Eric McCormack isn’t sure he’d be cast if Will & Grace was made in 2018.
The actor has played titular character Will Truman in the multi-Emmy-winning series since it first hit screens in 1998, becoming one of the first – and most well-known – fictional gay men to enter into people’s homes.
But unlike his character, Eric is straight-identifying, and two decades later where representation and diversity are such hot topics, Eric’s not sure he’d be cast in the role if it was made today – but he’s totally fine with that.
“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,” he told Sydney Morning Herald.
“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.”
He also said that playing Will on the show has allowed him the chance to “give back” the LGBTQ community.
“I get to be the straight-guy ambassador to the rest of the world for a community that has been shouting for a long time to be heard and to be recognised,” he said.
Eric’s comments come amid intense debate over whether or not gay roles should primarily be given to openly gay actors, who often find it harder than their straight counterparts to land diverse roles.
Earlier this year, Jack Whitehall faced backlash after it was announced that he will be playing Disney’s first openly gay character on the big screen in 2019 action-adventure film Jungle Cruise.
While Disney having an openly gay character in a big-budget movie may be a turning point, many reacted poorly to the news that a straight actor will be playing the role, and worried that the character will be reduced to a stereotype.