A few months ago, Will & Grace celebrated its 20th anniversary. The seminal sitcom premiered on NBC on Sept. 21, 1998, and unlike most shows, Will & Grace is still on the air with new episodes 20 years later and showing no signs of stopping. Although the original series concluded in 2006, the gang picked up right where they left off 11 years later in a 2017 revival series that is currently in its second season and already picked up for a third. Elite Daily caught up with Debra Messing to talk about how playing Grace on Will & Grace changed from the original series to the revival, and what went on behind the scenes when deciding whether or not to agree to the revival.
Debra Messing introduced the world to the neurotic but lovable interior designer Grace Adler when Will & Grace premiered in 1998. For eight seasons, fans watched as Grace struggled to find romantic love in New York City, but she was always able to fall back on her circle of friends: Will, Jack, and Karen. Though she had a ton of very serious, dramatic moments, Grace was also a zany character — whether she was loudly singing out of tune or scarfing down a whole cheesecake — which was something that Messing had to grapple with when returning to the role for the revival series. Messing said that it was important for her to show how Grace had matured in the 11 years since we last saw her, but also make her the same, recognizable Grace that fans loved in the original show.
The solution: Throw in the zany bits Grace is known for right away, and refocus the character's objectives away from simply finding a husband. "Coming back, it was really important for me to think about the time that had past, because I’m a completely different person than I was 11 years ago," Messing tells me. "And so I felt Grace has to be different, but she also has to be recognizable enough to the fans of the show. So the things that we sort of focused on right away was the clumsiness and the singing that she does, and things that identify her right away. But then it was important that she had matured."
Messing continues, "The first go-around, the whole focus was really on finding a partner and getting married. So when we came back, we all knew already that she had been divorced, and now old enough where children were not really an option unless she wanted to adopt. Really the focus was on showing a strong, independent, single woman who is very successful in her career, and very happy and content and fulfilled by her very, very close friends, who are her chosen family."
And the friendships among the Will & Grace cast are just as strong as among the show's characters. Debra Messing, Eric McCormack, Sean Hayes, and Megan Mullally first reunited at the end of 2016 to film a 10-minute Will & Grace clip meant simply to encourage viewers to vote in the presidential election, but that clip received so many views that NBC decided to go all-in on a full revival series, which came as a shock to the four stars. Messing revealed that the four actors discussed the revival idea over dinner, and agreed that they would do it for just 10 episodes.
But clearly, that 10-episode pact did not hold up. The Will & Grace revival series has already aired 24 episodes after a season-and-a-half on the air, and NBC has already picked up a third 18-episode season for 2019. Messing said that during the first read-through for the revival, the NBC president immediately ordered a full season, and the ball has just continued to roll from there.
In addition to returning to Will & Grace, Messing has also recently partnered with Colgate Optic White. Messing noted that as a single mother, she can't waste her time on things that don't work, and Colgate Optic White toothpaste has worked so well to keep her smile shining that she was excited to tell others about it.
Will & Grace airs Thursday nights on NBC.