My chat with Sean Hayes about playing God
The last time I had seen Sean Hayes was a few months ago at a coffee house in Silver Lake about a block from my house.
Since he was with a friend and they appeared to be writing something together, I didn’t even try and say hello.
But last week at the Television Critics Association’s Press Tour in Pasadena, I did say hello after a panel on the new NBC comedy Crowded which Sean is executive producing.
But I didn’t want to talk to Sean about Crowded, I wanted to talk about the play An Act of God, the play he opens in at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles on January 30.
There’s no danger of Sean stealing bits from Jim Parsons who starred in the show on Broadway last year.
‘Jim is a good friend and, unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to see him in it but he’s a brilliant actor,’ Sean said. ‘I heard that it was great and I read that it was great. Being offered the part here in LA, all the elements kind of came together to make it an easy yes.’
An Act of God, which will have a six-week run, has God possessing the body of an actor in order to answer some questions and tell his side of the story. It is based the Twitter account @TheTweetOfGod of The Daily Show writer David Javerbaum which also inspired a book.
‘I’ve been working with David Javerbaum the writer to make it more in my voice and Los Angeles-centric and Joe Mantello the director is amazing,’ Sean says. ‘With all of the people involved, it’s been a wonderful experience so far and I’m really looking forward to it opening.
‘I live in LA so it’s an easy commute.’
Although Sean starred on Broadway back in 2011 in Promises, Promises and earned a Tony Award nomination, he has never headlined on the big stage in Los Angeles where he lives.
‘I think this is the first time in this type of theater,’ he says. ‘I did stuff at The Groundlings but no one wants to know about that!’
Before beginning his run on God, Sean is producing an NBC special that pays tribute to director James Burrows responsible for Will & Grace, Friends, Cheers, Two and a Half Men and many other classic television sitcoms.
The special tapes on January 24 and will air on NBC on February 21.
‘It’s going to be unlike anything anybody’s ever seen – casts from all shows that you’ve loved and current shows Jimmy Burrows has been associated with and helped create and make big hits out of,’ he says. ‘He’s amazing. I call him the Steven Spielberg of TV and I call Steven Spielberg the Jimmy Burrows of film.’
After buzz erupted last week that the special would be a much-anticipated Friends reunion and reunions of other casts including Will & Grace, Sean appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show this week to lower expectations.
‘What we did is we gathered all the casts from all of those shows and we’re going to a do a two-hour special, and they’re all going to participate in some way or another. It is not a reunion of any kind,’ he told Ellen.
Producing this special is one of many things on Sean’s crowded plate these days.
He is an executive producer of Hollywood Game Night, NBC drama Grimm, and the new comedy Crowded – all which air on NBC. He was also an executive producer of the long-running hot Hot In Cleveland.
‘I enjoy acting and producing equally,’ Sean says. ‘I enjoy acting because it’s what love to do and producing is what I love to do and I’m also fascinated with how things are made and been fascinated by who makes that first phone call to create a project. And now that we are those people, we are content creators and deal makers, it’s very fulfilling in a way that acting isn’t.’
He’s also made two attempts to return to sitcoms with Sean Saves the World lasting just one season (I loved that show!) and the CBS comedy The Millers being canceled last year after its second season.
But one thing Sean knows can’t be canceled are the wildly popular videos he makes with husband Scott Icenogle and posts on social media.
These videos include lip-synching to the song Velcro by Clairity with big hair and eyeliner and to Iggy Azalea’s Trouble.
‘It seems we’ve tapped into something accidentally and we’ll be doing a lot more of them in probably a different platform very soon,’ he says.
‘The real win in life is doing something from the heart and not have to worry about the results.’
Sean will take An Act of God to San Francisco after his LA run. Here is a LINK to get tickets to the show at The Ahmanson.