Hayes looks to ex­pand act­ing range

The London Free Press - - LIFE - ERIC VOLMERS POSTMEDIA NEWS

Sean Hayes was once asked what his dream role would be.

His an­swer is blunt: “Any­body in­tel­li­gent.”

What does this say about Hayes’ most fa­mous role? Will & Grace’s Jack McFar­land may be chron­i­cally self-ab­sorbed, ma­te­ri­al­is­tic and vain, but is he un­in­tel­li­gent?

Hayes doesn’t come right out and say as much. But he does ad­mit that he had some con­cerns about re­turn­ing to McFar­land, the flam­boy­antly gay and of­ten bliss­fully delu­sional best friend of Eric McCor­mack’s Will Tru­man, when the se­ries was re­vived in 2017 af­ter an 11-year ab­sence from the air­waves.

“We as ac­tors have hope­fully, knock on wood, grown a lit­tle bit,” says Hayes, in an in­ter­view at the Banff World Me­dia Fes­ti­val where he re­ceived the Sir Peter Usti­nov Com­edy Award .“And I, again knock on wood, have hope­fully be­come a lit­tle older and wiser. So I’ve got away from the char­ac­ter which I ap­proached very naively when I first started. It was dif­fi­cult hav­ing been older and gone through so much of life and the busi­ness to kind of check that at the door again and climb into the skin of some­one who isn’t as evolved as the rest of his friends.”

“But, also, it just took one episode where it was like ‘This is how he speaks and this how he acts,’” Hayes adds. “So it was a pleas­ant rein­tro­duc­tion to an old friend.”

Hayes said he would love to do pure drama. But also ac­knowl­edges that he al­ways knew com­edy was go­ing to take up a lion’s share of his ca­reer. This makes him a nice ad­di­tion to the funny men and women who have been be­stowed the Peter Usti­nov award over the years, in­clud­ing John Candy, John Cleese, Ricky Ger­vais, Martin Short, Tracey Ull­man and Kathryn Hahn.

“My com­edy he­roes grow­ing up were any­body on (Satur­day Night Live), but mostly Steve Martin and Martin Short,” he says. “Those two are my ac­tual com­edy he­roes grow­ing up as a kid. I used to lock my­self in a room on a Satur­day night dur­ing high school while ev­ery­body else was out par­ty­ing and I would watch SNL.

“I looked for­ward to it ev­ery sin­gle week. Even back then, peo­ple would talk about it the next week, just like they still do now.”

Since ris­ing to fame with Will & Grace, Hayes kept busy with roles in film, TV and the stage. He also started his own pro­duc­tion com­pany and voiced char­ac­ters in an­i­mated films. But he will likely al­ways be re­mem­bered as Jack, which is not the sort of role that is easy to es­cape. Why would he want to? While Jack may not “evolve” in the tra­di­tional sense, Hayes says he will have a lively new sea­son.

“Jack may or may not be get­ting mar­ried,” Hayes says. “What else can we say? There will be re­turn­ing guest stars. Alec Bald­win will be com­ing back for what should be an in­ter­est­ing look at the com­pli­cated re­la­tion­ship be­tween him and Karen. I don’t know. I don’t write the show. Peo­ple ask me for spoil­ers and I can only echo what I’ve heard.”

Hayes co-wrote the up­com­ing in­die com­edy Lazy Su­san with Dar­lene Hunt and Car­rie Ai­z­ley. It’s about a “girl who dreams about it all and do­ing noth­ing to get it.” Hayes plays Su­san.

“It’s not a trans, it’s not a guy in drag and I don’t play it for laughs,” Hayes says. “I just play it like a real woman and that makes me laugh.”

The char­ac­ter was one Hayes cre­ated in his 20s to au­di­tion for a spot on the sketch com­edy se­ries In Living Colour.

Hayes is in­ter­ested in de­vel­op­ing more of his own projects.

“At this point in my life, I have to,” he says. “As an ac­tor, you find your niche. And if it’s not a su­per­hero, you have to fig­ure out your own plan, it seems. Which I’m happy with, I’m ec­static with. It forces me to work harder and the awards are so much more en­rich­ing.”

KEVIN WIN­TER/ GETTY IMAGES

Sean Hayes was hon­oured with the Sir Peter Usti­nov Com­edy Award at the Banff World Me­dia Fes­ti­val.

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