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OTRC: Topher Grace of 'That '70s Show' talks about move to theater

Topher Grace and Olivia Thirlby appear in a promotional photo for the off-Broadway play 'Lonely, I'm Not,' which appeared on the Second Stage Theatre's official Facebook page. (Facebook.com/2STNYC / Robert Ashcroft)

Topher Grace, who starred on "That '70s Show" talks about his venture into theater for his new off-Broadway play, "Lonely, I'm Not."

"I love it all," Grace told the Associated Press in a recent interview. "I love playing good guys. I love playing bad guys. I love theater. I love film. I love watching TV. I want a passport to everywhere. I don't want to be exclusive to one thing. That is a huge problem for my agents because I think I would make more money if I focused on one specific type of character or genre... but especially while I'm young and single I really want to explore everything."

Grace appears opposite "Juno" actress Olivia Thirlby in "Lonely, I'm Not," which follows a young man named Porter who has already gotten divorced, fired from his high-paying corporate job and had a nervous breakdown. Life looks up for the character when he falls in love with an ambitious blind business woman (Thirlby).

"It's great to get back in front of an audience and hear that reaction or more importantly what they don't react to." Grace said of the experience. "There's nothing louder than 300 people not laughing."

Grace's co-star Olivia Thirlby does not seem to think the laughter will be a problem, telling the Associated Press, "I think he's doing tremendously well. It must be his experience having worked on a sitcom with a live audience because he is very in tune with what it means to be in front of an audience. He's doing an amazing job of creating a character that's deeply relatable and also so funny. One of his strengths is definitely his talent as a comedian."

The play was written by Paul Weitz, who directed Grace in the 2004 film "In Good Company," which saw the actor portraying Dennis Quaid's much younger boss, who falls for Quaid's daughter, played by Scarlett Johansson.

"Lonely, I'm Not" is Grace's professional theatrical debut, but the 33-year-old actor was discovered after the creators of "That '70s Show" saw him in boarding school production of "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum."

"Everything that I always thought was a cliché that every actor said about the theater - how connective it is and how it gets you back to your roots or how it's like using an acting muscle - everything they say is true," Grace continued. "I'll do a lot of films where I haven't met the other people that are in the film until the premiere. Here you're a really tight company and it doesn't hurt that it's spring time in New York, you know?"

Grace will also appear in the upcoming independent film, "The Giant Mechanical Man," opposite Jenna Fischer, Chris Messina and Malin Akerman.

Grace did not make an appearance at Fox's 25th Anniversary Special, which included a reunion of several "That '70s Show" cast members including Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, Wilmer Valderrama and Laura Prepon.

"Lonely, I'm Not" runs from May 7 until May 27 at the Second Stage Theatre in New York City, buy tickets here.

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