Will & Grace: Why we can thank Donald Trump for the comedy's return
Debra Messing does not hesitate when asked if she ever imagined a scenario in which her beloved sitcom Will & Grace, which ran from 1998 to 2006, would return.
"Never, never, never in a zillion years," she declares with a laugh.
"We thought that maybe it would be 25 years later because I always said we can't do anything until we are in our 70s and then we can do the geriatric Will & Grace, like the Golden Girls. But last year we came together for that little skit and it all just clicked again and we knew we had more stories to tell."
The 49-year-old actress acknowledges the irony that the catalyst for their unexpected revival was Donald Trump's run for President.
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Last November, Will & Grace creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan asked the four actors – Debra Messing, Eric McCormack, Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally – to reunite for a surprise nine-minute short film posted on YouTube to encourage people to get out to vote.
In the scene, viewed by more than seven million people, Karen reveals she is a Trump supporter and the four friends argue over not only who to vote for, but whether to vote at all.
"Just doing that, made us realise there is a magical synergy between the four of us that is still there," Messing reminisces. "The writing was so smart and funny and relevant, I think that gave us all the confidence to say, 'OK, will this work in everyone's lives? And if it does, by all means let's dive into it again'."
The ninth season returns in current times, although a flash-forward at the end of the original series which gave glimpses into the future for all the characters will not be incorporated, including Will and Grace being estranged and both married and parents.
"In the very first scene we address how the series ended," she reveals. "And what you will learn is that Will and Grace are single and that we don't have children and that we are living together once again, in the same apartment – but the same apartment has had a little refurbishing done because Grace is in a different place in her life, so you'll see a few very special pieces that have been added."
That said, Messing promises fans will still get that same old feeling.
"We have grown, we have changed, our careers are in a different place, our romantic lives are in a different place but we are still fundamentally the same people and our relationships to one another are the same," she insists.
Although Messing has starred in two other TV series – Smash (2012-13) and The Mysteries Of Laura (2014-16) – she confesses to being initially nervous about returning to her larger-than-life Emmy-winning comedic character.
"It was exhilarating and terrifying at the same time," she says.
"I grew up on I Love Lucy and Carol Burnett and great physical comedians and I've missed it desperately from the landscape of TV for many years. To have the opportunity to step back into that, it's the greatest thrill to be able to fall down and trip up all over again."
Seeing the four actors together again on posters and promos has created huge excitement, not just for fans but for the actors too.
"When we all came together and read, it felt like coming home and we laughed so hard," says Messing, who shares custody of her 12-year-old son Roman after finalising her divorce last year from Damages writer Daniel Zelman.
"I will say it's been a confusing time and I haven't laughed very much. So, to come back together and laugh out loud and be surprised by one another and have new stories to tell and the opportunity to do it, that was a beautiful crazy thing to happen."
Will & Grace, TVNZ 2, returns Monday October 2. (TVNZ 2 will also screen season one of Will & Grace on Saturday September 30)
- TV Guide