Eric McCormack is best known for portraying Will Truman on NBC Will & GraceBut the actor hesitated before taking the role. In the first episode of his new brief podcast with Sean Hayes (who played the hilarious Jack McFarland), Just Jack WillMcCormack recalled the auditioning process and how, after being told he had landed the role, he began to worry about commitment (via Insider). McCormack says his hesitation had “nothing to do” with portraying a gay character and felt “the thing about the show would make him stand out from the rest”.
McCormack shared that after two auditions, he was told “unofficially” that he had landed the lead role but would have to wait until after the Christmas break to confirm. It was then, says McCormack, that suspicion began to creep in:
“I was suddenly just scared of commitment, of the idea that this was my Sam Malone [Ted Danson’s Cheers character]. It might be the thing on my tombstone.”
McCormack alerted the show’s producers that he would be auditioned for other roles and passed on Will Truman. Things changed when McCormack received a phone call from series co-creator Max Mutchnik:
He said, “I’m just calling to tell you that you just made the biggest mistake of your life.” And I said, “Wow, you don’t know me. I just got done with the drama and I’m not sure if that’s the thing.” And he said, “That’s all I need to say.” And it’s been haunting me through the holidays. I just remember waking up one morning after New Years in Vancouver, and turning to my wife and saying “I think I made a big mistake.” And she said, “Yeah,” McCormack recalled.
McCormack changed his mind, and the rest is history.
Will, Grace, and Chris Williams?!?
Will & Grace Created by Mutchnick and David Kohan, it follows the lives of the titular characters: Will Truman, a gay lawyer and Grace Adler (Debra Messing), his straight-forward interior design best friend. The series is often credited with paving the way for more television representation for members of the LGBTQ+ community. Along with McCormack, Messing, and Hayes, the sitcom starred Megan Mullally as wealthy, wine-loving Karen Walker. During the premiere episode of Just Jack WillMcCormack and Hayes also shared another insider news: There was initially a fifth member of the main cast.
“There were five as regulars, and the fifth was my partner in my little law firm,” McCormack said. “Straight man. I think he was probably written as Jewish, but in the end, it was Chris Williams.”
While filming the pilot, he asked director James Burroughs Will & Grace The co-creators cut a major character, as he felt the series had too many. McCormack shared that Williams’ cut from the series made him feel “absolutely awful”.
Will & Grace It ran in 1998 through 2006 and returned for three additional seasons in 2017. Through its 11-season run, the series has earned 18 Emmy nominations; McCormack won an Emmy Award and a Bar Award for his role as the Compassionate Lawyer.