'Frasier': Why David Hyde Pierce Isn't Returning as Niles

When Frasier makes its return in the new Paramount+ revival, fans will notice the absence of Frasier Crane's younger brother Niles. In a new interview with PEOPLE, Kelsey Grammer, who plays the titular radio host, opened up about why David Hyde Pierce decided not to reprise his role in the critically-acclaimed Cheers spinoff.

"For a while we were going to try to bring back the whole cast, the whole legacy cast," Grammer said, referring to the cast including David Hyde Pierce, Peri Gilpin, Jane Leeves, and John Mahoney, who died in 2018. He continued that Hyde Pierce, "basically decided he wasn't really interested in repeating the performance of Niles." Following Frasier's 11-season run, Hyde Pierce would go on to enjoy a thriving theater career and recently played Julia Childs' husband in the HBO Max series Julia.

Grammer explained that Hyde Pierce's decision not to return to his role as Niles ended up benefitting the show unexpectedly. "In a very funny way, it just took us to a new place, which was what we originally wanted to do, anyway, which was a Frasier third act," Grammer explained. "It's an entirely new life for him." He continued, "We'll certainly be responsive about the fact that there was a brother and such. But the new world for Frasier is one of new friendships – and some new twists and turns he didn't know were still in there."

Hyde Pierce had hinted in June that he would not be returning to the world of Frasier. "That whole time of my life [doing Frasier] is deeply important to me. And I would never disrespect that in such a way as to say just offhandedly, 'Oh, no, thanks. I'm not going to do that again.' It's too valuable to me," he told Vulture at the time. "But by the same token, because it's so valuable to me, I also wouldn't do it just to do it. And I believe it can be done without me, too – finding new stories to tell, in the same way that Frasier did after Cheers." No premiere date has been announced for the Frasier revival, but you can stream the original series on Paramount+.