Smash gave Debra Messing the chance to fulfil her Broadway dream, writes Colin Vickery
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‘‘ I had done an hour-long drama ( Prey) right before Will & Grace. I was in every scene and it nearly killed me,’’ Messing says. ‘‘ I swore I would never do that again.’’
Smash, which was created by Theresa Rebeck, centres on the staging of a musical, Bombshell, based on the life of Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe.
Steven Spielberg is one of the executive producers. The ensemble cast includes Anjelica Huston as producer Eileen Rand and Jack Davenport as director Derek Wills.
Katharine McPhee and Megan Hilty play the two actors fighting it out to get the coveted role of Monroe.
LIFE is imitating art for Debra Messing. On US drama Smash, Messing plays Julia Houston, a Broadway lyricist whose marriage is put under strain when she has an affair with musical theatre star Michael Swift (Will Chase).
In real life, Messing is dating Chase.
Messing, 43, filed for divorce from her husband of 12 years, actor and screenwriter Daniel Zelman, in June. They have an eight-year-old son, Roman.
Messing, who is best known for playing Grace Adler in hit sitcom Will & Grace, has started filming the second series of Smash.
It is clear from our conversation that Smash and Roman are Messing’s priorities.
‘‘ I really relate to Julia,’’ Messing says. ‘‘ She is a very passionate, creative person who has to express herself (creatively) in order to feel complete. As well, she is very passionate about her family life.
‘‘ I’m a mother of an eightyear-old son and I’m completely passionate about being his mother, about trying to balance it (career and motherhood).’’
Julia is a very passionate, creative person who has to express herself
‘‘ When I read that first script I remember saying ‘ s---’ out loud because it was a script that was going to require that (same level of commitment as Prey) and I couldn’t say no,’’ Messing says.
‘‘ I had some direct and honest talks with the ( Smash) executive producers prior to signing on.
‘‘ I said, ‘ If I’m going to do this, we need to maintain an ensemble’.’’ Messing got her wish. ‘‘ I was given reassurances that they would be able to accommodate the time that I needed— whether it was to be at my son’s play or be at a parent/teacher meeting or what have you,’’ she says.
Smash was set to screen on US cable channel Showtime. When Showtime entertainment president Robert Greenblatt moved to NBC, Smash was destined for the big time.
The gamble paid off. Smash was paired with the US version of The Voice and debuted to about 12 million viewers.
Messing puts the show’s success down to the mix of the personal and the professional.
Messing’s Julia is trying to balance the demands of getting Bombshell on stage with her rocky marriage to husband Frank (played by Brian d’Arcy James). Smash, Channel 7, Tuesday, 9.30pm Debra Messing grew up dreaming of a Broadway career.