Lee Grinner Pace (born March 25, 1979) is an Emmy Award-nominated and two-time Golden Globe-nominated American actor. Pace has been featured in film, stage and television. He is best known for his starring role as Ned in the ABC series Pushing Daisies, as well as his supporting role as Aaron on the series Wonderfalls.
Pace was born in Chickasha, Oklahoma
. As a young child, Pace spent several years in Saudi Arabia
where his father was in the oil business, and they later moved to Houston, Texas
. He temporarily quit high school to act at Houston's Alley Theatre
before returning to graduate. During his time at the Alley, he was in productions of The Spider's Web
and The Greeks
He attended Klein High School, just outside of Houston, with fellow actor Matthew Bomer.
In 1997, Pace was accepted to the Juilliard School's drama division (Group 30). While there, he acted in several plays, including Romeo and Juliet as Romeo, Richard II in the title role and Julius Caesar as Cassius, among others. He graduated with a BFA and was a classmate of actors Anthony Mackie and Tracie Thoms.
After graduation, Pace starred in several off-Broadway
plays including The Credaux Canvas
and The Fourth Sister
. He also starred in a production of Small Tragedy
by Craig Lucas, which is being adapted into a 2007
film (see Small Tragedy
). For this role, he was nominated for a Lucille Lortel
Award for Outstanding Actor. In 2006, Pace starred in the two-character play Guardians
by Peter Morris. Guardians
earned Pace his second nomination for a Lucille Lortel
Award Outstanding Actor.
Pace first gained recognition for his role in the 2003 film Soldier's Girl
. Pace played the central role of Calpernia Addams
, a transgender
woman dating Army
soldier Barry Winchell
(played by Troy Garity
). Winchell was subsequently murdered because of his sexuality and his relationship with Addams. Of the role, Pace 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, for his work in this film.
He starred in the 2008 film Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day and in Tarsem Singh's The Fall, released May 9, 2008. His next film is the movie Possession with Sarah Michelle Gellar.
He also had supporting roles in the 2005's The White Countess and the 2006 films Infamous and The Good Shepherd.
Pace played Aaron Tyler in the acclaimed, short-lived 2004
television series Wonderfalls
, which was co-created by Bryan Fuller
. Later, Fuller cast Pace in the lead role of Ned in the series Pushing Daisies
, which debuted on ABC in October 2007 and returns for its second season on October 1, 2008.
Pace has also appeared on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.