Will & Grace star defends straight actors playing gay roles

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 star Eric McCormack has weighed in on the debate about whether straight actors should play gay characters. 

McCormack, who is straight and was married to his wife for 26 years before filing for divorce last year, played gay lawyer Will Truman in the trailblazing NBC sitcom. 

During an appearance on Good Morning Britain on Monday (19 March), the star said: “I didn’t become an actor so that I could play an actor. There’s no part I’ve ever played where I wasn’t playing something I’m not. 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.

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

Eric McCormack visits SiriusXM Studios on August 08, 2023 in New York City.
Eric McCormack has weighed in on straight actors playing gay roles. (Jason Mendez/Getty Images)

Will & Grace originally ran for eight seasons between 1998 and 2006 before being revived in 2017 for three further seasons.

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The show was the first primetime series to feature out LGBTQ+ lead characters and its cultural impact was undeniable. In 2012, then vice-president Joe Biden said the show did “more to educate the American public than almost anything anybody has ever done” about queer people.

“People fear that which is different, now they’re beginning to understand,” Biden added.

Will & Grace is coming to an end for the second time
The Will & Grace cast during the show’s heyday. (NBC)

McCormack, who went on to appear in Departure and Perception, as well as in Gore Vidal’s The Best Man, on Broadway, has previously said he would probably not now play Will, because of changing attitudes to casting LGBTQ+ folks in queer roles. 

“I’m glad that nowadays a Will Truman would probably be cast with someone who is gay,” he said in 2018. “It wasn’t a terrible thing in 1998 that a straight guy played the role, but I’m glad that times are changing.

“But does that mean that now when you walk into a casting room you have to state whether you are straight or gay? I don’t know.”

McCormack, a staunch supporter of same-sex marriage, added: “The show has given me a chance to give back. I get to be the straight-guy ambassador for a community that has been shouting for a long time to be heard and to be recognised.”

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