If Debra Messing keeps having the kind of good time she’s having on “Smash,” could “Will & Grace” one day drop a ranking on her “Best Job Ever” list?
“The amount of fun that I'm having on this show is so ridiculously off the charts already,” says Messing of her latest role on NBC’s making-of-a-Broadway-hit series, in which she plays lyricist and co-writer Julia Houston. And she can’t avoid being asked about how the experience stands up so far against her eight-season stint on the sitcom. “Of course, you can't compare them – they're apples and oranges. This is a huge ensemble, a drama, very character‑driven, a very naturalistic world and tone.”
“But this cast is so accomplished and so committed, everyone is so passionate about this project – we're working really hard, but we're laughing a lot, and we're really proud of what we're doing,” she adds. “And so I wouldn't even compare my experiences on both. I would just say I'm grateful for the fact that NBC has created a new home for me again where I want to go every day.”
“One of the things that was most exciting to me about the character and what I related to was: here is a woman who is very passionate about her creative life and needs that part of her life fulfilled, but also really is a proud mother and wants that home life and wants that balance,” Messing reveals. “And I love that nothing is simple. My character – all of our characters – go through difficulty and challenges, and we're often surprised at the table reads. You know, we have no idea what's happening next, but it's all interesting and it all feels authentic.”
The actress says she not only gets to do what she does best at work, she also frequently gets a front row seat to some impressive on-set performances right in her scenes. “Oh my gosh, I always feel like I'm jumping out of my skin I'm so excited,” she confesses. “I'm in a privileged position because I get to sit behind the table and act like I'm judging them and just enjoy them. I get to watch Megan [Hilty] and Kat [McPhee] and everyone sing and dance for eight hours at a time. I feel like I'm fifth row center at a Broadway show.”
Messing’s character has been co-crafting the original songs for the Marilyn Monroe-inspired musical the show’s centered around, and she admits she’s gotten bit envious that she hadn’t been called on to sing and dance herself.
“It's hard, it's really hard,” she admits, but then makes a coy revelation. “I actually have all ready shot a song. All I can say is that I have played the lyricist, so the context and the tone of the singing is very different, but they have incorporated song into the very dramatic arc of my character in a way that I think is pretty clever.”
Given that her last regular TV character Grace Adler was particularly known for her off-key singing, can we assume that Messing will demonstrate decidedly more melodic talents this time around? “I leave that,” she chuckles, “to you to decide.”
"Smash" airs Monday night at 10 PM ET on NBC