‘Will & Grace’ Star Weighs In On Straight Actors Playing Gay Characters

Eric McCormack
Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for SCAD aTVfest 2020

“Will & Grace” star Eric McCormack says straight actors should be able to play gay characters just like he did on the popular NBC sitcom.

The 60-year-old actor was asked his thoughts on the debate which is currently raging in Hollywood. Some individuals believe that only people who identify as LGBTQ should get those parts. Not everyone agrees.

“That’s a tough one for me because I didn’t become an actor so that I could play an actor,” McCormack said on Good Morning Britain, per Deadline. “There’s no part I’ve ever played where I wasn’t playing something I’m not. It’s part of the gig.”

The actor added another counterpoint, saying, “If gay actors weren’t allowed to play straight actors, Broadway would be over. So this is what we do.”

McCormack became a household name starring in the Emmy Award-winning “Will & Grace” (1998 – 2006). The actor played Will Truman, a gay lawyer who lived with his best friend Grace Adler (Debra Messing) in New York City. The show has been credited with bringing gay characters into the mainstream. When he was vice president, Joe Biden said in 2012 that the show “probably did more to educate the American public” on LGBT issues “than almost anything anybody has ever done so far.”

McCormack told Good Morning Britain that he believes he was able to portray an LGBTQ character accurately. “I came from the theater, and every one of my best friends was a gay man. So, I think I took their spirit and their message in what was otherwise just a sitcom and represented, I hope,” he said. 

When asked who should be cast in a similar role today, the Canadian native replied, “I guess the answer would be, they’d have to say in the casting, ‘And you’re gay, right?’ Which I don’t think they can say,” McCormack said. “I would like to think, in general, that the best person for the role, the one that comes in and knocks it out of the park, is the one that gets the part.”

Several other celebs have weighed in on the subject. In June 2023, Stanley Tucci also argued that straight actors should be cast as gay characters just as he has been. Meanwhile, Tom Hanks has a different take.

“Could a straight man do what I did in ‘Philadelphia’ now? No, and rightly so,” he told The New York Times in a 2022 interview.

“The whole point of ‘Philadelphia’ was don’t be afraid. One of the reasons people weren’t afraid of that movie is that I was playing a gay man,” he added.


“We’re beyond that now. I don’t think people would accept the inauthenticity of a straight guy playing a gay guy. It’s not a crime, it’s not boohoo, that someone would say we are going to demand more of a movie in the modern realm of authenticity. Do I sound like I’m preaching? I don’t mean to.”

Hanks won the Best Actor Academy Award for playing a gay lawyer diagnosed with AIDS in “Philadelphia” (1993).

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