Will & Grace star Eric McCormack reveals the controversial episode that was banned from reruns

Sean Hayes as Jack (L) and Eric McCormack as Will (R) in Will & Grace. Eric McCormack on WIll and Grace episode that got pulled.

Will & Grace actor Eric McCormack has spilt scorching hot tea on the controversial, boundary-pushing episode that never made it to reruns.

The US sitcom Will & Grace paved the way for openly gay characters in mainstream US television in the late 1990s. Over the course of two decades, 11 seasons, 246 episodes and guest appearances including the late Leslie Jordan, the show faced everything from death threats to rumoured backstage feuds.

Now. Eric McCormack, who played gay lawyer Will Truman, has revealed another notch to the show’s scandalous belt.

During The Magic of Will & Grace panel at The Paley Center for Media in New York on Monday (6 June), McCormack shared that an episode from the first season which aired in April 1999, titled “Will Works Out”, was pulled due to a contentious scene between Will and his notoriously flamboyant gay friend Jack McFarland (Sean Hayes) at the gym.

“He [Jack] was being particularly gay,” McCormack, 60, reminisced about the scene. “And I called him the f-word. And they didn’t repeat that episode.

“That’s the one episode that’s never ever been ever aired again. But there was such truth to it.”

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During the episode, Will watches Jack bring his usual exuberant personality to his local gym and even try to flirt with one of his clients, leading to Will calling him a f*g.

Jack confronts him for using derogatory term but Will doubles down by telling him every time he talks “a purse falls out”. Instead of giving up, Jack unpacks Will’s internalised homophobia and makes him question why he tried to distance himself from Jack’s camp personality. We eventually see Will apologise for his language.

“[It’s] the only episode where we lost sponsors,” McCormack continued. “So we did take that issue on. But that issue, particularly, was within the gay community.

“There are levels and there were feelings, and we dared to sort of show them.”

Elsewhere in the panel, one of the producers opened up about another risky scene, this time from the pilot. After jilting her fiancee at the altar, Will’s best friend Grace (Debra Messing) shares a kiss with Will while distraught and pessimistic about ever finding true love.

“And Grace says to Will, ‘Anything? Anything?’ … That would never, ever fly today,” the producer joked.

Fans of the show will get the chance to learn countless more behind-the-scenes secrets as McCormack and Hayes, who reconnected “just before COVID” are launching a Will & Grace rewatch podcast called Just Jack and Will.

“It’s Sean and I watching the show, but really watching the minutiae,” he told the audience.

“Rediscovering who we were, the choices we made. You shoot 24 episodes, sometimes in a season, you’re not stopping to think. You’re not stopping to breathe … You’re kind of marvelling at your young self, like Back to the Future.

“We’re watching ourselves going, ‘Huh, would I still make that choice? Did I become funnier? Did I become better?'”