Sean Hayes: 'Will & Grace' Cast Got Death Threats, Even from Fans

Exploring Sean Hayes' unique experiences on 'Will & Grace'

by Zain ul Abedin
Sean Hayes: 'Will & Grace' Cast Got Death Threats, Even from Fans
© Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Sean Hayes, the Emmy-winning actor from "Will & Grace," recently shared some troubling experiences from his time on the iconic sitcom. Speaking on the "SmartLess" podcast hosted by Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, and featuring guest Trevor Noah, Hayes revealed that the cast faced intense backlash at the outset of the show, including receiving death threats.

Launched in 1998 on NBC, "Will & Grace" was groundbreaking in its portrayal of gay main characters. Hayes played the flamboyant Jack McFarland alongside Eric McCormack's character, Will Truman. Despite its comedic approach and popularity, the show, which also starred Debra Messing and Megan Mullally, occasionally sparked controversy and extreme reactions from some viewers.

Hayes recalled a particularly bizarre piece of hate mail that underscored the mixed emotions the show could evoke. "This woman went through the effort to write us a letter," Hayes explained. "She condemned us, saying we were all going to hell and should be ashamed, but then confessed her love for the show despite her disapproval of its themes."

Hayes on Fan Backlash

The conversation took a lighter turn as co-hosts Bateman and Arnett joked about the absurdity of the situation, highlighting the surreal aspect of receiving such contradictory messages from fans.

This isn't the first time Hayes has spoken about the challenges faced during the series' original run, which lasted until 2006 before being revived in 2017. In a previous interview with The Guardian, Hayes mentioned the personal and professional fears he grappled with due to the public's reaction to his portrayal of a gay character.

Reflecting on his journey, Hayes noted the personal growth and insights gained over the years. "Looking back, I realize that coming out publicly and embracing my character fully could have had a more positive impact sooner.

It's a lesson in being fearless," he shared. "Will & Grace," known for pushing boundaries and sparking conversations about LGBTQ+ issues, continues to be relevant, with its original and revival episodes available for streaming on platforms like Peacock and Hulu. The series' blend of humor and social commentary remains a testament to its enduring legacy in American television.