Jack of Will & Grace
''When I came out of my mom's womb, I had 'sitcom' stamped on my forehead.'' Sean Hayes
Launching his professional career in Chicago as the musical director at the Pheasant Run Theater, Sean Hayes received critical acclaim for his Emmy-winning performance as Jack McFarland, Will's best friend, in the popular NBC sitcom "Will & Grace" (1998-2006).
He has also guest starred in the TV series "Silk Stalkings," "Scrubs" and "30 Rock" and has appeared in the films "Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss" (1998), "Cats & Dogs" (2001; voice), "Pieces of April" (2003), "The Cat in the Hat" (2003), "Win a Date with Tad Hamilton," (2004) and the newly-released "The Bucket List" (2007), in which he plays Nicholson’s right-hand man Thomas. Next, he will provide his voice, alongside John Cusack, for the upcoming computer animated comedy film "Igor."
''When you see me play Jack, I want you to believe that that's a gay character. After 'Will & Grace' is over, when I play a straight character, I want you to believe that too.'' Sean Hayes
More personally, the 5' 11'' boyishly handsome comic actor and trained classical pianist refuses to discuss his own sexual orientation in public, insisting ''If you see a movie and I'm in it and the first thing you think of is who I'm sleeping with, then you're not watching the performance; you're watching the personality.''
Trained Classical Pianist
Childhood and Family:
In Chicago, Illinois, Sean Patrick Hayes was born on June 26, 1970, to Ronald Hayes, a lithographer and alcoholic who would often abandon the family, and Mary Hayes, a food bank worker. The youngest child of the family, Sean has four older siblings: Tracey Hayes (police officer; born in 1967), Michael Hayes (graphic designer; born in 1965), Kevin Hayes (salesman; born in 1964), and Dennis Hayes (warehouse manager; born in 1963).
"I think I stayed with piano partly out of guilt over how much time and my mom's money I had already spent." Sean Hayes
After graduating from Glenbard West High School in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, Sean, who began studying music as a child, received a music scholarship to Illinois State University. While there, Hayes supported himself as a classical pianist and performed in a pop band called ''Sounds from the Stairs'' for five years. He also ventured into acting and performed in several student productions, including "Burn This" and "Love for Love."
"Coincidentally, they [Illinois State University] also have one of the greatest theater departments in the country. So I studied music, but always ended up stopping by to see those funny theater people while I was walking to class. I was a groupie because I was afraid to cross over and admit to myself that I enjoyed acting."
Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss
Hailing from Chicago, Sean Hayes kicked off his professional career as the musical director at the Pheasant Run Theater in St. Charles, Illinois. He also appeared in a number of productions, including the original production of "Role Play" at the Organic Theatre, and composed original music for a production of “Antigone” at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago.
Meanwhile, Hayes, who as a teenager was an extra in Winona Ryder's first movie, ''Lucas'' (1986), which was filmed at his high school, began receiving roles for television and was seen in the series "Missing Persons," "Silk Stalkings" and "Tough Target." He also began appearing in films, starting with the short film ''A & P'' (1996), a 17-minute adaptation of J. Updike's short story of the same name.
A former member of the famed Second City improvisational comedy troupe, Hayes also had gigs as a stand-up comic and performed at The Comedy Club in Los Angeles. He eventually landed his professional film debut in writer/director Tommy O'Haver's independent romantic comedy film ''Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss'' (1998). In the film that received a favorable reception at Sundance, he portrayed the title role of a gay fine-arts photographer who falls in love with a straight coffee-shop waiter (played by Brad Rowe).
Hayes' performance in the film attracted the attention of ''Will & Grace'' executives who cast him as struggling gay actor Jack McFarland in the popular Emmy-winning NBC sitcom, opposite Eric McCormack and Debra Messing. He stayed on the show until its finale in May 2006 and garnered rave reviews for his outstanding performance. He won numerous awards, most notably an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (2000) and three Screen Actor Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series (2002, 2003, 2006).
Following the show's enthusiastic response, Hayes went on to do more TV work. He could be seen in Doritos, Pepsi, Geico Direct, Bud Lite beer, 1-800-COLLECT, and The More You Know Campaign commercials and appeared in Robert Townsend's TV movie ''Jackie's Back,'' (1999; starring Jenifer Lewis) and was spotted as a guest in the NBC Emmy and Peabody Award winning sitcom "Scrubs," as well as was credited as himself while guest starring in “The Roseanne Show," "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," "Saturday Night Live," "HBO First Look," "The Daily Show," "The Rosie O'Donnell Show," "Extra," "Mad TV," "Live with Regis and Kathie Lee," "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," "The View," "Today," "Late Show with David Letterman" and "Ellen: The Ellen DeGeneres Show."
He was also cast as Jerry Lewis, opposite Jeremy Northam's Dean Martin, in the TV biopic about the 10-year rocky relationship between the popular team of comedians, "Martin and Lewis" (2002), for which he received a Screen Actors Guild nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries.
As for his film work, Hayes voiced Mr. Tinkles, a feline out to take over the world, in Lawrence Guterman's animated comedy feature "Cats & Dogs" (2001) and did voice work in the film adaptation of the beloved literary classic "Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat" (2003; alongside Mike Myers). He also played a repressed, uptight New Yorker who tangles with his neighbor (played by Katie Holmes) in writer/director Peter Hedges' comedy film "Pieces of April" (2003; also starring Patricia Clarkson) and played Josh Duhamel's manager in Robert Luketic's romantic comedy film "Win a Date with Tad Hamilton" (2004), which also stars Kate Bosworth and Topher Grace. Additionally, alongside Todd Milliner, he executive produced the unscripted Bravo series "Situation: Comedy" (2005).
After ''Will & Grace'' ended in 2006, Hayes guest starred in Cartoon Network/Adult Swim's animated sitcom "Tom Goes to the Mayor," Lifetime’s improvisational comedy show "Lovespring International," the Oxygen sitcom "Campus Ladies" and NBC’s Emmy-winning sitcom "30 Rock." He also appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," "The Megan Mullally Show" and "Jimmy Kimmel Live!"
More recently, moviegoers saw Hayes co-starring with Hollywood heavyweights Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman in the Rob Reiner directed adventure/drama/comedy film "The Bucket List" (2007), playing Nicholson’s right-hand man Thomas. He revealed, "At the beginning, it's always [that] you’re a little leery about acting with icons, as anyone would be, but [Nicholson] he was very open to suggestions and so it became very easy. It became kind of an unspoken thing. I’d kind of toss out an idea and he would back, and it worked very nicely."
Hayes will soon complete his upcoming computer animated comedy film project titled ''Igor,'' in which he will provide his voice alongside John Cusack, Steve Buscemi, Jay Leno and John Cleese.
Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series, ''Will & Grace,'' 2006
Teen Choice: Choice TV Sidekick, ''Will & Grace,'' 2004
Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series, ''Will & Grace,'' 2003
Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series, "Will & Grace," 2002
Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series, ''Will & Grace,'' 2001
Teen Choice: Choice TV Sidekick, ''Will & Grace,'' 2001
American Comedy: Funniest Supporting Male Performer in a TV Series, ''Will & Grace,'' 2001
TV Guide: Supporting Actor of the Year in a Comedy Series, ''Will & Grace,'' 2001
Emmy: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, ''Will & Grace,'' 2000
Teen Choice: Choice TV Sidekick, ''Will & Grace,'' 2000