Kelsey Grammer is returning to TV in a different role than you’re used to seeing him. Boss is a political drama in which Grammer plays a corrupt politician. The change of public image was inspired by Grammer’s publicized personal struggles, he admits.

“Honestly, I actually just took a break for a while,” Grammer said. “There were a lot of reasons I did but in the last couple of years I decided I needed to make a life change, honestly. You’re all familiar with what’s gone on in my personal life. Maybe not the details because I don’t talk about them, but I will say this.”

Grammer is now divorced from Camille, and survived a heart attack. “After my heart attack, which was three years ago, I spent the next several months looking at my own life. I cast my imaginative net over the next 30 or 20 or 40 years, whatever they may be. I just decided I didn’t want to have that story be my last story. So I decided that it was time to make changes that involved my career as well as my personal life. Doing a drama started to make really good sense because it took me back to my roots. It took me back to things I believed in, in telling good stories. That’s what I love to do.”

Changing his public persona required some time too. Grammer doesn’t think we would have accepted him as the Boss right after his long running sitcoms. “This particular role probably couldn’t have taken place directly after Frasier. I just think it would have been too big a jolt. Also I think the prevailing assumption about a political drama at that time was something like The West Wing. This is not The West Wing nor do I believe the viewing public would be actually able to accept this as possible until these last few years in the political arena that we’ve been experiencing as a country. I think this one is now apt and it might not have been before.”

The short lived Back to You and Hank provided a solid buffer between Frasier Crane and Thomas Kane, his new role. Grammer is also honest about his failures. “With Hank, nobody really liked that and it wasn’t very funny so we thought we’d try this other thing. No, you have to have a sense of humor to sustain you through these awful chapters, but it has always been in my mind to play a more serious role. I didn’t start out as a comic actor. I started out in classical theater and playing tragedies. That was my first love you might say.”

Boss premieres October 21 at 10 p.m. on Starz.