Debra Messing’s portrayal of Grace Adler and Megan Mullally’s indelible performance as Karen Walker in “Will & Grace” have become downright iconic, so much so that it’s practically impossible to imagine anyone but them playing those roles — especially now that the show is set to make its much-anticipated return next week when “Will & Grace” debuts Thursday, Sept. 28 on Global.
Yet as Mullally divulges in the latest issue of Parade, things could have gone far differently — because she initially auditioned to play Grace! Thankfully, the universe had other plans for her. “They were like, ‘Next!’” Mullally says, laughing, of her unsuccessful audition.
She tried again, this time auditioning for the role of boozy Karen, and things went significantly better when she decided to pull out all the stops to make the character her own. “I tried to make her just a little quirkier and added the ‘honeys,’ the tics and the laughing,” she adds.
In the interview, Mullally, Messing and co-stars Eric McCormack and Sean Hayes discuss the upcoming revival, with McCormack explaining that this new iteration of “Will & Grace” (which ended its run back in 2006) will be the same, yet different.
“It’s not the same as a comedy of a bunch of 24-year-olds sitting around and yakking,” says McCormack of the 19 years that have elapsed since the show’s debut in 1998, and the 11 years that have passed since the show went off the air. “I think it’ll be richer, honestly.”
The original “Will & Grace” earned a reputation for bringing in a seemingly endless parade of A-list guest stars, yet for Messing one stands out: the late Debbie Reynolds, who played the recurring role of Grace’s mother.
“She had a chromosome that would not allow her to stop performing,” says Messing of the “Singin’ in the Rain” star, who passed away in December just days after the death of daughter Carrie Fisher. “Whether it was for the custodian walking by or the craft services woman giving her soup, she would entertain them. She would sing, she would tell jokes.”
Those jokes, adds Messing, were definitely not as wholesome as Reynolds’ onscreen image. “She had a dirty mouth,” says Messing, laughing. “You were convinced she was gonna moon people any second — she was outrageous! And that’s why we loved her.”
Don’t miss the new TV season’s most anticipated revival when “Will & Grace” debuts on Thursday, Sept. 28 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Global.