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Eric McCormack
A caucasian male with dark hair, wearing sunglasses on the top of his head, with a brown suede jacket, smiles.
McCormack in November 2008
Born Eric James McCormack
April 18, 1963 (1963-04-18) (age 46)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Occupation Actor, producer, writer
Years active 1986–present
Spouse(s) Janet Holden (1997–present)
Official website

Eric James McCormack (born April 18, 1963) is a Canadian-American actor, musician, writer and producer. Born in Toronto, he began his acting career performing in school plays at Stephen Leacock Collegiate Institute High School. He left Ryerson University in 1985, in order to accept a position with the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, where he spent five years performing in numerous play productions.

For much of the late 1990s, he lived in Los Angeles and had minor roles. He made his feature film debut in the 1992 science fiction The Lost World. McCormack appeared in multiple television series roles, including Top Cops, Street Justice, Lovesome Dove: The Series, Townies, and Ally McBeal. McCormack later gained worldwide recognition for playing Will Truman in the American sitcom Will & Grace, which premiered in September 1998. His performance earned him an Emmy Award in the category for Best Actor in a Comedy Series in 2001.

Aside from appearing in television, he made his Broadway debut in the 2001 production of The Music Man and starred in the 2005 film The Sisters. Following the series conclusion of Will & Grace in 2006, McCormack starred as the leading role in the New York production of Some Girl(s). He starred in the television mini-series The Andromeda Strain (2008) and returned to television in 2009 in the TNT drama Trust Me, which was cancelled after one season. Also in 2009, McCormack was cast in the science fiction movie Alien Trespass.

Contents

Early life

McCormack was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the son of Doris, a homemaker, and Keith McCormack, an oil company financial analyst.[1] He is the oldest of three siblings.[2] McCormack has Cherokee and Scottish ancestry.[3] McCormack admits while he was growing up, he was shy and did not play sports.[4] McCormack attended Stephen Leacock Collegiate Institute High School in Scarborough, Ontario. There, he enrolled in theatre and performed in high school productions of Godspell and Pippin,[5] and decided to pursue a career in acting. McCormack recalls after performing in Godspell, his feelings towards becoming an actor solidified. "...I remember after the first performance of that ... I knew where to fit in. That was the beginning of my life as an actor. It changed me in that the concept of any other options disappeared. From that moment there was no question. I knew exactly what I was going to do. I'm lucky that way."[1] He admits that he never felt cool growing up. "I was a bit of an outsider, but I discovered theatre very early on, which got me through."[6] He then transferred to Sir John A. Macdonald Collegiate Institute in Scarborough, where he went to school with David Furnish.[7] He graduated in 1982.[2]

McCormack enrolled at Ryerson University School of Theatre in Toronto to further improve his acting.[8] He left Ryerson in 1985, several months before graduating, in order to accept a position with the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario, where he spent five seasons performing. "It was all I wanted, to be a classical actor for the rest of my life, but during the last couple of years I was there, I started to realise that it wasn't for me. Perhaps I didn't have to give my Hamlet before I died, that the world might be an OK place without my Hamlet, in fact."[7] McCormack appeared in the productions A Midsummer Night's Dream, Henry V, Murder in the Cathedral and Three Sisters. McCormack later performed with the Manitoba Theatre Centre in a production of Burn This as well as with Toronto's Royal Alexandra Theatre in Biloxi Blues.[5]

Career

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Early work

McCormack made his Canadian television debut in the 1986 movie, The Boys from Syracuse.[5] McCormack moved to Los Angeles, California and made his US television debut in a 1991 episode of the CBS crime series Top Cops.[5] He appeared in the 1992 theatrical film The Lost World, based on Conan Doyle's novel of the same name and starred in The Lost World sequel, also released in 1992, Return to the Lost World.[5] By 1993, he landed a recurring role as a detective in the crime drama Street Justice.[2] Also in 1993, McCormack appeared in the television movie Double, Double, Toil and Trouble, playing Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's father.[9]

He played the role of Colonel Francis Clay Mosby in 42 episodes of the Western television series Lonesome Dove: The Series (1994) and Lonesome Dove: The Outlaw Years (1995).[2][8] McCormack commented that it was a "fantastic role".[7] In an interview with The Guardian in 2003, McCormack admitted to auditioning "two or three times" for the part of Ross Geller, which ultimately went to David Schwimmer, for the situation comedy Friends.[7] He was cast in the 1997 made-for-television movie, Borrowed Hearts, where he portrayed a selfish businessman who learns to love, and in the HBO film Exception to the Rule, in which he played a cheating husband.[7]

Also in 1997, he had minor roles in the comedy shows Townies, Veronica's Closet, and Ally McBeal.[5] Originally, McCormack was scheduled to appear as a series regular in the NBC sitcom Jenny, but was fired after the pilot due to the network cutting his character.[10]

Worldwide recognition

McCormack received his break-through role in 1998 when he was cast as lawyer Will Truman on NBC's sitcom Will & Grace, a series centered on a gay man (Will) and his Jewish best friend (Grace). McCormack said that when the part came along, he was convinced he was right for the role. "At the end of the audition, Max [Mutchnik, co-creator and executive producer of the show] said 'That was perfect. Just to let you know, you never have to be more gay than that.'"[7] He explained that when he first read the script, "what hit me immediately was that this was me. I mean, sexual orientation aside, Will was so much like me. He's a great host, he's relatively funny and he has great friends and he's a good friend to them ... the gay issue just wasn't really a big thing."[11] The show debuted on September 21, 1998 and was watched by almost 8.6 million American viewers.[12] Will and Grace quickly developed a loyal audience, with the show and McCormack receiving strong reviews. John Carman of the San Francisco Chronicle commented that McCormack and Messing worked "nicely" together.[13] Kay Mcfadden of The Seattle Times also praised McCormack, Messing and the supporting cast as "very funny".[14] For this performance, he earned three Emmy Award nominations,[15][16][17] and won one for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series in 2001.[18] In addition, he received five Golden Globe Award nominations.[19]

In this same year, McCormack appeared in Stephen Herek's comedy film Holy Man (1998).[20] The film was critically and financially unsuccessful.[21][22] The following year he starred in the comedy movie Free Enterprise (1999), a movie about two filmmakers (McCormack and Rafer Weigel) obsessed with actor William Shatner and Star Trek. Film critic Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times wrote that McCormack and Weigel "both make a strong impression".[23] In 2000, McCormack appeared in the ABC television movie The Audrey Hepburn Story, portraying actor Mel Ferrer.[24]

During the 2001 Broadway season, McCormack briefly portrayed Professor Harold Hill (replacing Craig Bierko) in the Susan Stroman revival of The Music Man at the Neil Simon Theatre.[25][26] Donna McKechnie of The New York Times was not impressed with McCormack's performance in the production. "...Broadway producers in the last 10 years have tended to hire actors who lack singing and dancing training, both of which Mr. McCormack has, as was abundantly evident in his performance as Harold Hill in The Music Man."[27] In August 2002, as part of the Hollywood Bowl's summer concert series, he reprised the role of Harold Hill for a one-night only appearance in which he and other actors re-created the songs from the production.[28] McCormack hosted the fourth episode of the 28th season of the sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live (SNL) on November 2, 2002.[29] In 2004, he had a recurring role as Ray Summers on Showtime's comedy drama Dead Like Me.[30] The following year, McCormack starred in the 2005 film The Sisters, based on Anton Chekhov's play Three Sisters.[31] The film premiered at the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival.[32]

Will & Grace's eighth and final season premiered on May 18, 2006. The finale garnered 18 million American viewers,[33] making it the most watched entertainment telecast in six years.[34]

Will & Grace and after

A caucasian male with dark hair wearing a blue shirt is facing to the left.
McCormack in 2006

Following the end of Will & Grace, McCormack starred on the New York stage opposite Fran Drescher, Judy Reyes, Brooke Smith, and Maura Tierney, in Neil LaBute's Off Broadway play Some Girl(s) at the Lucille Lortel Theatre.[35] In the production, he plays a writer who is ready to settle down and marry, but decides to visit four ex-girlfriends first. For his performance, McCormack received critical reviews. New York Times contributor Ben Brantley, in review of the production, wrote: "Playing a thoughtless, woman-despising heterosexual, Mr. McCormack isn't much different from when he was playing a thoughtful, woman-worshiping homosexual. As in Will & Grace, he italicizes every other line for maximum comic spin and punctuates his dialogue by earnestly furrowing his features."[35] Brantley went onto say that McCormack's interpretation of the character is "certainly a more slickly sustained performance" than the one delivered by David Schwimmer in 2005.[35] Melissa Rose Bernardo of Entertainment Weekly commented that McCormack and Maura Tierney "have incredible chemistry".[36]

Furthermore in the same year, he produced Lifetime's comedy, Lovespring International, a show that revolves around six employees at Lovespring International, a dating agency located in California as an "elite Beverly Hills" company.[37] The series debuted to ambivalent reviews,[38] with Matthew Gilbert of The Boston Globe commenting that Lovespring International is "a lively little cable exercise in over-the-top characters, bad taste, satire, and political incorrectness."[39] The show was cancelled that same year.[40]

In 2008, McCormack co-starred in A&E's television mini-series The Andromeda Strain, a remake of the 1971 movie which was based on the novel by Michael Crichton.[41] In the mini-series, he played Jack Nash, a television reporter, who battles an addiction to cocaine. The Andromeda Strain received mixed reception,[42] and his performance was not well received. Joanna Weiss of the Boston Globe wrote, "The presence of Eric McCormack, as an intrepid TV reporter, is especially extraneous (no disrespect to intrepid reporters)."[43] Robert Bianco of USA Today commented, "The central cast is completed by ... poor Eric McCormack as a crusading, coke-addicted journalist who spends the second half of the movie playing Rambo in the desert. Let's just say McCormack does the best he can with what he's given, and leave it at that."[44] On September 5, 2008, McCormack made a guest appearance in the seventh season and 100th episode of the television series Monk, where he played an unctuous host of a television crime docudrama.[45][46]

A caucasian male with dark hair wearing a grey shirt is facing to the right. A microphone is in front of him.
McCormack at San Diego Comic-Con International in 2009

In January 2009, McCormack returned to television in the TNT drama Trust Me, co-starring Tom Cavanagh. The series, set around a fictional advertising firm, starred McCormack as Mason McGuire, the firm's newly promoted Creative Director, and deals with his best friend's (Cavanagh) unpredictable behavior.[47] In an interview with USA Weekend, McCormack revealed he was not afraid of being typecast.[48] McCormack's decision to do the show was due to "great writing".[49] The show debuted on January 26, 2009 and was watched by almost 3.4 million viewers.[50] Trust Me debuted to very positive reviews, with Tim Goodman of the San Francisco Chronicle writing, "...the series is surprisingly solid."[51] Mary McNamara of the Los Angeles Times wrote that McCormack and Cavanagh "manage to keep their characters sharply defined but low-key. They are opposites but not in an ash-smudged, Windex-wielding Felix and Oscar way."[52] The series, however, was cancelled after one season, due to poor ratings.[53][54]

McCormack starred in the science-fiction film Alien Trespass (2009), in which he played Doctor Ted Lewis who gets possessed by an alien marshal, Urp, after he crash-lands on Earth.[55] When asked about his interpretation on the character, McCormack commented that his first instinct was to make Ted Lewis more alien, sounding like Spock.[55] The film was critically and financially unsuccessful.[56][57]

In May 2009, he portrayed "El Gallo" in Reprise Theatre Company's revival of the 1960s musical The Fantasticks at UCLA's Freud Playhouse.[58][59] McCormack had a supporting role in Richard Loncraine's comedy My One and Only,[60][61] released in August 2009.

On September 30, 2009, he guest starred on the police procedural drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in the second episode of its 11th season playing an owner of a dating website.[62] In addition, McCormack will have a recurring role in season five of the comedy series The New Adventures of Old Christine. McCormack will play a therapist and love interest for Christine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus).[63]

McCormack portrayed con artist Clark Rockefeller in the Lifetime television movie Who is Clark Rockefeller?, that premiered on March 13, 2010.[64] To prepare for the role, he read everything on the case,[65] including coverage of the case and Rockefeller's jailhouse interview.[66] Who is Clark Rockefeller? received mixed reaction,[67] but McCormack's performance was favored by critics, with Variety's Brian Lowry concluding, "...the real kitsch factor resides in Eric McCormack's performance as the suave charmer, which adds an element of high camp to the proceedings."[68]

Other projects

McCormack has set up his own production company called Big Cattle Productions to develop ideas for television.[10] The television projects produced by the company include Lovespring International and Imperfect Union,[69][70] in the latter which McCormack served as executive producer for both. In 2003, it was confirmed that he would write, direct, and star in the romantic comedy What You Wish For.[71][72]

McCormack recorded a song, "The Greatest Discovery", which was written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin in 1970, for the album Unexpected Dreams: Songs from the Stars.[73] He also wrote and sang a song called "Living with Grace" for the 2004 soundtrack to Will & Grace with piano music provided by Barry Manilow.[74]

Personal life

McCormack has been married to Janet Leigh Holden, whom he met in the set of Lonesome Dove,[7] since August 1997.[75] They have a son, Finnigan Holden McCormack, born on July 1, 2002 in Los Angeles.[76] McCormack maintains residences in Los Angeles and Vancouver.[77] He became a US citizen in 1999 and holds dual Canadian and US citizenship.[78]

McCormack is involved in many Los Angeles and Canadian-based charitable organizations including Project Angel Food.[79] The Wellness Community West Los Angeles Tribute to the Human Spirit Awards dinner presented an award to McCormack for his breast cancer awareness advocacy. He shared with the audience how his comedy helped his mother, Doris McCormack, endure her breast cancer treatments.[80] Doris was honored at the Lifetime's Breast Cancer Heroes Luncheon in 2004.[81][82] He serves as an honorary board member of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) and was given the MMRF Spirit of Hope Award in October 2006.[83]

McCormack sang both the American and Canadian national anthems at the 2004 NHL All Star game in Minnesota.[84] McCormack is a supporter of same-sex marriage and attended a march in Fresno, California on May 30, 2009, after the Supreme Court of California upheld a ban on same-sex marriage approved by voters in November by the ballot proposition Proposition 8.[85][86]

Filmography

Feature films

Year Film Role Notes
1992 The Lost World Edward Malone
Return to the Lost World Edward Malone
Giant Steps Jack Sims
1997 Exception to the Rule Timothy Bayer
1998 Holy Man Scott Hawkes
1999 Free Enterprise Mark
2000 Here's to Life! Owen Rinard
2005 Break a Leg Dark Haired Actor
The Sisters Gary Sokol
2008 Immigrants Vlad
2009 Best Thing Ever Dean
Alien Trespass Ted Lewis/Urp
My One and Only Charlie

Television

Year Title Role Notes
1986 The Boys from Syracuse Tailor's Apprentice
1979 Hangin' In Jody
1990 Katts and Dog David Baxter
1991 E.N.G.
Street Legal Barry Taylor
1992 Neon Rider Derek
Street Justice Det. Eric Rothman
1993 Relentless: Mind of a Killer Stu Feltzer
Family of Strangers Sam
Miracle on Interstate 880 Tony
The Commish Officer Danny Nolan
Call of the Wild Hal
Double, Double, Toil and Trouble Don Farmer
Silk Stalkings Michael O'Hara
1994 The Man Who Wouldn't Die Jack Sullivan
1995 Lonesome Dove: The Series Col. Francis Clay Mosby
1996 Highlander: The Series Matthew McCormick
Diagnosis Murder Boyd Merrick
Townies Scott
1997 The Outer Limits John Virgil
Jenny Jason Slade
Borrowed Hearts Sam Field
Veronica's Closet Griffin
1998 Ally McBeal
A Will of their Own Pierce Peterson
1998–2006 Will & Grace Will Truman
2000 The Audrey Hepburn Story Mel Ferrer
2004 Dead Like Me Ray Summers
2006 Lovespring International Roman
2008 The Andromeda Strain Jack Nash
Monk James Novak Episode: "Mr. Monk's 100th Case"
2009 Trust Me Mason McGuire
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Vance Shepard Episode: "Sugar"
The New Adventures of Old Christine Max Kershaw Episode: "Doctor Little Man"
Episode: "Nuts"
Episode: "Whale of a Tale"
Episode: "Truth or Dare"
2010 Who is Clark Rockefeller? Clark Rockefeller

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Series Result
2000 Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Will & Grace Nominated
Golden Globe Award Best Actor in a Television Series Musical or Comedy Will & Grace Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Actor in a Television Series Musical or Comedy Will & Grace Nominated
Viewers For Quality Television Awards Best Actor in a Quality Comedy Series Will & Grace Nominated
2001 Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Will & Grace Won
Golden Globe Award Best Actor in a Television Series Musical or Comedy Will & Grace Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Award Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Will & Grace Won
Teen Choice Award Television Choice Actor Will & Grace Nominated
2002 Golden Globe Award Best Actor in a Television Series Musical or Comedy Will & Grace Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Performance by an Actor in a Series, Comedy or Musical Will & Grace Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Will & Grace Nominated
2003 Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Will & Grace Nominated
Golden Globe Award Best Actor in a Television Series Musical or Comedy Will & Grace Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Performance by an Actor in a Series, Comedy or Musical Will & Grace Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Will & Grace Nominated
2004 Golden Globe Award Best Actor in a Television Series Musical or Comedy Will & Grace Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Performance by an Actor in a Series, Comedy or Musical Will & Grace Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Will & Grace Nominated
2005 Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Will & Grace Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Will & Grace Nominated
(Source: IMDb.com)

References

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