‘Will & Grace’ Star Eric McCormack Says Straight Actors Playing Gay Characters Is “Part of the Gig”

Eric McCormack doesn’t believe an actor’s sexuality should get in the way of the characters they play onscreen. The Will & Grace star said this week he feels “the best person for the role” should be cast in all projects, regardless of the actor’s personal identity.

McCormack, who is straight, played protagonist Will, who is gay, on NBC’s beloved Will & Grace. The actor said during a Monday appearance on ITV’s Good Morning Britain reported by Out magazine that “I didn’t become an actor so that I could play an actor.”

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“There’s no part I’ve ever played where I wasn’t playing something I’m not,” McCormack continued. “It’s part of the gig. And I’ve always said, if gay actors weren’t allowed to play straight actors, Broadway would be over.”

He added, “So this is what we do. I’d like to think that I represent it well. I came from the theater, and one of my best friends was a gay man. So I think I took their spirit and their message in what was otherwise just a sitcom and, represented it, I hope.”

Will & Grace ran from 1998 to 2006. NBC subsequently released three reunion seasons from 2016 to 2020. Along with McCormack, the show starred Debra Messing as Grace, Will’s straight friend, Megan Mullally as Karen, Grace’s assistant, and Sean Hayes as Jack, Will’s close friend who is also gay.

In celebration of the show’s 25th anniversary last summer, the Paley Center for Media presented an exhibit featuring costumes and props from the show, along with a panel featuring McCormack and Messing alongside co-creators and executive producers Max Mutchnick and David Kohan.

Will & Grace broke barriers and was a driving force in leading to greater LGBTQ+ representation in media,” said Maureen J. Reidy, president and CEO of the Paley Center at the time. “The Paley Center is thrilled to celebrate the series’ milestone anniversary and showcase its profound and enduring impact on television and culture with this exclusive exhibit at the Paley Museum.”

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