McCormack at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival premiere of Knife Fight
April 18, 1963 |
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
|Occupation||Actor, producer, writer|
|Spouse(s)||Janet Holden (1997–present)|
Eric James McCormack (born April 18, 1963) is a Canadian/American actor, musician, and writer. Born in Toronto, he began his acting career performing in high school plays. He left Ryerson University in 1985 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 adventure film The Lost World. McCormack appeared in multiple television series, including Top Cops, Street Justice, Lonesome 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 a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead 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. In addition, he starred as Dr. Daniel Pierce for three seasons of the TNT crime drama Perception, and provides the voice of "Lucky" on The Hub's Pound Puppies series.
McCormack was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the son of Doris, a homemaker, and Keith McCormack, an oil company financial analyst. He is the oldest of three siblings. McCormack has Cherokee and Scottish ancestry. McCormack states while he was growing up, he was shy and did not play sports. 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, 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." 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." He then transferred to Sir John A. Macdonald Collegiate Institute in Scarborough, where he went to school with David Furnish. He graduated in 1982.
McCormack enrolled at Ryerson University School of Theatre in Toronto to further improve his acting. 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." 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.
McCormack made his Canadian television debut in the 1986 movie The Boys from Syracuse. McCormack moved to Los Angeles, California, and made his US television debut in a 1991 episode of the CBS crime series Top Cops. 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, Return to the Lost World, also released in 1992. By 1993, he landed a recurring role as a detective in the crime drama Street Justice. Also in 1993, McCormack appeared in the television movie Double, Double, Toil and Trouble, playing Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's father.
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). McCormack commented that it was a "fantastic role". 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. In 1995, he appeared in the television film The Man Who Wouldn't Die. 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.
Also in 1997, he had minor roles in the comedy shows Townies, Veronica's Closet, and Ally McBeal. 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.
Will & Grace
McCormack received his break-through role in 1998 when he was cast as lawyer Will Truman on the NBC 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.'" 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." The show debuted on September 21, 1998 and was watched by almost 8.6 million American viewers. 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 Debra Messing worked "nicely" together. Kay McFadden of The Seattle Times also praised McCormack, Messing and the supporting cast as "very funny". For this performance, he earned four Emmy Award nominations (2000, 2001, 2003, 2005), one of which resulted in a win (2001), for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. In addition, he received five Golden Globe Award nominations.
Also in 1998, McCormack appeared in Stephen Herek's comedy film Holy Man. The film was critically and financially unsuccessful. 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". In 2000, McCormack appeared in the ABC television movie The Audrey Hepburn Story, portraying actor Mel Ferrer.
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. 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. McCormack hosted the fourth episode of the 28th season of the sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live (SNL) on November 2, 2002. In 2004, he had a recurring role as Ray Summers on Showtime's comedy drama Dead Like Me. The following year, McCormack starred in the 2005 film The Sisters, based on Anton Chekhov's play Three Sisters. The film premiered at the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival.
Will & Grace's eighth and final season ended with the series finale on May 18, 2006. The finale garnered 18 million American viewers, making it the most watched entertainment telecast in six years.
After Will & Grace
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. 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". 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. Melissa Rose Bernardo of Entertainment Weekly commented that McCormack and Maura Tierney "have incredible chemistry".
In the same year, McCormack produced the Lifetime 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. The series debuted to ambivalent reviews, 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." The show was cancelled that same year.
In 2008, McCormack co-starred in the A&E television mini-series The Andromeda Strain, a remake of the 1971 movie based on the novel by Michael Crichton. In the mini-series, he played Jack Nash, a television reporter, who battles an addiction to cocaine. The Andromeda Strain received mixed reviews, and McCormack's performance was criticized. 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)." 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." 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.
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. In an interview with USA Weekend, McCormack revealed he was not afraid of being typecast. McCormack's decision to do the show was due to "great writing". The show debuted on January 26, 2009, and was watched by almost 3.4 million viewers. Trust Me debuted to very positive reviews, with Tim Goodman of the San Francisco Chronicle writing, "...the series is surprisingly solid." 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." The series, however, was cancelled after one season, due to poor ratings.
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. When asked about his interpretation on the character, McCormack commented that his first instinct was to make Ted Lewis more alien, sounding like Spock. The film was critically and financially unsuccessful.
In May 2009, he portrayed "El Gallo" in Reprise Theatre Company's revival of the 1960s musical The Fantasticks at UCLA's Freud Playhouse. McCormack had a supporting role in Richard Loncraine's comedy My One and Only, which was 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. In addition, McCormack had a recurring role in season five of the comedy series The New Adventures of Old Christine, in which he played a therapist and love interest for Julia Louis-Dreyfus's character, Christine.
McCormack portrayed con artist Clark Rockefeller in the Lifetime television movie Who Is Clark Rockefeller?, which premiered on March 13, 2010. To prepare for the role, he read everything on the case, including coverage of the case and Rockefeller's jailhouse interview. Who Is Clark Rockefeller? received mixed reaction, 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."
In October 2010, it was reported that McCormack would star in a new TNT television drama, Perception, playing a crime-solving neuroscientist named Dr. Daniel Pierce, who works with the federal government to solve cases using his knowledge and imaginative view of the world. Perception premiered on July 9, 2012. McCormack also serves as producer for the show. He also provides the voice of "Lucky" on The Hub's Pound Puppies series, which premiered October 10, 2010
McCormack has set up his own production company called Big Cattle Productions to develop ideas for television. The television projects produced by the company include Lovespring International and Imperfect Union. In 2003, it was confirmed that he would write, direct, and star in the romantic comedy What You Wish For.
McCormack recorded a song, "The Greatest Discovery", which was written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin in 1970, for the 2006 album Unexpected Dreams – Songs From the Stars. 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.
McCormack has been married to Janet Leigh Holden, whom he met on the set of Lonesome Dove, since August 1997. They have a son, Finnigan Holden McCormack, born on July 1, 2002 in Los Angeles. McCormack maintains residences in Los Angeles and Vancouver. He became a US citizen in 1999 and holds dual Canadian and US citizenship.
McCormack is involved in many Los Angeles and Canadian-based charitable organizations including Project Angel Food. 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. Doris was honored at the Lifetime's Breast Cancer Heroes Luncheon in 2004. 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.
McCormack sang both the American and Canadian national anthems at the 2004 NHL All Star game in Minnesota. 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 ballot Proposition 8.
|1986||The Boys from Syracuse||Tailor's Apprentice||Television movie|
|1987||Much Ado About Nothing||Balthasar||Television movie|
|1992||The Lost World||Edward Malone|
|1992||Return to the Lost World||Edward Malone|
|1992||Giant Steps||Jack Sims|
|1993||Relentless: Mind of a Killer||Stu Feltzer||Television movie|
|1993||Family of Strangers||Sam||Television movie|
|1993||Miracle on Interstate 880||Tony||Television movie|
|1993||Call of the Wild||Hal||Television movie|
|1993||Double, Double, Toil and Trouble||Don Farmer||Television movie|
|1994||The Man Who Wouldn't Die||Jack Sullivan||Television movie|
|1994||Island City||Greg 23||Television movie|
|1997||Exception to the Rule||Timothy Bayer|
|1997||Borrowed Hearts||Sam Field||Television movie|
|1998||Holy Man||Scott Hawkes|
|1998||A Will of their Own||Pierce Peterson||Television movie|
|2000||Here's to Life!||Owen Rinard||Nominated—Leo Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama|
|2000||The Audrey Hepburn Story||Mel Ferrer||Television movie|
|2005||Break a Leg||Dark Haired Actor|
|2005||The Sisters||Gary Sokol|
|2009||Best Thing Ever||Dean|
|2009||Alien Trespass||Ted Lewis/Urp|
|2009||My One and Only||Charlie|
|2010||Who Is Clark Rockefeller?||Clark Rockefeller||Television movie|
|2012||Knife Fight||Larry Becker|
|2013||Romali Series||Rufus, Erskine I and the Principal|
|1987||Hangin' In||Jody||Episode: "Li'l Devil"|
|1991||Street Legal||Barry Taylor||2 episodes|
|1992||Neon Rider||Derek||Episode: "A Perfect 10"|
|1992||Street Justice||Det. Eric Rothman||Episode: "Each One, Teach One"|
|1993||Cobra||Blake Devaroe||Episode: "I'd Die for You"|
|1993||The Commish||Officer Danny Nolan||2 episodes|
|1993||Silk Stalkings||Michael O'Hara||Episode: "Ladies Night Out"|
|1995||Lonesome Dove: The Series||Col. Francis Clay Mosby||43 episodes|
|1996||Highlander: The Series||Matthew McCormick||Episode: "Manhunt"|
|1996||Diagnosis: Murder||Boyd Merrick||Episode: "An Explosive Murder"|
|1997||The Outer Limits||John Virgil||Episode: "Tempests"|
|1997||Jenny||Jason Slade||Episode: "Pilot"|
|1997||Veronica's Closet||Griffin||Episode: "Veronica's Brotherly Love"|
|1998||Ally McBeal||Kevin Kepler||Episode: "Being There"|
|1998–2006||Will & Grace||Will Truman||194 episodes
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy (2000–04)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (2000, 2003, 2005)
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy (2000, 2002–04)
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (2002–05)
Nominated—Viewers for Quality Television Award for Best Actor in a Quality Comedy Series
|2004||Dead Like Me||Ray Summers||3 episodes|
|2006||Lovespring International||Roman||Episode: "Lydia's Perfect Man"|
|2008||The Andromeda Strain||Jack Nash||4 episodes|
|2008||Monk||James Novak||Episode: "Mr. Monk's 100th Case"|
|2009||Trust Me||Mason McGuire||13 episodes|
|2009||Law & Order: Special Victims Unit||Vance Shepard||Episode: "Sugar"|
|2009||The New Adventures of Old Christine||Max Kershaw||6 episodes|
|2010–2013||Pound Puppies||Lucky (voice)||65 episodes|
|2012–present||Perception||Dr. Daniel Pierce||34 episodes|
|2012||American Dad!||Swinger||Episode: "Killer Vacation"|
|2013||Robot Chicken||Various||Episode: "Robot Fight Accident"|
|2015||The Mysteries of Laura||Andrew Devlin, M.D.||Episode: "The Mystery of the Exsanguinated Ex"
Awards and nominations