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Eric McCormack Says Meeting Your Heroes Is as Nerve-racking as It Sounds

The Will & Grace star on airport lounge encounters and why Vancouver never gets old.

Eric McCormack

Best known as one half of NBC’s iconic Will & Grace, the recently revived show now in its second — well, technically 10th — season, Eric McCormack plays against type in Travelers, as a century-hopping, identity-swapping FBI agent. (The sci-fi series’ third and final season was released on Netflix in December.) We sat down with him in Toronto to talk dream roles, airport lounge encounters and why Vancouver never gets old.


Which episodes of Will & Grace created the most change?
The one where Jack comes out to his mother in season two and the flashback episode when Will came out to Grace. In the early 2000s, coming out was still a big deal. Nowadays, I have friends whose sons and daughters are gay and they’re like, “What do you mean, ‘coming out’? This is just who I am.” Remember that a show like Will & Grace was a rare thing on television. There weren’t any gay characters to model yourself after or at least think, “Thank God they’re out there.”

You have a lot of stage experience. What’s your dream role?
I’ve spent my whole career wanting to play Che in Evita since I first saw it in New York.

What place never gets old for you?
Vancouver. What’s that line from A Room with a View? “Women like looking at a view; men don’t.” So not true. I didn’t realize how much I love a good view until I got there. You can look at the ocean and a mountain at the same time. The place has changed my downtime – I ride my Vespa to Granville Island and buy food for the evening at the market there, scoot over the bridges to ride downtown and into Stanley Park. I can never get over how much beauty there is in British Columbia.

Who’s the most interesting person you’ve met on a plane?
It was in an Air Canada lounge! It was Treat Williams. I hadn’t even noticed him, and he leaned over and said, “Hey man, I just want to say I like your work.” I said, “Wait a minute. Stop! No! Let’s start this conversation again. I get to say that.” His performance in Hair is one of my touchstones.

Is it true what they say about meeting your heroes?
It took me years to figure out that you’ve got to be careful how you meet them. I passed Alice Cooper on the street in Chicago in 1985 when I was on tour with Stratford. I froze. He looked at me and he gave me an opening, but I was too scared. The next time I saw him was in an elevator in London. I started babbling and his bodyguard almost threw me out. The third time was in Vancouver, on the street. That time I got it right. I briefly introduced myself and was intelligent and dignified. I’ve become friends with Elton John and Elvis Costello, so I’m constantly reminding myself to breathe and think.

Your biggest packing fail?
Packing too little. Always. I’ll fly somewhere to do press and be in the same clothes for every event.

Who is your favourite person to travel with?
My wife. We talk each other’s ears off.

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