Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Happy Birthday to 'Will & Grace' Actor Eric McCormack

Eric McCormack was born today, April 18, in 1963. He is a Canadian-American actor known for his role as out lawyer Will Truman in the American sitcom Will & Grace. Though McCormack is not technically part of the LGBTQ community, he is a well-known ally and the impact of Will & Grace and his playing the role of Will Truman has been recognized as helping to contribute to many of the advances achieved since the series began. 

In 2012, then-vice president Joe Biden, on an appearance on Meet the Press, said the show was a factor in his decision to support marriage equality. “I think ‘Will & Grace’ probably did more to educate the American public than almost anything anybody has ever done so far,” Biden said.

McCormack was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. While he was growing up, he was shy and did not play sports but was involved in theatre from an early age: "I was a bit of an outsider, but I discovered theatre very early on, which got me through." McCormack later attended Sir John A. Macdonald Collegiate Institute in Scarborough, Ontario, where he was a classmate of David Furnish. There, he enrolled in theatre classes and performed in high school productions of Godspell and Pippin

McCormack recalls that after performing in Godspell, his feelings toward becoming an actor solidified and he decided to pursue a career in acting. "I remember after the first performance of that... I knew where to fit in. That was the beginning of my life as an actor. It changed me in that the concept of any other options disappeared. From that moment there was no question. I knew exactly what I was going to do. I'm lucky that way."

McCormack graduated from high school in 1982 and then enrolled at Ryerson University School of Theatre in Toronto to further improve his acting. He left Ryerson in 1985, several months before graduating, to accept a position with the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario, where he spent five seasons performing.

McCormack made his Canadian television debut in the 1986 movie The Boys from Syracuse. McCormack moved to Los Angeles, California, and made his US television debut in a 1991 episode of the CBS crime series Top Cops. He appeared in the 1992 theatrical film The Lost World, based on Conan Doyle's novel of the same name and starred in The Lost World sequel, Return to the Lost World, also released in 1992. By 1993, he landed a recurring role as a detective in the crime drama Street Justice. Also in 1993, McCormack appeared in the television movie Double, Double, Toil and Trouble, playing Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's father.

He played the role of Colonel Francis Clay Mosby in 42 episodes of the Western television series Lonesome Dove: The Series (1994), which was later renamed Lonesome Dove: The Outlaw Years (1995). 

In an interview with The Guardian in 2003, McCormack admitted to auditioning "two or three times" for the part of Ross Geller, which ultimately went to David Schwimmer, for the situation comedy Friends
McCormack received his breakthrough role in 1998 when he was cast as Will Truman on Will & Grace. McCormack said that when the part came along, he was convinced he was right for the role. "At the end of the audition, Max Mutchnick, co-creator and executive producer of the show said 'That was perfect. Just to let you know, you never have to be more gay than that.'" He explained that when he first read the script, "what hit me immediately was that this was me. I mean, sexual orientation aside, Will was so much like me. He's a great host, he's relatively funny and he has great friends and he's a good friend to them ... the gay issue just wasn't really a big thing." 

For this performance, McCormack earned four Emmy Award nominations (2000, 2001, 2003, 2005), one of which resulted in a win (2001), for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. In addition, he received five Golden Globe Award nominations.

During the 2001 Broadway season, McCormack briefly portrayed Professor Harold Hill (replacing Craig Bierko) in the Susan Stroman revival of The Music Man. In August 2002, as part of the Hollywood Bowl's summer concert series, he reprised the role of Harold Hill for a one-night only appearance in which he and other actors recreated the songs from the production.

Will & Grace's eighth and (at the time) final season ended with the series finale on May 18, 2006. The finale garnered 18 million American viewers, making it the most-watched entertainment telecast in 6 years.

In January 2017, NBC closed a deal for a new, 10-episode season of Will & Grace, which is currently airing, during the 2017-18 season. The new show has been branded as a "reboot" or "revival," taking place 11 years after the original series' finale episode, and McCormack has reprised his role of the beloved Will Truman. In April 2017, the episode order was increased to 12 episodes. In August 2017, it was extended again, to 16 episodes, and a second 13-episode season was ordered. In March 2018, NBC ordered five more episodes for the revival's second season, bringing the total to 18 episodes, and also renewed the show for an 18-episode third season. Eric McCormack will be continuing his role of Will Truman for all of the announced seasons of the revival.

Following the end of Will & Grace, McCormack starred on the New York stage opposite Fran Drescher in Neil LaBute's off-Broadway play Some Girl(s). He played a writer who is ready to settle down and marry, but decides to visit four ex-girlfriends first. For his performance, McCormack received positive critical reviews. New York Times contributor Ben Brantley, in review of the production, wrote: "Playing a thoughtless, woman-despising heterosexual, Mr. McCormack isn't much different from when he was playing a thoughtful, woman-worshiping homosexual."

In October 2010, it was reported that McCormack would star in a new TNT television drama, Perception, playing a crime-solving neuroscientist named Dr. Daniel Pierce, who works with the federal government to solve cases using his knowledge and imaginative view of the world. Perception premiered on July 9, 2012. McCormack also serves as producer for the show.

McCormack has set up his own production company called Big Cattle Productions to develop ideas for television. The projects produced by the company include Lovespring International and Imperfect Union.

McCormack has been married to Janet Holden, whom he met on the set of Lonesome Dove, since August 1997. They have a son, Finnigan Holden McCormack, born on July 1, 2002, in Los Angeles. McCormack maintains residences in Los Angeles and Vancouver. He became a US citizen in 1999 and holds dual Canadian and US citizenship.

McCormack is involved in many Los Angeles and Canadian-based charitable organizations including Project Angel Food. The Wellness Community West Los Angeles Tribute to the Human Spirit Awards dinner presented an award to McCormack for his breast cancer awareness advocacy. He shared with the audience how his comedy helped his mother, Doris McCormack, endure her breast cancer treatments. Doris was honored at the Lifetime's Breast Cancer Heroes Luncheon in 2004. He serves as an honorary board member of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) and was given the MMRF Spirit of Hope Award in October 2006.

McCormack supported same-sex marriage and attended a march in Fresno, California, on May 30, 2009, after the Supreme Court of California upheld a ban on same-sex marriage approved by voters in November by ballot Proposition 8.

No comments: