TORONTO (CP) _ Eric McCormack doesn’t rest on his laurels _ or rest much at all these days, for that matter. The Toronto-born actor, who played gay lawyer Will Truman on the Emmy-winning "Will & Grace," says he’s been taking breaks "on planes" lately as he seeks non-sitcom related work now that the popular series has wrapped up.
"Now is the time to get while the gettin’s good," he said during a recent interview in Toronto, where he’ll co-host a variety show for the Gilda’s Club cancer support centre next month.
McCormack, 43, and his "Will & Grace" co-stars, Debra Messing, Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally gave their final bows in May after eight seasons. But while most of his cast mates took time off to reflect on the adventure, McCormack, a veteran stage actor, was already packing his bags for a summertime role in the Neil LaBute off-Broadway play "Some Girls."
"I literally left the Will & Grace wrap party to go home and get sleep because I flew the next day to New York to start working," he said.
"I think in retrospect, I wish I hadn’t. It was just too much all at once. But it was a such a 180 degrees from Will and I just wanted the chance, and I love Neil LaBute’s writing."
It’s a welcome change of pace for McCormack, who grew up in the Toronto suburb of Scarborough, studied theatre at Ryerson University and spent five years at the Stratford Festival.
Working three hours a day on set in front of a live audience filled with "rabid" fans was becoming too comfortable and "seductive" a routine, he says, and he was starting to feel the need to shake things up. So when the show ended, he made the decision to not actively pursue sitcom roles anymore.
"There’s the old saying about, you know, why go out for hamburger if you can have steak at home? I think it’s supposed to be about your wife, but the point is, I had steak for eight years," says McCormack, who has a four-year-old son, Finnigan, with his wife Janet Holden.
McCormack, who has appeared in musicals and recorded a song with Barry Manilow, is also worried about being typecast.
"I can’t blame anybody for looking at me and thinking about Will, you know, it’s on all the time and it was on for eight years," he says in a suit jacket and jeans combo that could easily pass for a Will outfit.
"I just have to go out and find the roles that are going to change those minds."
That shouldn’t be a hard job, given McCormack’s jam-packed agenda. He recently co-starred in the independent film "The Sisters," for which he received a best actor award at Atlanta’s Dixie Film Festival, and he’s running a production company Big Cattle Productions, with partner Michael Forman.
The two have already sold a half-hour, improvisational comedy series, called "Lovespring International," to Lifetime Television in the U.S., and are shopping around several other projects. Next month, McCormack will share the stage with Eugene Levy as co-host of the Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto’s fifth annual "It’s Always Something" variety show, also starring the Radio City Rockettes, Sandra Shamas and the 2006 Canadian Idol, Eva Avila. Gilda’s Club is named for Gilda Radner of "SCTV" and "Saturday Night Live" fame. She died of cancer in 1989. McCormack, who is participating in the Nov. 20 show for the fourth time, says the issue strikes close to home.
"There’s way too much cancer in my family," he says.
In the New Year, McCormack is hoping to direct his feature film "What You Wish For," which he wrote four years ago. He also expects to make an appearance on Mullally’s new syndicated daytime talk program, "The Megan Mullally Show," and make a possible return to Stratford in 2008. And somehow, amid all these events, McCormack plans to move from L.A. to Vancouver with his family, which is building a second, bigger home in the city where they hope to settle down.
"It’s really only if you’re shooting a series in L.A. that you’re working every day that you have to live there," says McCormack.
"But if you’re just pursuing movie roles, if you’re writing, it’s not crucial that you’re there every day."