Sean Hayes is saying goodbye to “Will and Grace” for the second time. The series, which originally aired from 1998-2006, returned to television in 2016. Now the comedy about the enduring friendship between a gay man and a straight woman (Emmy winners Eric McCormack and Debra Messing) is signing off again after three seasons. In our exclusive video interview with the Emmy-winning actor (watch above), Hayes talks about saying goodbye to Will’s best friend Jack McFarland is different this time around. “I feel the gratitude much more,” the actor proclaims. “It was a little deeper this time.”
When the series returned in 2016, Hayes wanted to show audiences a different side of Jack McFarland. “I wanted Jack to mature,” he explains. “I wanted him to be a little bit older and have a little more responsibility.” To that end, the revival has seen Jack getting married to Spanish flight attendant Estefan Gloria (Brian Jordan Alvarez). About his onscreen husband, Hayes is effusive in his praise. Truly, I think he’s a genius, ” he says. “I think he’s a comedy genius.”
Equal in Hayes’s esteem is James Burrows, the Emmy-winning director who has been at the helm of every one of the series’s almost 250 episodes. “He’s like the dad I never had. Everything I learned, I learned from him” Hayes states. “He’s so in your head that he can actually anticipate you screwing up a line before you know you’re going to screw up a line. So that you don’t ruin the joke for the audience.”
Hayes has earned his share of awards in the more than two decades since the show premiered. He earned seven consecutive Emmy nominations for Best Comedy Supporting Actor, winning in 2000, as well as four Screen Actors Guild Awards. Hayes was famously singled out by “Frasier” star David Hyde Pierce upon the latter’s Emmy win the previous year. When asked what advice he would give to his younger self about making an acceptance speech, Hayes’s answer is succinct: “Write something down!”
Hayes is matter-of-fact about the show’s impact, particularly in regards to LGBTQ issues. “The legacy is the legacy, whether we did a thousand more episodes or one more episode. I think there always needs to be a voice out there constantly reminding people that the LGBTQ community are just as human as any other human being,” Hayes says. “I think we constantly need that to educate America about the normalcy of being human. I can’t wait to see who does it next. I get excited every single time I see something new come out that represents the LGBT community in a positive light.”
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