Sean Hayes, reknowned for playing Jack in Will & Grace, has been keeping himself busy since the show stopped filming, most recently guest starring in Hot In Cleveland, on which he is also executive producer. He tells LISA WILLIAMS all about it
HOW ARE YOU?
I’m good. I’ve just been in New York filming three episodes of Smash and now I’m back in LA. I’m doing three episodes of Up All Night here, with Maya Rudolph and Will Arnett.
THAT SOUNDS QUITE HARDCORE..
Yes, just flying back and forth between New York and LA is hard. It just so happened that they’re shooting both shows at the same time. But that’s OK, I love it. I always have trouble sleeping but when you travel and work so much it’s easy, it’s like an Ambien but without taking it.
YOU COULD BE A RICH MAN WITH THAT IDEA.
Yes, write it down.
YOU’RE THE EXECUTIVE PRODUCER ON HOT IN CLEVELAND, SO WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO APPEAR IN IT TOO?
The head writer walked in to my office and said, ‘Do you want to play a guy that is a hand model?’ And I said, ‘Absolutely, that sounds hilarious’. It was that easy. It’s nice being a producer on a show and being an actor at the same time as you slip in when you want, and it’s a nice set to be around.
WHAT IS BETTY WHITE LIKE?
Betty is everything you would imagine, she is the sweetest, kindest person with the most phenomenal comic timing. She keeps everyone on their toes. She memorises her lines like no other.
TELL ME MORE ABOUT CHAD...
I go on a date with Wendie Malick’s character. She tells the girls she’s finally found a model, and then it’s revealed I’m actually a hand model, and I’m so involved in my hands and showing them off to everyone that I’m not actually the best choice for a date.
ARE THERE LOTS OF HAND-RELATED GAGS?
The writers know I love physical comedy, so it was a perfect place to mine for laughs. There’s one part where the guest star starts to faint and I don’t want to use my hands to catch her so I manipulate myself to catch her with my elbows instead.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE GETTING BACK INTO STUDIO COMEDY AFTER FINISHING WILL & GRACE?
All that time away from it made it very scary to revisit and in the first take with Wendie I was shaking a little bit. I said, ‘I’m so nervous, it’s been so long’, and she said, ‘Oh, please!’ Then after a few takes I was like, ‘Oh, I remember this’. And it was quite lovely.
HOW WAS YOUR REUNION WITH DEBRA MESSING ON THE SET OF SMASH?
It was great. Our characters don’t cross paths but it was great to see her at the table read and it’s been so long since we caught up on each other’s lives. She’s going through a divorce right now, which is public knowledge, so we just gabbed and caught up, and I saw pictures of her son Roman, who is growing up so fast. It seems like yesterday that he was on the Will & Grace set as an infant.
WAS THERE TALK OF A WILL & GRACE REUNION?
We all want that to happen, it’s just about timing. Some people feel it hasn’t been long enough in order to warrant a reunion, but I would do one tomorrow, why not?
WHAT HAS THE SHOW’S LEGACY BEEN SO FAR?
I’d like to believe the by-product of the show was to educate people through humour and open the doors which have clearly been opened. Joe Biden said, and I’m paraphrasing, if it hadn’t been for Will & Grace, he doesn’t know if we’d be at this point (in terms of gay marriage), and that was extremely flattering. Ellen took a giant step for us and we took a giant step for Modern Family. And Modern Family’s taking a giant step for something else. Every little bit helps to shine the light on people’s views of what normal means.
IN REAL LIFE WHAT’S YOUR HUMOUR LIKE?
I don’t have the energy to be Jack any more, well maybe I do, but I love clever wit and I love sarcasm. I really enjoy wit in others and challenging myself to go tete-a-tete with a witty person.
ARE THERE ANY OTHER PROJECTS YOU WANT TO MENTION?
Yes, how much time do you have? How’s Grimm doing over there? I’m executive producer on that. And I’m in Monster’s Inc 2, which comes out next summer. If I think of anything else, I’ll call you.
:: Hot In Cleveland and Will & Grace continue on Sony TV on Fridays as part of its Friday Night Comedy bill. Sean Hayes guest stars in Hot In Cleveland on Friday, October 5