The final episode of Will & Grace aired in 2006. What is it like to reunite on a show after more than 10 years?
Truth be told, I was retired and they dusted me off and brought me back just for this! I was the department head and did Megan Mullally, Sean Hayes and Eric McCormack
so it’s really great to be back and see my friends again. We’ve got over half the crew back. Director, James Burrows is back and most of our writers are back. We have a few new, young writers that add a lot of spice to the scripts. Everybody is thrilled to be on board. Between the writing team and acting team, they were born to do this show. They’ve all gone on to do other amazing things, but if you circle back around, Will & Grace is still their greatest accomplishment. For us, as well — the makeup and hair team. When you’re working on a project that is so strong, you up your game. You do it with passion. Everybody encourages you to do better and be better. And you want to be better.
Have there been any changes to the makeup and hair team for the revival?
Karen Kawahara who used to do Debra Messing is on Veep, so we have the fabulous Julie Hewett now. Luke O’Connor and Tim Burke are back for hair. Renee Vaca has joined them. She is a wigmaster and she’s really great. Farah Bunch is back, so you have Mama Bunch and Baby Bunch.
When did Farah join the show?
Farah came in on our second season of Will & Grace and it was cast-chosen. She was doing a sitcom next door to us and she would come over and visit. At that time, we needed an extra person. The cast and Tim Burke suggested we get Farah. We had already all become so tight, they didn’t want strangers in there. We were already a family. Creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan already knew her — I’ve known them 25 to 30 years, so they’ve known Farah forever. It was a perfect match for us.
What changes in makeup are being made, given new camera technology, and how are you keeping the makeup true to each character?
We have to try and make them look as young as possible. There’s a few tricks up our sleeves. I’m now using dimensional makeup application. I use about four to six foundation colors on the face to recreate and highlight/shadow to make them look more youthful. Because of overhead lights and with the new lens technology, you have to be careful. You cannot do heavy makeup but you can blend colors in a dimensional way with highlighting, redeveloping the face, doing a complete corrective makeup. I’m glad I have the education I have, and I’m glad I know how to do all types of makeup from character to age makeup. In a very minor way, this is like a character makeup because it’s more of a design.
What can we expect to see in terms of makeup for Debra Messing’s “Grace” and Megan Mullally’s “Karen”?
They wanted everything the same. Especially Karen, since she’s supposed to have woken up from a dead sleep and look exactly the same!
What are some key products you’ve been using to evolve the look?
We’re using a combination of many things. I apply Dior Airflash foundation on Megan in five different colors. I use IT Cosmetics and theBalm highlighters. I love the MAKE UP FOR EVER eyshadows because they stay on so well. It’s all about staying on because this cast wants to get in makeup and they don’t want to see your face again.
What on-set makeup tricks do you use to groom Eric McCormack’s “Will” and Sean Hayes’ “Jack”?
Again, it’s a lot of corrective. The boys look great. Eric is as handsome as ever, even more distinguished. He will continue to be gorgeous until the day he dies. Sean Hayes also looks amazing. He’s been working out. So it plays well for the script.
For being semi-retired, you’re very busy. What is your Will & Grace schedule like?
Will & Grace is a full-time job. Usually after we finish taping a show, we move on to the next. Right now it’s been a lot of press. It’s one of NBC’s biggest shows ever so they’re putting a lot of energy and press into it — especially with the reboot, there’s a lot of focus on the show. It’s very busy. I normally carry two shows at a time but I’m only doing this one. There’s always something. Today, we have Harry Connick Jr. on — yes, he’s back! Afterward, we’re shooting segments for his talk show. Then we have interviews with the cast for a special they’re shooting for NBC on Will & Grace.
What can we expect to see from the revival?
They are all so good at what they do. They are electric. You put them individually and they are Sean Hayes, Megan Mullally, Eric McCormack and Debra Messing. You put them together and they are a dynamic foursome that just bounce off of each other. So far, it’s the best thing I’ve seen on TV. We have so much to draw on in comedy right now — from politics to personal lives. The show has always been well-written but now it’s even better. In my career, I’ve never witnessed anything so funny. Hopefully this will bring light to bringing in more situational comedies because I think we’re in an era
right now where we need to laugh.
Words Shannon Levy
Photos Andrew Eccles/NBC