Lee Grinner Pace (born March 25, 1979) is an American actor. Pace has been featured in film, stage and television. He is known best for his starring role as Ned in the ABC series Pushing Daisies for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe award and an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series in 2008.
Early life and education
Pace was born in Chickasha, Oklahoma, the son of Charlotte (née Kloeckler), a school teacher, and James Roy Pace, an engineer. As a child, Pace spent several years in Saudi Arabia, where his father worked in the oil business; the family later moved to Houston, Texas. Pace attended Klein High School in Spring, Texas, a suburb of Houston, with future fellow actor Matthew Bomer. Pace temporarily quit high school to act at Houston's Alley Theatre before returning to graduate. At the Alley, he appeared in productions of The Spider's Web and The Greeks. In 1997, Pace was accepted by the Juilliard School's Drama Division as a member of Group 30 (1997–2001), which also included actors Anthony Mackie and Tracie Thoms. While there, he acted in several plays, including Romeo and Juliet as Romeo, Richard III in the title role, and Julius Caesar as Cassius. He graduated from Juilliard with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.
After graduation, Pace starred in several off-Broadway plays, including The Credeaux Canvas and The Fourth Sister. He also starred in a production of Craig Lucas's Small Tragedy, for which he was nominated for a Lucille Lortel Award as Outstanding Actor. In 2006, Pace starred in the two-character play Guardians by Peter Morris, which earned Pace his second nomination for a Lortel Award as Outstanding Actor.
April 19, 2011 marked Pace's Broadway debut, when The Normal Heart began its previews; it opened April 27 at the Golden Theatre. The show ran for a total of 96 performances, with its closing night on July 10, 2011. Pace played the character Bruce Niles in the show.
Pace first gained recognition for his role in the 2003 film Soldier's Girl, based on fact, in which he played the central role of Calpernia Addams, a transgender woman dating Army soldier Barry Winchell, played by Troy Garity. Winchell was murdered because of his sexuality and relationship with Addams.
Of the role, Pace has said:
"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."
Pace won a Gotham Award for Breakthrough Actor and was nominated for several other awards, including a Golden Globe Award, for his work in this film.