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Will & Grace's Eric McCormack is in an interesting position these days. He's back on network TV playing a popular gay character, while in his personal life he's a straight man, married to Janet Holden since 1997, just shortly before Will & Grace began airing in 1998. Reflecting on the role, McCormack recently admitted he probably wouldn't even be invited to audition these days. The actor noted in a recent interview that the TV landscape has changed over the past two decades, leading to more diversity in roles. He succinctly said:
I probably wouldn't get anywhere near this role.
There are still some straight actors playing gay characters on television. Eric McCormack is one of them and Modern Family's Eric Stonestreet also comes to mind. However, the TV landscape has been opening up a lot more in recent years for actors from different backgrounds and communities to take on roles.
This year in particular saw broadcast TV incorporate 8.8 percent of its actors as people in the LGBTQ community--that's a higher number than has ever occurred previously.
At the time when Will & Grace was initially broadcast, the show was coming shortly after Ellen DeGeneres' Ellen was cancelled due to low ratings after Ellen's character had come out on her show. (DeGeneres previously revealed she dealt with death threats around that time as well.)
For a major network to even greenlight another show with gay lead characters at the time was a big deal, and Eric McCormack also told the Sydney Morning Herald that because of the times, him nabbing the role when Will & Grace came up wasn't as noteworthy as it would likely be today.
I think it wasn't a terrible thing in 1998 that a straight guy played the role, but I'm glad that times are changing, and I'm glad that nowadays a Will Truman would probably be cast with someone who is gay. But does that mean that now when you walk into a casting room you have to state whether you are straight or gay? I don't know.
You can catch Eric McCormack and the rest of the gang in action on Thursday nights at 9 p.m. ET, although it is moving into the Thursday night at 9:30 p.m. slot when the show returns to the winter schedule on January 31.
To take a look at when the rest of your favorites will be returning at midseason, be sure to check out our full TV premiere schedule.