Whose idea was it to do this? Walk us through how this all came together.
McCormack: "It was entirely out of the blue. We knew 10 years ago, for reasons he never really explained, [co-creator] Max Mutchnick had the entire set — every detail of it, every book, box — moved across the country to his alma matter at Emerson College and that's where it's been sitting — behind glass, like at the Smithsonian Library — for 10 years. There was some deadline to give it back to him or he had to give it back to someone else so it was going to be transported across the country and that's when Max dreamed up this idea of a 10-year reunion for the election. It started with him, around early or mid-August. We all immediately said yes and then it became about finding a date. Then we miraculously did — a week ago today, last Tuesday, and we shot it Wednesday. Wednesday, by sheer coincidence, happened to be the 18th anniversary of the show premiering in 1998."
Messing: "It was immediate, electric joy [when she got the call from Max]. I did not hesitate for a second. I said, "I'm in, just tell me where and when." I thought it was such an incredible idea. Will & Grace was always about being irreverent about whatever was going on in the world. With how unprecedented this election cycle has been, there's no perfect time than right now for the show to be on based on the kind of show it was and the kind of comedy we did. To find out that after 10.5 years of being away from it and be able to come back and have this reunion — and Max had the sets, which was so insane — so to do this homage sketch and revisit the characters and to have fun with what's been going on the election was heaven to me."
What was it like reuniting with everyone for the first time after 10 years?
McCormack: "It was incredibly emotional. The show was always funny and fun. Rehearsals were funny, read-throughs — the very first one of the script — were always funny. Across the board, the network would always show up because they knew it was going to be funny right out of the gate. From moment one [of the reunion], there was a tremendous happiness — but also a real sadness — because we knew it was brief: it was going to be 24.5 hours and then we were going to be done. It wasn't just the four of us either; we had a lot of our original writers and producers and crew there. There was a sense of, "This is incredible and it's all going to be over way too soon.""
Messing: "We had our costume fittings before we saw the set for the first time and we reunited in this empty dressing room, one by one. It was a love fest. We've kept in touch over the years but the four of us have not been in same room in 10 years. It was very emotional. The four of us were having this group hug and marveling at one another and the fact that we were all together and what we were about to do. When we walked on the set, it was a very intense moment. It was shocking to be back on that set with every little prop in place. It was surreal, exciting and certainly nostalgic. But there was a kind of shock: all of our mouths were wide open and we were slowly working our way around the set saying things like, "That painting is here!" It took us about five solid minutes on the set to finally get over the shock of it."
Who wrote the script for it?
McCormack: "Max and David Kohan, who created the show; Gary Janetti, Bill Wrubel had a hand in it. Those were the four main writers. Then on the night we shot it, a lot of our original writers came out — Jhoni Marchinko, Tracy Poust and Jon Kinnally. There was some rewriting on the day but as always, everyone contributed. But really, this was Max and David's baby."
McCormack: "Jim Burrows! We never did episode that Jim Burrows didn't direct. The whole point of this was, "Wouldn't this be funny if it looked like any other episode of the show." There was talk of do we play their age? But what was the point? Everybody looks great. Other than talking about the election and the iPads we had at the beginning, it could be a show from 2004, you know?"
The reunion seemed so effortless for everyone to get back into these characters. Did you talk about doing an ongoing revival at all? Is that something you would be interested in doing for a network or streaming outlet?
McCormack: "There is no official talk. A lot of that started the past 36 hours on the internet, which can create its own crazy expectations. We had a great time. It's a never say never type of situation. But at this point, there is no talk. Maybe [he'd be interested in doing it]. I think you'll find that we'll all give that answer. The whole eight years was lightning in a bottle. You want to be careful that you don't mess too much with that bottle. We knew when Max said, "This is what it is: it's 10 minutes for this purpose; I have the sets." We knew that was not going to mess with it; in fact, it would very much add and be exactly the way we'd want to reunite at this point. As for the future, everyone — from Max and David on down — is so protective of the show and how we ended it. We're very proud of the series finale and the story that told of the break that friendships sometimes take. So to play with that and change that story and change our own stories in life, I'm sure we would all be open to talking about it."
Messing: "The whole thing started and was over in two days. Everyone went back to their lives; I got back on a plane and went to New York and we didn't have time to really talk about it. Now that it's live, everyone has been asking: are we really coming back? Could we really come back? My response, which I've learned in the last five years, is I never say never anymore. Everything has changed so much in the TV industry; there have been reboots. Now there are platforms where you can do six or 10 episodes. I don't believe we would ever come back to network [TV] again. I think that the logistics of all of our lives, there would just be way too many things to hammer out. But for something shorter-lived and maybe having the limitations of being on network TV lifted may give us a fun, fresh opportunity because we could be really, really naughty! (Laughing.)"
Read the full interview at The Hollywood Reporter, and watch it again below!