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Sean Hayes: HypocondriActor

Sean Hayes.
Sean Hayes.

Eleven years after Will & Grace's first finale, Sean Hayes reprised his outrageous character Jack McFarland in the series' reboot — but it wasn't easy to jump right back into the role.

"When we did the table read of the first episode of the reboot I was like, 'oh boy.' Your body feels it. I forgot how much work this is. So it was hard to get the energy and find the energy. But slowly it comes back.""

McFarland has starred on Broadway, hosted the Tony Awards, and produced TV shows like Hot in Cleveland and Celebrity Game Night.

Now, he's also a podcaster. He co-hosts the show Smartless with actors Jason Bateman and Will Arnett. And he's partnered up with internist and comedian Dr. Priyanka Wali for his new podcast, HypochondriActor (Hayes loves puns).

HypochondriActor tackles his lifelong obsession with medical stories. "My favorite part of talk shows is when people from all walks of life come on and share a medical issue they've had because it connects us. Right? It's my dream come true. I get free medical advice."

NPR's Ask Me Another host Ophira Eisenberg challenged Hayes to two games inspired by his medical obsessions. First, he identified Broadway musicals based on descriptions of injuries suffered by characters in those musicals. Then, he played a word game called "Diagnosis Dessert," where every answer is a sweet treat combined with an ailment.

Interview Highlights

When asked if his puppy does any tricks

I mean, we're lucky if we can get him to come when he's called. But he literally will eat anything. We call his mouth "The Chamber of Secrets" because you could open up his mouth at any point in the day and fish out anything you're missing.

On his early show biz days filling in as a piano player for a dinner theatre in Illinois

I was sitting at home and the phone rings... "Can you get here? The piano player/music director has tendonitis, she can't even push down on one key." So I got there, I had no time, I sight read the second act in front of everybody. I'm missing every other note but I'm young so I feel invincible. I think I was like 22 years old. And then, the show ended but it was a two show day. So in between shows I had an hour and a half to then go and practice the whole thing. I grew up a little bit that day.

Heard on Sean Hayes & Ed Helms: Podcast No. 9.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.