ERIC MCCOR­MACK: STILL STRAIGHT!

Be­tween 1998 and 2004, Eric McCor­mack graced our screens as Will Tru­man. With Will And Grace mak­ing a tri­umphant re­turn in 2017, he now finds him­self in two con­cur­rent hit shows… and lov­ing be­ing Will again!

DNA Magazine - - CONTENTS - By Ian Horner.

Even af­ter years of play­ing gay on Will And Grace, we are sad to re­port that hunky Eric is still het­ero­sex­ual. Sigh.

DNA: On Will And Grace you’re a light­hearted gay man on a quest for an un­clut­tered life. On Trav­el­ers [US spell­ing] you’re a dra­matic het­ero hero on a quest to save Amer­ica. What a dou­ble life!

Eric McCor­mack: Yeah! I started out do­ing Shake­speare in reper­tory the­atre, so the idea of do­ing a com­edy in the af­ter­noon and a drama at night is in my bones.

Trav­el­ers is as far from Will And Grace as you can get. Was that part of its ap­peal? Ab­so­lutely. When I started Trav­el­ers there was no idea Will And Grace would come back. I was al­ready shoot­ing Trav­el­ers when I got the call from Max Mutch­nick [Will And Grace cre­ator/ writer] say­ing he wanted to do the po­lit­i­cal video for Hil­lary, which then lead to the Will And Grace re­vival. In the years since Will And Grace I’d tried to get back to my dra­matic roots. Trav­el­ers was per­fect tim­ing for me and if that’s all I was do­ing I’d be per­fectly happy. Do­ing Will And Grace and Trav­el­ers (and both net­works get­ting along) is like eat­ing din­ner and dessert at the same time!

Did you get any White House feed­back for that Hil­lary episode?

Hil­lary sent let­ters thank­ing us for the video, but in terms of the White House episode that be­gan the se­ries, no… we have been com­pletely ig­nored by the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion! Trav­el­ers is not easy to ex­plain. What is it about the show that ap­peals to you?

What I love most is that it’s more like an es­pi­onage show than sci-fi. The char­ac­ters have to change el­e­ments of the past but, as they await as­sign­ments, they have to do their Pro­to­col 5, as they call it: they have to live the lives of the peo­ple whose bod­ies they’ve taken over. That’s what makes the show dif­fer­ent and deeper. The in­di­vid­ual lives of the trav­ellers in their host bod­ies be­come very emo­tional and can be very funny and they’re also top-se­cret. Tra­di­tional me­dia is be­ing la­belled “fake” but few are point­ing the fin­ger at so­cial me­dia for dis­sem­i­nat­ing fake news. This is an idea ex­plored in Trav­el­ers.

Yes, we did this with Marcy on Trav­el­ers – the idea be­ing that what we’re now writ­ing on Face­book will some­day be taken as fact is to sug­gest that there are no facts any more. We al­ready see peo­ple de­bat­ing “facts”, mak­ing up their own ver­sions. Who knows how we’ll look back on this time – what ac­tu­ally hap­pened

and what was just made-up bull­shit?

Back in 1998, when Will And Grace started, you never had any mis­giv­ings about play­ing gay, or made any apolo­gies for be­ing a straight man in a gay role.

Well, I played a num­ber of gay men prior to Will. I wasn’t shy. There’s never been an apol­ogy be­cause it never seemed strange to me. I come from the the­atre. I prob­a­bly know more gay men than straight men, and I loved the idea [of play­ing Will]. At the time there were peo­ple who said it was the easy way out for the net­work – if they hire a straight guy it’s more palat­able for Amer­ica. But I feel it’s the op­po­site now. I get to be an am­bas­sador and it’s been a real priv­i­lege for 20 years. Rather than apol­o­gise, I boast about it. It’s a great op­por­tu­nity to get to show the world some­thing they hadn’t seen a lot of in Amer­ica prior to this show. We love hav­ing you as an hon­orary mem­ber of the club.

Thanks, and that’s the best part. When we started, there was a fear that it’d be the gay com­mu­nity who wouldn’t buy the show, who wouldn’t buy me in the role. But it was the op­po­site. It was GLADD [Gay And Les­bian Al­liance Against Defama­tion] and those or­gan­i­sa­tions who got be­hind us right from the begin­ning, who ap­pre­ci­ated hav­ing a Will Tru­man. I’ve got to know Canada’s Min­is­ter For Vet­eran Af­fairs, Sea­mus O’Re­gan. He used to be a morn­ing talk show host and now he’s in Trudeau’s gov­ern­ment. He said to me re­cently, “Thanks from all the Will Tru­mans in the world. We weren’t rep­re­sented. There were lots of crazy queens and gay next-door neigh­bours but there weren’t us, just those guys who go to work and wear suits and marry other guys who wear suits. We were an un­rep­re­sented silent ma­jor­ity in the gay com­mu­nity and it’s nice to see that guy up there.” That meant a lot to me. Will And Grace is a sub­stan­tial piece of tele­vi­sion his­tory. Have you ever felt strait­jack­eted by the role?

No pun in­tended?! [Laughs.] When I fin­ished the show, I be­came aware of a cer­tain per­cep­tion – it wasn’t just the gay side, it was also the sit­com as­pect [of my ca­reer]. That’s all peo­ple had seen of me for eight years, so it was up to me to walk into rooms and not be that. But it was hard be­cause there is such joy in be­ing Will. It comes very nat­u­rally and it’s a big piece of my own en­ergy. In or­der to find my way to my Trav­el­ers char­ac­ter, Grant McLaren I had to sit on that a lit­tle and con­vince peo­ple there were other things I could do. But it was never with a sense of an­i­mos­ity. I never thought, “Now I’m stuck as Will Tru­man.” It’s some­thing I have such grat­i­tude for and al­ways will. I re­mem­ber my first job ever was at Baskin-Rob­bins, the ice-cream store, and the man­ager said, “You’re gonna love this job be­cause no one’s ever un­happy in an ice-cream store.” And that’s what it’s like to be Will Tru­man. No­body walks up to me and is up­set about any­thing. They just have such joy, and par­tic­u­larly this re­vival seems to have made a lot of peo­ple happy and there’s noth­ing bet­ter.

Trav­el­ers se­ries three and Will And Grace se­ries 11 are both hap­pen­ing? Yes, I’m shoot­ing Trav­el­ers right now, this af­ter­noon, in fact. I di­rected the first episode of se­ries three. And we’re do­ing two more Will And Graces, each 18 episodes, so I have my work cut out for me for a while, which is just in­cred­i­ble.

Your son is in his late teens now, but when he was young how did he han­dle see­ing his dad play­ing gay on TV?

He was three when it went off air. About the time he was seven or eight he was aware that I was known, but I started do­ing a show called Per­cep­tion when he was nine, so his ver­sion of my celebrity was through that. He’d heard of Will And Grace but he never re­ally watched it. Now, with the re­vival, he’s start­ing to ap­pre­ci­ate what the show was and what it meant in the land­scape. We did a big thing at the Pa­ley Me­dia Cen­ter [a mu­seum of tele­vi­sion and ra­dio broad­cast­ing] to hon­our the show and we did a thing at the Ko­dak Cen­ter in New York and over

3,000 peo­ple showed up to hear a panel and ask us ques­tions. He was there, and it was the first time the so­cial im­por­tance of the show dawned on him.

There’s been such a shift in think­ing on sex­u­al­ity in just one gen­er­a­tion.

Yes. Kids his age, at least at his school, don’t think about be­ing gay as any sort of prob­lem. Kids are com­ing out as bi­sex­ual when they’re

13 and they’re putting it on In­sta­gram and it’s just nor­mal. None of them re­alise what we, our gen­er­a­tion, went through to pave the way for that kind of ease.

Play­ing Will is some­thing I have such grat­i­tude for… and this re­vival seems to have made a lot of peo­ple happy.

MORE: Will And Grace is now on Stan.

Cel­e­brat­ing the Will And Grace re­boot: Eric, Debra Messing, Megan Mul­lally and Sean Hayes.

Eric with wife Janet and son Fin­ni­gan at Dis­ney­land.

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