Belfast Telegraph

Will & Grace’s Sean Hayes promises ‘best ever episodes’ in new series

The star said the show will continue to break social and political ground in the comedy genre.

Will & Grace star Sean Hayes has promised that the show’s comeback series will bring fans the “best ever episodes” of its 20-year history.

The actor, who plays flamboyant Jack McFarland, said the hit US sitcom is just as socially ground-breaking as it was when it first came to screens in 1998.

After a hiatus of more than a decade, the show will return to Channel 5 on Friday, bringing a humorous side to issues such as the American government and online dating.

Hayes, 47, told the Press Association: “I think these are some of the best episodes we’ve ever had, in comparison to the whole thing.

“The show will always comment on what’s going on socially, in pop culture, in politics, in sex and religion, and anything that is true to the characters is true to the world. If you were a fan of the show before, I’m pretty sure you’ll be satisfied, even more so, now.”

The award-winning series, which brought together stars Eric McCormack (Will Truman), Debra Messing (Grace Adler), Megan Mullally (Karen Walker) and Hayes, won over global audiences with its open and light-hearted approach to sexuality and prejudice.

Creator Max Mutchnik’s idea to bring it back came after the cast reunited to air a one-off topical clip during the US elections in November 2016.

Episode one opens in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s rise to the presidency and sees both Grace and Will unexpectedly brought into the White House.

On returning to the set, Hayes said: “Time plays tricks with your head, in that, it really felt like we just took two weeks off, but it had been 11 years.

“But the wonderful thing is we went through that whole experience together and became a family. We have a shorthand and now we work fast and furious and have a joyful time doing so.

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31st Annual People’s Choice Awards – Pasadena Civic Auditorium

“You don’t want to let the fans down, so we put in extra hours and are very meticulous about every single word that they write and that we act. Of course there’s always trepidation about whether we will be able to deliver and be accepted again, and that fear was alleviated, thank God.

“Everybody really welcomed us back with open arms. It was a big sigh of relief that we did a good job and the fans let us know they are loving it again.”

But on returning to his own theatrical character, whose presence often involved some impressive dance and gymnastic moves, he confessed: “I am completely different to when I first did the show at 28, so it took a while to get back into the skin of Jack McFarland.

“With the help of writers I slowly began to find the voice and the physicality of it again. But it takes a lot of energy to play that guy. I have to stretch and warm up a little longer now.”

While Jack often stands in as the class clown of the group, Hayes told how he enjoyed filming episodes that touched on some more serious issues.

“There is an episode where Jack finds out he is a grandfather… It deals with gay conversion therapy and the grandson gets sent to a conversion camp.

“Obviously it’s the most ridiculous, hokey idea in the world and doesn’t work. So it’s hilarious and it’s also touching and educational – those are my favourite kind of episodes.”

He added: “I like attacking (through the show) anything that is illogical; issues that any person with a brain would come at with a logical sensibility.

“I like the fact that the show takes issues and either educates people without them knowing it, or addresses them in such a comical way that you don’t even realise it was a stupid idea to begin with.”

With an acting career spanning four decades, Hayes admitted that Jack McFarland is the character he will “always be known for most” – especially as he told of plans for a second 13-part season and talks of a possible third.

:: Will & Grace will air on Channel 5 at 10pm on Fridays from January 5.

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