In 2020, Eric McCormack is a beloved, respected actor. (He's Will Truman!) But in 1993, he was just a young Canadian actor about to experience his very first pilot season. "I was down in L.A. trying to get Friends, actually," McCormack told EW editor in chief JD Heyman during a panel at SCAD's aTVfest (where the actor is being honored with the Impact Award). "I had several auditions for Friends," he continues. "I was trying to get that [next] big show."
It would be a few years before McCormack would land that show, but when he did, it was huge. And he knew it from the start. "It was exactly what I wanted," McCormack says of Will & Grace. "I loved Seinfeld and I loved Friends, and I wanted to be on NBC in a great, smart comedy."
McCormack still remembers his original audition for the show and role that would launch him to stardom. "I read one scene and Max Mutchnick, who created the show, said, 'Okay, just so you know, you never have to be more gay than that,'" McCormack recalls with a laugh.
Although he took a few months to accept the role, ultimately, he'd become Will Truman. And then, in 2017, he'd do it again with the revival. "We did this video for Youtube for the election," he remembers. "It was a total lark, it was supposed to just be that. It happened because Max [Mutchnick], our brilliant, crazy producer, had sent the original set, intact, to his alma mater, which is Emerson College in Boston. It's been sitting in the library, like behind glass, for 10 years and they finally called him and said, 'We're renovating, could you take your set back please?' It just happened at a time when he was dying to help the cause, so we shot that thing. It was like shooting a pilot really and it was like, 'Oh yeah, we can still do this. And with heavy makeup and the right lighting, we can still look the same.'"
But after three seasons, the revival is now coming to an end. The cast shot the finale before Christmas, and McCormack says he loves the ending. "This whole season has very much been about real second chances, which is appropriate for a reboot. [It's] a second chance for both Will and Grace to have children, which is something that, from the beginning Will was the guy that said, 'I just want to meet the right guy and have kids.' And so that's where they're headed this season."
Will & Grace airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.