Picking Up The Pace

Actor Lee Pace poses for a portrait in Beverly Hills, Calif. on Friday, April 18, 2008. AP Photo

Near as actor Lee Pace can tell, the best way to scare audiences away is to tell them how good something is.

"I think people are really cautious about important movies," said Pace, who stars in "The Fall," opening Friday. "If you're told, `There's an important movie coming out,' people would rather chew glass than go see it."

Tall, dark, with piercing eyes and brows so thick they just may be able to shelter a small family in a blizzard - Pace looks like he should be in the movies. So, of course, he is best known as a TV star, in a show he also believes has suffered from too-precious reviews.

"I had the same thing on my show, `Pushing Daisies.' There's this kind of `very special TV show' that people should go see," he told AP Television late last month. "And there is kind of a backlash to it. People are not interested in seeing something that they're told is good."

Photos: ABC Fall Season
While better known as the leading man with the magic touch on "Daisies," Pace is now building a reputation for big-screen work, with three 2008 theatrical releases: Besides "The Fall," this spring saw the release of the comedy "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day," with Frances McDormand and Amy Adams. This autumn, it's the comedic thriller "Possession" with Sarah Michelle Gellar.

"The Fall," from director Tarsem Singh ("The Cell"), the lavish epic - and intimate character piece - about a paralyzed silent-film-era stuntman who befriends a young girl in the hospital, seems to have split critics into love-it or hate-it camps.

Not unusual for the Oklahoma-born, Texas-raised and Juilliard-educated Pace, who was working primarily in New York theater when he landed the role of a transgendered nightclub performer in the 2003 Showtime drama "Soldier's Girl," a role that earned him a Golden Globe nomination.

A stint on the widely praised but short-lived series "Wonderfalls" ultimately led him to the producers of "Pushing Daisies" - about a man whose touch can bring the dead back to life. The eye-filling dramedy earned strong critical notices when it debuted last fall, and earned Pace another Globe nomination. But it's struggled to find a large viewership.

If Pace could bring someone back to life, who would it be?

"I hate this question," he said, squirming, then breaking out into a big laugh. "I'm so bad at this question. I can't think of anything funny enough, and I can't think of anything kind of poignant enough. Anna's ("Daisies" co-star Anna Friel) good. She'd say Ghandi or something. But I'd say my grandmother."

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