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'Murder Company': Kelsey Grammer's grandfather informed his character in World War II film

"I have a real energetic connection to him that carries on to this day," Grammer said

In Shane Dax Taylor's film Murder Company, Frasier star Kelsey Grammer transports the audience to World War II as a group of American soldiers get orders to smuggle a member of the French resistance behind enemy lines (played by Gilles Marini), in an effort assassinate a Nazi target. Grammer stars in the film alongside William Moseley, Gilles Marini and Pooch Hall, with several of the actors, and the film's director, having personal connections to the D-Day invasion film.

"My granddad was in World War II and served, and he raised me," Grammer shared to Yahoo Canada. "So I have a real energetic connection to him that carries on to this day."

Maverick Film & Complex Corp.

Buy Murder Company for $9.99, or rent the film for $6.99 through Apple TV

$10 at Apple TV

Similarly to Grammer, Taylor's grandfather was a Colonel during World War II. That connection between Grammer and Taylor's family history assisted in their collaboration on Grammer's character, General Haskel.

"One thing I said to him when we first met, I said, 'Tell me something, my granddad, ... I never heard him curse once in my life.' And he said, 'Yeah that's funny, I never heard mine curse either,'" Grammer shared. "I said, 'Well I don't think this guy should ever say a dirty word,' and so he didn't."

"I really liked that about him because it points to the character of those kinds of men. They saw really challenging things and yet never lost their dignity, and that was a very cool thing. Even if they did some things that they weren't proud of, they maintained an outer heritage of nobility and decency toward one another. And that's what I loved about the character."

[L-R] James Wiles as “Verrill” and Kelsey Grammer as “Haskel” in the war/action film, MURDER COMPANY, a Maverick Film & Complex Corp release. (Maverick Film & Complex Corp)
[L-R] James Wiles as “Verrill” and Kelsey Grammer as “Haskel” in the war/action film, MURDER COMPANY, a Maverick Film & Complex Corp release. (Maverick Film & Complex Corp)

For Grammer's costar Moseley, both of his grandfathers were in World War II, one a paratrooper, which also made the actor feel particularly connected to this story.

"I wanted to give everything I could to this character," Moseley said. "This was something that I really cared about."

"When your family's been through it, you have to give it your absolute best."

On Marini's end, his grandmother was involved in the French Resistance, which made him extremely compelled to be part of Murder Company.

"For me it meant enormously to be offered this part," he said. "When I heard about it, when I read it, I'm like, I don't care if I get paid I need to play this part. That's how much it was important for me to be able to give a little bit of me to this time of history."

For Hall, who was friends with Taylor before Murder Company, being able to represent a Black soldier in a World War II film was a draw for the actor.

"Back in World War II Black soldiers really didn't get to fight much and I felt like it was an opportunity for me to bring something to the table with this motley crew of guys, of brothers, to see what it would have looked like, ... if Black soldiers were integrated sooner into World War II," Hall said. "We're coming together. We're fighting with one family. Under one flag."

[L-R] Pooch Hall as “Coolidge” and William Moseley as “Southern” in the war/action film, MURDER COMPANY, a Maverick Film & Complex Corp release. (Photo courtesy of Maverick Film & Complex Corp.)
[L-R] Pooch Hall as “Coolidge” and William Moseley as “Southern” in the war/action film, MURDER COMPANY, a Maverick Film & Complex Corp release. (Photo courtesy of Maverick Film & Complex Corp.)

With Murder Company based on real events, Taylor and the actors did work to make this depiction of war and soldiers feel as real as possible.

"I think it's very important to inhabit the physical aspects of your character," Moseley stressed. "Just take the fall. ... Maybe I say that now and then when I'm 60, I would not want to be doing it, but hit the ground. Shoot the gun. Do it in full. Take the hit. I want the audience to feel like this is real."

"Shane shot the film in such a way that it was almost like guerilla filmmaking, it was documentary style. The camera was on the shoulder, our [director of photography] was literally running in with us, falling with us. So it was very important to me that it looks real and that I gave everything I could. Honestly, I was battered and bruised by the end. Really tired, but it was cool."

"My dad, rest in peace, dad was an army soldier, so I have that discipline about me," Hall said in a separate interview. "I feel that when you're doing a film like this, first and foremost, I don't want to insult soldiers. We have stunt men, but I want to do as many stunts I can, because it's not like soldiers are asking someone to ... step in [for them]."

"Once you hear action, your mind just goes there, because you're already in the element with the heavy clothes, we were sweating profusely. At lunch we'd have to take all our clothes off and either have them dried, or hang dry, because they're wool. ... With [Shane's] experience coming to this and going into unfamiliar territory shooting in Europe, and not knowing exactly how things are going to work out, because language was a factor, climate, the food was hit or miss. You're out there, you're at the mercy of your guys and I think shooting in Bulgaria brought that real element of we're abroad fighting for our country, but fighting for this film."

Gilles Marini as “Daquin” in thewar/action film, MURDER COMPANY, a Maverick Film & Complex Corp release. (Maverick Film & Complex Corp.)
Gilles Marini as “Daquin” in thewar/action film, MURDER COMPANY, a Maverick Film & Complex Corp release. (Maverick Film & Complex Corp.)

Each actor also had their own process to transform into their roles, from the physical elements to the more emotional moments. For Marini, it was particularly critical to understand the importance of his character's weapon, specifically as someone with significant trauma that's revealed throughout Murder Company.

"First, in my mind and my process as an actor, I felt like the only important thing in this circle of Daquin, the character, was his weapon," Marini explained. "Weapon is his wife, weapon is everything. This is what will fix what he believes needs to be fixed."

"[World War II] comes, his entire family's dilapidated. He has no more life inside of him. ... Maybe one of the greatest things I've had the chance play."

William Moseley as “Southern” in the war/action film, MURDER COMPANY, a Maverick Film & Complex Corp release. (Photo courtesy of Maverick Film & Complex Corp.)
William Moseley as “Southern” in the war/action film, MURDER COMPANY, a Maverick Film & Complex Corp release. (Photo courtesy of Maverick Film & Complex Corp.)

While crafting the characters is one part of the equation, the actors also had to leave these roles and this setting behind at the end of the project, which came with its own set of difficulties.

"I live in the most quintessentially English, Cotswold village and when I came back from shooting the movie I went to the local market to get bread and everybody was like dressed up in very smart clothes, with dogs, talking about very simple things, like about their children, what they are up to," Moseley recalled. "And I felt like I literally just got thrown out of a war zone. And I was like, 'Where am I right now?'"

"Obviously after like a week you get back into the rhythm of where you're at, but it takes time. And I don't know many actors that can say it doesn't take time, like a decompression period, after making a film specifically like that."

Maverick Film & Complex Corp.

Buy Murder Company for $9.99, or rent the film for $6.99 through Apple TV

$10 at Apple TV

In terms of the benefit of continuing to make films set in times of previous wars, like Murder Company, Grammer highlighted that there's benefit to "remind people of their history."

"It can serve as a backdrop for making better choices in the present," Grammer said. "Because if you don't have a sense of where you came from, if you don't know who you are, you don't know where you're going."

"That's a very interesting dilemma we face today, all the time. ... If you look back at our past a little bit and see what people were willing to give up to maintain what we do have, and who we really are, you realize it was worth something. And we have to pass that on to the next generation."

Murder Company has released in select theatres, on digital and on demand