump to television with a small role in an episode of “Law & Order: Special Victim Unit” called “Guilt,” which aired on March 22, 2002. His breakthrough arrived the following year when he landed the starring role of Calpernia Addams/Scottie in the Showtime original movie Soldier’s Girl, based on a true story of a young soldier beaten to death for falling in love with a transgendered nightclub performer. The powerful drama premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 20, 2003, where it became a hit and won the 2004 Peabody Award. It also received such nominations as a 2004 GLAAD nomination for Outstanding Television Movie or Mini-Series, a Golden Globe nomination for Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture made for Television, a 2004 Satellite nomination for Best Motion Picture Made for Television, and a 2004 Television Critics Association nomination for Outstanding Movie, Miniseries or Special. Under the direction of Frank Pierson, Pace netted a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television, an Independent Spirit nomination for Best Male Lead, a Golden Satellite nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Miniseries or a Motion Picture Made for Television, and the Breakthrough Award at the Gotham Galas.
“Not even my excellent training at Juilliard prepared me for my first movie role, where I played a transsexual who falls in love with a military guy in Soldier’s Girl. Here I was, this 6’3″ 190 pound lanky kid from Chickasha, Oklahoma, not knowing how to begin being a woman. So I saw documentaries about transsexuals, I lost twenty five pounds, and I put on prosthetic boobs and hips to become that character. There were times I’d look in the mirror and wonder, ‘What am I doing to my life here? My dad is going to kill me!’ But the reason I went into acting was to be able to play parts as complicated and important as this one. In playing a transsexual, I got the chance to help change people’s perspective about other people and that is a powerful thing. I’m playing a swashbuckling bandit in my next film, but I’ll always be proud of Soldier’s Girl.”
He next starred in the off-Broadway production Small Tragedy (2004), by Craig Lucas, and received a Lucille Lortel nomination in the category of Outstanding Actor for his acting. He resurfaced on the small screen with the regular role of Aaron Tyler in Fox’s “Wonderfalls” (2004), which was created by Bryan Fuller and Todd Holland. Although the show obtained a cult following, it was canceled after four episodes.
Pace bounced back the next year with a performance in the James Ivory war film The White Countess (2005), starring Natasha Richardson. He followed it up with the noted supporting role of Dick Hickock, a convicted murderer, in director Douglas McGrath’s Infamous (2006), adapted from George Plimpton’s 1997 book Capote: In Which Various Friends, Enemies, Acquaintances and Detractors Recall His Turbulent Career. Pace’s costars in the film included Toby Jones, Sandra Bullock, Daniel Craig, Gwyneth Paltrow, Isabella Rossellini, Hope Davis and Jeff Daniels. After portraying Roy Walker/Blue Bandit in the Toronto Film Festival-premiered The Fall (2006), helmed by Tarsem Singh, the talented actor offered a memorable performance as Richard Hayes, Matt Damon’s colleague, in the thriller The Good Shepherd. Directed by Robert De Niro and written by Eric Roth, the film starred Damon and Angelina Jolie and had an extensive supporting cast that included Alec Baldwin, Billy Crudup, Michael Gambon, William Hurt, Timothy Hutton, Gabriel Macht and Joe Pesci, not to mention De Niro himself. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Achievement in Art Direction. On stage, Pace starred in the two character play Guardians (2006), by Peter Morris, and won his next Lucille Lortel nomination for his performance.
2007 saw Pace star in the short movie “Polarbearman.” He was then cast in the starring role of Ned in the ABC dark comedy series “Pushing Daisies,” from “Wonderfalls” creator Bryan Fuller. Debuting on October 3, 2007, the show was well-received by critics, but was canceled by the network due to ratings declining. For his performance, Pace nabbed a 2008 Emmy nomination in the category of Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series and a 2008 Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy. He also picked up a Saturn nomination and two Satellite nominations. He recalled, “I’ve got three movies ready to come out and had no interest in a TV series. When they called my agent, he told them that, but then I read the script and I knew it was going to be great. I was worried at first about the plot, but they pulled it off, all that psychic phenomenon stuff.”
In 2008, Pace landed the role of Michael Pardew, a penniless dedicated pianist involved with flamboyant American singer/actress Delysia Lafosse (played by Amy Adams), in the British/American film Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, starring Frances McDormand in the title character. The comedy/romance, directed by Bharat Nalluri and scripted by David Magee and Simon Beaufoy, which was based on the Winifred Watson 1938 novel of the same name, earned positive reviews and debuted at No. 11 at the box office. The same year, he was cast opposite Sarah Michelle Gellar in the thriller film Possession, adapted from the 2002 Korean film Addicted.
The Golden Globe nominated actor appeared with Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Ginnifer Goodwin and Nicholas Hoult in the drama film A Single Man (2009), directed by Tom Ford. It was followed up with small appearances in other films, including When In Rome (2010) and The Resident (2011), a thriller starring Hilary Swank, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and Christopher Lee. In the summer of 2010, Pace managed to star in the family action-adventure/comedy, Marmaduke, a screen adaptation of the long-running comic strip featuring a Great Dane dog and his shenanigans. He’s also involved in the hugely successful Twilight Saga series, playing play the American nomadic vampire, Garrett, in the second part of Breaking Dawn. Other films of his, including the indie drama/comedy 30 Beats and the Max Winkler directorial debut Ceremony, are projects of his also anticipating release dates.
In March 2011, after much preparation in acting both onscreen and off, it was announced that Lee would be making his Broadway debut in Larry Kramer’s AIDS drama, The Normal Heart. The play will begin previews mid-April and will run until early July.