Tom Cavanagh and Eric McCormack take the EW Pop Culture Personality Test
On Jan. 26, Ed’s Tom Cavanagh and Will & Grace‘s Eric McCormack return to series TV with TNT’s drama Trust Me. On the show, they’re best friends and creative partners at a Chicago advertising agency who enjoy giving each other a tough time (especially after McCormack’s character gets a promotion and becomes Cavanagh’s boss). When they phoned PopWatch — separately, but we tattled on Cavanagh to McCormack — the vibe was enjoyably similar.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Give me the sales pitch for your character.
Tom Cavanagh: Conner is a Lothario. He’s not only the best-looking man ever to grace the small screen — it’s got nothing to do with me, he’s just, like, so goodlookin’ — he’s also the most intelligent person to ever grace the small screen. So I would say best-looking and most intelligent. Does that answer your question? Are you doing the reporter pause where you wait for the actor to then feel like he needs to give a real answer? NOT HAPPENING.
Eric McCormack: What I like about Mason is that he’s a little hen-pecked. He’s a little worried about money. He’s a regular guy, who has been given some power and suddenly has to swim in shark-infested waters and learn how to discover his inner a–hole. [EW: Tom basically said he thinks Conner is hotter and smarter.] (Laughs) I think that’s exactly what Tom thinks.
What have you learned working with your costar that you didn’t know about him before?
Cavanagh: Apart from the serial killer thing, nothing. Not a thing. I think everyone suspected that about him anyway, right? Here’s the thing: Eric and I are both Canadian. How do you get 200Canadians out of the pool? “Will all the Canadians please get out of the pool?” He is a very, very good Canadian… Though, suffice it to say my hockey knowledge is slightly more advanced than his [Cavanagh played in college]. At the same time, we can both really hold our own when it comes to discussions on musical theater [both have done Broadway]. You can’t peg us, Mandi.
McCormack: I guess that he’s just got the one testicle. You know, he still does pretty well. [EW: He went with a serial killer line for you.] Did he? (Laughs) No, I think the nicest discovery was that all the rumors that he was a total a–hole were a little exaggerated.
When do you yell at the TV?
Cavanagh: When the puck goes off the post.
McCormack: I love The Soup with Joel McHale. I watch it mostly because he shows the shows that I could never actually sit through. I yell at the insane reality shows and talk shows. I yell at the unbelievable find-your-mate shows and dating shows. [EW: So there’s no guilty-pleasure reality show you’ll admit to watching in its entirety?] Anything where humanity is debasing itself and degrading itself, I can’t watch. People always say, “Well, you watch American Idol.” American Idol is a talent contest, it’s not quite the same thing. Although, it is hard to watch Paula week after week without wanting to put your arm around her and go, “Honey, honey, come away from the cameras for a few minutes.”
Did you ever write a fan letter to someone when you were young?
Cavanagh: I think the answer is almost definitely no. I didn’treally have TV till I was 11-years-old. We spent a lot of our childhoodin Africa [his father set up an education program to train localteachers in Ghana], and then when we came back to Canada, we were justtrying to get some heating. By the time I had a TV, I was too old towrite a fan letter, I guess. Wait, that sounds wrong. Fan letters areencouraged by people of any age. Back pedal, back pedal, back pedal.
McCormack: I did. I think the first one I sent was toSonny and Cher. I didn’t write a lot, but I’m almost positive I alsowrote one to Don Adams from Get Smart. I don’t remember receiving anything, so I must have sent it to the wrong place.
A piece of pop culture memorabilia from your childhood you wish you still had?
Cavanagh: I had this old Vancouver Canucks hockey jersey with the ‘C’ in the form of an ice rink that people used to offer me a billion dollars for. In the last seven or eight years, they’ve had this whole retro craze, and you can now get these things online, so it’s lost its value… Boring.
McCormack: I had a fantastic shirt, it was like a velour shirt with a Planet of the Apes face on it. It was Roddy McDowall as Cornelius. It wasn’t just a picture; it was like a big plastic or rubber relief that was sewn on to the shirt. It was a magnificent thing. I loved my Planet of the Apes shirt. I think my mother probably put it in the dryer and it melted.
The first celebrity you ever befriended?
Cavanagh: The guy from Will & Grace… Well, you know me and celebrity culture.
McCormack: It was David Warner, a great English actor. We did a movie together in Zimbabwe [1992’s The Lost Word]. He played Jack the Ripper in Time After Time, which is one of my favorite movies. I remember we were all sitting around and quoting movies, and we had to guess the film. It got to me, and I said, “Here’s one,” and I quoted this thing and everyone was stumped. I said, “David?” He said, “No, I have no idea.” I said, “That’s you. That’s you from Time After Time.” “Oh really? Was I good?”
The person you’re most often mistaken for?
Cavanagh: The guy from Will & Grace.
McCormack: When Will & Grace first started — and I still get this — people were like, “Oh my god, you’re that guy from Dharma & Greg.” There’s this whole thing between LA and New York where people who are autograph hounds or paparazzi-types will tip each other off that so-and-so just got on Flight 27 or whatever. Clearly, someone had phoned New York and said “Thomas Gibson’s on this flight,” and I got off and someone was standing there with a picture of Thomas Gibson waiting for it to be signed. I said, “Oh, that’s not me.” And they said, “Uh, don’t be an a–hole.” I said, “That’s not me.” They said, “Please, can you just sign it?” I said, “Honestly, that’s not me.” So I signed it anyway. [EW: As Thomas Gibson or as Eric McCormack?] As Tom Cavanagh. I really wanted to f— them up.
A pop-culture related fight you’ve engaged in frequently?
Cavanagh: “What do you mean Paul McCartney and Wings aren’t awesome?” I was doing this play this summer, and literally, I had the old Wingspan album on the iPod non-stop. If you haven’t heard it recently, check out Wingspan.
McCormack: One thing I definitely have spouted off about in more than one bar is critics who constantly tell audiences that all sitcoms have laugh tracks — when in fact, Will & Grace had 300 people every Tuesday that laughed their asses off and there was no f—in’ laugh track.
Fill in the blank: If you’re a fan of _____, don’t talk to me:
Cavanagh: Obama. Kidding. Kidding. Don’t write that. It was too easy, I had to say it… Will & Grace.
McCormack: The Republican party. That’s a tough one, if you discover that and you’re like, “Oh… and we’ve got nothing to talk about.”
The movie you always have to watch when you spot it on cable?
Cavanagh: Oh man, there’s like a hundred of ’em. Die Hard, Jaws, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, A Streetcar Named Desire. There’s also little things that come on and you’re just like, Really?, and then you just can’t not watch ’em. I’ll sit through Point Break and anything with Mariah Carey in it as an actor.
McCormack: Annie Hall.
Your fallback karoke song?
Cavanagh: “Mack the Knife.” Old school.
McCormack: See, I am not a believer in having a fallback song. I think that the idea of karaoke is that you must always be pushing forward and trying new things. I have karoke at home, but even if I went to a bar, and I’d never been to that bar before and used that system, there’s probably 20 songs that I would “fall back on.” The person that has, like, that one tune they do: Guess what? “New York, New York!” Ah, sit down. Sit down. No one needs to hear anybody do “New York, New York” ever again. (Laughs) Word to the wise, if you’re in a karaoke bar with me, don’t do “New York, New York”… and don’t do “My Way.”
Watch Cavanagh and McCormack pimp their show (or, rather, McCormack attempt to)