McCormack's Stratford stint ended in 1989, when the legendary English director and actor John Neville informed McCormack that he wasn't invited to return. "He said, 'I didn't really like what you did in "A Midsummer Night's Dream," ' " McCormack says in Neville's aristocratic accent. " 'I find it very modern. Have you ever thought of doing situation comedy?'
"He said it in a way, like it was demeaning. He was saying, 'Perhaps you should go into that horrible American television.' And I thought, 'He's right.' I realized that slowly but surely, the other side of me was emerging, the funny side, the modern side that loves Woody Allen and Albert Brooks, the funny Jewish guy. I always say, 'I'm not a Jew, but I'm Jewish.' "
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday, May 06, 2009 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 National Desk 1 inches; 28 words Type of Material: Correction
Eric McCormack: An article in Monday's Calendar about actor Eric McCormack misspelled the last name of his costar in the TNT series "Trust Me," Tom Cavanagh, as Kavanaugh.
McCormack's flair for comedy is well known, but he actually went on to an eclectic career in television and film, playing the ruthless power broker Col. Francis Clay Mosby in "Lonesome Dove: The Series" and "The Outlaw Years" during the mid-'90s, an adventurous reporter in the "Lost World" films and supernatural beings and scientists in various sci-fi projects, including "The Outer Limits" and the A&E miniseries "The Andromeda Strain" as well as the recent movie spoof "Alien Trespass," in which he doubled as a scientist and an alien named Urp. He recently shot a half-hour comedy pilot for ABC and "Scrubs" executive producer Tad Quill. It's a buddy show, with McCormack playing a heart surgeon and new dad opposite Reno Wilson as a contractor and empty nester.
"The basic truth about my post-Will plan is that there isn't one," McCormack says. "I'm kind of all over the map. I like to think of myself as versatile. I certainly need to push myself to stay interested."
During his Emmy- and Screen Actors Guild award-winning run as Will from 1998 to 2006, McCormack wasn't sure he'd get the chance to stretch. He would fret about typecasting and F. Scott Fitzgerald's famous remark that there were no second acts in American life. "That used to haunt me throughout 'Will & Grace.' I thought, is that true? What if I don't get a second act?"
These days, second acts in life and onstage are what interest him. "I don't need to see another production of 'Romeo and Juliet' in any form," he says. "I don't really care about 14-year-olds in love. I'm more interested in watching how people survive marriage, how they survive middle age, how they survive the disappointments and the choices that have led them to where they are. 'The Fantasticks' has that too, the idea in the opening song ["Try to Remember"] that in September you'll learn that without going through some pain, there's no gain."
For McCormack, that journey has involved growing into the role of the hero, a part he had always avoided.
"I needed to have my experience as Will to come out the other side so I could say, 'OK, I'm getting more comfortable in that role,' " he says. "Maybe it's my age, being a father. Whatever it is, I do feel that I could be a protector now. I could be a fighter. El Gallo has a certain machismo that I was uncomfortable with before, but I'm becoming more comfortable with myself as a grown-up."
Where: Freud Playhouse, UCLA campus, Westwood
When: 8 p.m. Tuesdays- Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2 and 7 p.m. Sundays
Contact: (310) 825-2101