September 28, 2017 / 1:08 PM / 3 years ago

A Minute With: Eric McCormack on new rules for 'Will & Grace'

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Television comedy “Will & Grace” returns on Thursday with big shoes to fill: its own.

FILE PHOTO: Cast member Eric McCormack attends a panel for the television series "Will & Grace" during the TCA NBC Summer Press Tour in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., August 3, 2017. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said in 2012 that the 1990s series about a gay lawyer living with his straight female friend “probably did more to educate the American public (about gay issues) than almost anything anybody’s ever done so far.”

After an 11-year gap following its 2006 series finale, the show returns to NBC with the four original stars: Eric McCormack (Will), Debra Messing (Grace), Sean Hayes (Jack) and Megan Mullally (Karen).

Reuters spoke with McCormack about what audiences can expect. Following are edited excerpts.

Q: Is there pressure to live up to the show’s reputation?

A: “Sure there is. But I think its iconic reputation came later. It was only when we went off the air that people looked back and thought, ‘my mom hated gay people but now she’s the biggest “Will & Grace” fan and now I can have a conversation with her.’ That’s when the import became tangible.”

Q: Eleven years on, are there things the show can do now than it couldn’t do before?

A: “We used to have to traffic in double entendre because we were on a network. But now we have got the president of the United States and his spokespeople saying things they are not supposed to say on television. So the rules are broken. ... I know we are going to push the boundaries because there is no fun if you don’t. We’ll see what America’s up for.”

Q: Where is Will in his life in the revival?

A: “Will is still a lawyer, he’s doing very well, he’s redecorated the apartment. It’s very beautiful, very upscale.”

Q: And he’s still living with Grace?

A: “He found love, but he broke up. Grace, same thing. She was married to Harry Connick Jr.’s character, but they have split up. I think that’s a great story to tell. If you go off and split up and then come back to your best friend, what is that? For Will, I think it’s because he is comfortable and confident.”

Q: And Jack?A: “Jack does NOT like aging, so we’ll get to see his dates with younger men - the power gay.”

Q: Are you concerned about possible backlash to the show?

A: “No, but we want that water cooler effect, although now it’s the Twitter effect.”

Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Jonathan Oatis

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