April 2, 2009 / 8:47 PM / 10 years ago

Just a Minute With: Eric McCormack in "Alien Trespass"

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Canadian actor Eric McCormack received his big Hollywood break in 1998 playing Will Truman in the hit U.S. television series “Will & Grace,” a role that earned him five Golden Globe nominations and an Emmy.

Canadian actor Eric McCormack arrives at the 35th annual People's Choice awards in Los Angeles January 7, 2009. REUTERS/Phil McCarten

But McCormack, 46, has enjoyed a diverse career in genres that include westerns such as “Lonesome Dove: The Outlaws Years,” “The Music Man” on Broadway, sci-fi adventures such as “The Andromeda Strain,” and his new comedy movie, “Alien Trespass.”

McCormack spoke to Reuters about his new film and switching between movies and television.

Q: What was the appeal of this film for you? Are you a big science fiction fan?

A: “Not so much, though I end up doing a lot of it, oddly. But I love the period of it. It’s set in the ‘50s, and I’m a big fan of that era. I basically love period stuff, whether it’s Shakespeare or the ‘70s - anything that sets me somewhere else.”

Q: You play dual roles in “Alien Trespass” - Ted Lewis, a nerdy, science teacher, and the charismatic alien, Urp, who takes over Ted’s body. Did they pay you twice?

A: “I guess they should have. Except that when I’m Urp, I’m inside Ted’s body, so I think they looked at it that way.”

Q: You have a lot of scenes with Australian Jenni Bard, who is also making her motion picture debut as Tammy, the sexy blonde waitress at the local diner. How tough was that?

A: “You saw how she looks, so yeah, it was tough (laughs). She’s a blast. When we first met over drinks before the shoot, I thought, she’s not Australian, she sounds so American. So I said, ‘Am I wrong?’ And she said, ‘I am Australian, but you’ll never hear it.’ And I never did — on screen, off screen, she never dropped her American accent. It wasn’t until the final day she finally let it go after I begged her!

Q: Once Urp takes over Ted’s body you get to do a lot of physical comedy. Was that fun for you?

A: “Absolutely. (Director) Bob was very serious about this not being a send up, and the (humor) coming from someplace real. And I love that too. So I treated Ted’s body kind of like a stolen car. He’s never been a human being before, so it’s all weird.”

Q: Bob worked on “The X-Files,” but this was his debut as a movie director. Did that make you nervous?

A: “No, because I’ve worked with a lot of directors who’ve done a lot of things and it doesn’t necessarily make them any better. And often a first-time director brings a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and desire. They’re not jaded.”

Q: What’s happening in your TV career now?

A: “I did a series for TNT called “Trust Me” which is still airing, but it doesn’t look like it’ll come back, and I just shot an untitled comedy pilot for ABC, so we’ll see what happens with that.”

Q: Do you want to keep bouncing between TV, stage and film?

A: “I really do, even though it makes it a little confusing for my agents and managers, in terms of selling, but I just love the variety. In three weeks I’m starting a short two-week run in “The Fantasticks” here which Jason Alexander is directing. I’m doing it because I love the play, I’m free, and it’s a short run. It was the same with this film. I don’t have this big career plan. For the longest time I had a series commitment, so you squeezed other projects in. And now it’s whatever comes next.”

Q: How do you look back on “Will & Grace”?

A: “With such fondness. No matter what I do, it’ll be what’s on my tombstone. Here lies Will!”

Editing by Bob Tourtellotte

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