Kelsey Grammer has spoken about how a Depression-era Hollywood “turned a blind eye” to the horrors of the Nazi regime because of financial pressures.
The Frasier actor stars alongside Lily Collins and Matt Bomer in Amazon Prime series The Last Tycoon, which is based on F Scott Fitzgerald’s final, unfinished novel.
The story focuses on how the need to make money taints artistic expression and how this led 1930s Hollywood to bow to censorship efforts by Nazi Germany.
Grammer said the focus on the Nazi’s influence is partly metaphorical because we are “always thrown about by our need to make money”.
“You can’t always decide who your audience is,” the 62-year-old multiple Emmy winner told the Press Association at the Los Angeles premiere on Thursday.
“I think that’s what most of the guys who were making films in the 30s turned a blind eye to what they thought was going on socially in Germany because they needed to make money.
“We were in the middle of a depression and it didn’t matter so much what was going on until finally, I think it was 1940, when the last studio said enough of this nonsense, stop playing ball.”
Collins, the 28-year-old daughter of musician Phil Collins, said the 1930s were the most glamorous in Hollywood’s history but they were juxtaposed by the “wretched time” with the Great Depression.
“We’re going to be seeing a lot of the combination of that plus Nazi Germany infiltrating Hollywood at that time, the control they had over the films being made and how it was glitzy and glamorous on one side and extremely dark and obviously depressing on the other,” she said.
Bomer, 39, also spoke about the pressures the fascists managed to exert on the film industry.
“They were the biggest foreign market in Hollywood so they had someone who was here making sure that the films fit their code and if they disparaged the Germans at all they were cut out of that market place,” he said.
But, like Grammer, he pointed out that the issue speaks volumes about “art versus commerce and how much hasn’t changed in Hollywood because it’s still just a business”.
“Like all of F Scott Fitzgerald’s work, it’s about what does it cost you to achieve the American dream,” he added.
Fitzgerald, the author of The Great Gatsby, died in 1940 before he finished the The Last Tycoon but it was completed using his notes by his friend Edmund Wilson.
:: The nine-part series was released online on Thursday.