Debra Messing, co-star of "The Wedding Date" Movie!
Debra Messing was born into a Jewish family in the New York City borough of Brooklyn on August 15, 1968. When she was three she moved with her parents and her older brother, Brett, to a quiet town outside Providence, Rhode Island. Her father, Brian Messing, is a sales executive for a jewelry manufacturer; her mother, Sandy Messing, has worked as a professional singer, banker, travel agent, and real estate agent. As a youngster Messing took lessons in dance, singing, and acting. “I remember watching the television show Fame and wanting to dance on top of a taxi,” Messing told Jennifer Kasle Furmaniak for Cosmopolitan (February 2001). She recalled to Roz Brooks for Complete Woman (September 1999), “I was always singing and dancing for my mother when I wasn’t glued to the television watching I Love Lucy or the Carol Burnett Show.” While Messing’s parents encouraged her dream of becoming an actress, they also urged her to get a liberal-arts education before deciding on acting as a career. Heeding their advice, she attended Brandeis University, in Waltham, Massachusetts. During her junior year she studied theater at the prestigious British European Studio Group of London program, in England, an experience that fueled her desire to act. After graduating summa cum laude from Brandeis, in 1990, with a bachelor’s degree in theater arts, Messing gained admission to the elite Graduate Acting Program at New York University (NYU), which accepts only about 15 new students annually. Three years later she earned a master’s degree in fine arts from NYU. Later in 1993 Messing won praise for her acting in the pre-Broadway workshop production of Tony Kushner’s much-lauded play Angels in America: Perestroika. Before long she broke into television, playing the part of Dana Abandando – the conniving sister of one of the main characters – in three episodes of the award-winning television series NYPD Blue; those installments aired in late 1994 and early 1995.
In 1995 Messing made her film debut, in the director Alfonso Arau’s love story A Walk in the Clouds, in which she had a small role as the wife of a World War II veteran (Keanu Reeves). This exposure led the Fox network to make her the co-star of the television sitcom Ned and Stacey; the series, about a young man and a young woman who marry for reasons other than love after knowing each other for only a week, lasted for two seasons (1995-1997). “I had no idea what I was doing,” Messing told David Martindale for Biography (May 2001). “I was thrown into the fire and learning on my feet in front of millions of viewers. I hardly even remember the first six months, because I was just terrified. I feel so much more at home [acting in a prime-time show] now.” Messing appeared as Jerry Seinfeld’s date in two episodes of the hit television show Seinfeld: “The Wait Out,” in 1996, and “The Yada Yada,” in 1997. The actress turned down a starring role in another television sitcom to appear in Donald Margulies’s two-character play Collected Stories, which opened at the Manhattan Theater Club, an Off-Broadway venue, in 1997. messing portrayed the protégé – and, ultimately, literary betrayer – of a famous short-story writer (Maria Tucci). Speaking of her rejection of the TV role in favor of acting on the stage, she told Furmaniak, “One was going to afford me money and fame. The other would take me back to the reason I became an actor – the theater…. It was the most important decision I’ve ever made in my professional life. It was about risk taking and not looking back.” But Messing also acknowledged to Brooks, “I love the theater, but if I wanted to pay my bills, I had to be open to film and television.”
In 1998 Messing had a lead role as the bioanthropologist Sloan Parker on ABCs dramatic science-fiction television series Prey, about a vicious new species of humans, spawned by global warming, who are determined to kill off all other humans. Although the show developed something of a cult following, Prey was cancelled after one season. Meanwhile, Messing’s agent had approached the actress with the pilot script for the television show Will & Grace, in which a heterosexual woman lives with a gay man who is also her best friend. Feeling tired after her stint on Prey, Messing was inclined to take some time off, but the pilot for Will & Grace intrigued her. In a conversation with Ian Williams for P.O.V. (November 1999), Messing described the visit to her apartment by the producers of Will & Grace one night; armed with a bottle of vodka and some limes, they tried to persuade her to join the show, which would pose a professional risk for everyone involved, because Will was to be depicted as openly gay. “I had to be assured by the producers that the very first priority, always, would be to make people laugh,” Messing said to Williams. “Not to be critical. Not to proselytize. To make people laugh. And now, much to my shock, there hasn’t been a right-wing revolt or picketing or exposes about how we’re ruining America. Because the show is funny first.”
Will, played by Eric McCormack (who is not himself homosexual), is a gay lawyer living in New York City with Grace (Messing), an endearingly clumsy and spirited interior designer who has been Will’s friend since college. The story revolves around the roommates’ search for love and romance. Other character’s are Will’s hilarious gay friend Jack (Sean Hayes), and Karen, Grace’s pampered secretary (Megan Mullally). In portraying Grace, Messing has often been described as a beautiful woman who is not afraid to act like a clown; Grace is known for her pratfalls and facial contortions. According to Ian Williams, “[Will & Grace] …owes much to Messing’s ricochet-like comic timing and rat-a-tat-tat delivery.” Tom Carson wrote for Esquire (October 2000), “What makes Grace the perfect sitcom heroine for these excessively briefed, motivationally addled times is that she keeps deciding to be impetuous – usually as a last resort and one that never works any better than her other instant stratagems for coping. It just turns her disasters into a form of self-expression…. [Messing] is unique and something splendidly unprecedented on TV.”
Directed by James Burrows, who also directed Cheers, Frasier, Seinfeld, and Friends, and created by Max Mutchnik and David Kohan, Will & Grace was an instant success. Messing has attributed its popularity in part to the earlier airing of Ellen, a sitcom about a bookstore owner who, in the course of the series (1994-98), realizes that she is a lesbian. That show was written by and starred the well-known comedian Ellen DeGeneres, who announced publicly during the show’s third season, that she herself is homosexual. After that revelation, Ellen lost viewers, and a year later ABC cancelled the series, after its fourth season. “There’s never been a leading man on TV who is gay,” Messing said to Furmaniak. “Ellen broke the door down, and we were able to walk right through.” “Men relationships are very different,” John Catania, a producer for PBS’s In the Life, a television news magazine series that focuses on gays and lesbians, said to Patricia Brennan for the Washington Post (February 14, 1999) in an attempt to explain how Will & Grace has escaped the backlash that Ellen suffered. “[Will & Grace] is as out there as Ellen was, exploring the issues, so either the public has matured, which I don’t think it has, or there’s something else.”
“I come from the New York theatre world, and I have a lot of gay male friends, so this friendship of will and Grace’s isn’t such a stretch,” Messing told Brooks. She said to David Martindale, “It’s a show about friendship. That’s what drew me to it, just the fact that these two characters know each other so well that they can practically read each other’s minds.” Since its premiere, in September 1998, Will & Grace has been one of the most watched shows on television. In 1999 Will & Grace won the People’s Choice Award (whose recipient is determined through a Gallup poll of the public) for favorite new comedy series, and in 2000 it won an Emmy Award for outstanding comedy series. For her work on Will & Grace, Messing won the 2001 TV Guide Award for actress of the year in a comedy series; a 2001 Screen Actors Guild Award as a member of the show’s ensemble cast; and a 2002 Golden Satellite Award, from the International Press Academy, among other honors. She was nominated for an Emmy Award as outstanding lead actress in a comedy series in 2000, 2001, and 2002, received Golden Globe Award nominations in each of those years, and has been nominated several times for an American Comedy Award. After the show’s successful first year, the producers gave a Porsche Boxer sports car to each of the sitcom’s four principal actors.
Messing was hand-picked by Woody Allen for a small role in his movie Celebrity (1998). When she learned that she had won the prominent role of Allen’s girlfriend in his film Hollywood Ending (2002), a huge scream “erupted” from her, as she put it to Jeannie Williams. “It was as if I went blind for a minute with joy and shock”, she told Williams. She recalled to Williams that she then told her agent, “Yes, yes, yes – say no to everything else, this is it, this is a dream come true. I grew up watching [Allen’s] films. They defined for me what comedy in American cinema is. “Hollywood Ending is about a washed-up director named Val (Allen), who tries to make a comeback. Messing’s character, Lori, is an aspiring actress who is “convinced she’s destined to be the next Julia Roberts,” as Messing said to Stephen Schaefer for the Boston Herald (May 6, 2002), on-line). “There is no doubt in her mind that is her destiny and she will either do it being ‘discovered’ on the street walking, like Michelle Pfeiffer was going to the grocery store, or she will do it with the help of Val. . . . She’s someone who wants to take the easy road”. In an interview with the on-line entertainment magazine UniverCity (May 23, 2002), Messing described the method Allen used to enable her to discover the essence of her character – one that resulted in nerve-racking uncertainty for the actress, who during her first four days on the set got no feedback from Allen. After he offered his first words of guidance, on the fifth day, Messing felt herself undergoing a transformation. As she recalled to the UnverCity interviewer: “My voice starts to change and my body starts to do something different. And [Allen] was like: ‘You just found the character.’ …And I thought, ‘Okay, this is going to be the greatest lesson of my life; I’m going to sit back [and] trust this genius because, you know, he’s earned trust.’ …And from that point on it was heaven. Because I knew exactly what he needed.” Reviews of the movie and of Messing’s performance in it were mixed.
Messing’s big-screen roles also include turns as a happily married but ill-fated wife in the supernatural thriller The Mothman Prophecies (2002), which stars Richard Gere; Lieutenant Penelope Carpenter in the inconsequential remake of the military comedy McHale’s Navy (1997); and Mary Magdalene in CBS’s biblical television movie Jesus (1999). Her stage work includes a stint as an understudy to Mary-Louise Parker and Polly Draper in the Off-Broadway production of Four Dogs and a Bone (1993) and a co-starring role in Paul Rudnick’s play The Naked Truth (1994). In the early 1990s she also had a role in a Seattle production of Oscar Wilde’s play The Importance of Being Earnest.
With her recognized talent for physical comedy and her luxurious head of curly auburn hair (which is sometimes described as red and has brought her jobs as a spokesperson for hair-care products), Messing has drawn comparisons to the legendary redheaded comedic television actress Lucille Ball. Cosmopolitan (February 2001) named Messing the magazine’s Fun Fearless Female of the Year. “I love to do glamorous things, like wear Valentino,” the photogenic Messing told Furmaniak, referring to the celebrated Italian fashion designer, “That’s a part of me that will never go away, playing dress up in my mom’s closet and looking at pictures of old Hollywood stars.” Messing is a supporter of the charities AmFAR, an organization that combats AIDS; the Gay Men’s Health Crisis; and Best Friend’s Animal Sanctuary.
Messing met her future husband, Daniel Zelman, an actor and screenwriter, on their first day as graduate students at NYU. “He was different from anyone I’d been interested in before. I’m so right out on the table. But he was quiet and introspective. I couldn’t stop wondering about him,” Messing recalled in an article that appeared on Entertainment Tonight (February 12, 2002, on-line). She and Zelman, who were married on September 3, 2000, live in Los Angeles. “Debra and her husband still basically live like they did when they were acting students,” Eric McCormack told Josh Rottenberg for InStyle (March 2002). “You go to their house, and they’re watching TV on a nine-year-old couch, and the place is still barely furnished. She still loves going to McDonald’s at midnight.” One of Messing’s long-term goals is to move back to New York with her husband and start a family.
“I think Debra Messing is almost our modern day Audrey Hepburn. There’s always something magical about the way she looks.” Merle Ginsberg, the entertainment editor of Women’s Wear Daily, told an interviewer for Entertainment Tonight (December 21, 2001, on-line). A classically trained stage, television, and film actress, Messing is best known for her portrayal of the interior designer Grace Adler on NBC’s award-winning sitcom Will & Grace, which debuted in 1998 and has completed four successful seasons. In her most prominent movie role to date, Messing played opposite Woody Allen in Allen’s film Hollywood Ending (2002). “Smart, well-spoken, down-to-earth. She comes to work without makeup. She orders McDonald’s more than she should. She listens. She is the least flaky actress I know,” Eric McCormack, Messing’s co-star on Will & Grace, has said, as quoted on the Web site askmen.com. Woody Allen described Messing to Jeannie Williams for USA Today (April 3, 2002, on-line) as a “natural comic talent… beautiful, very, very gifted. She lights up everything she does.”
Messing Gets 'Lucky' with Barrymore
Debra Messing, who currently stars in "The Wedding Date," will honeymoon in Vegas.
The "Will & Grace" star has joined the cast of Drew Barrymore and Eric Bana in the gambling comedy-drama "Lucky You," according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Messing will play the sister of Barrymore, who's a struggling singer in a Vegas show. The siblings meet professional poker player Huck Cheever (Bana) who has his own problems with an estranged father. "8 Mile" helmer Curtis Hanson will begin shooting the Warner Bros. project in Vegas in March.
Messing, 36, has won a best actress Emmy for her role in NBC's "Will & Grace." Her feature film credits include "A Walk in the Clouds," "Celebrity," "The Mothman Prophecy" and "Along Came Polly."
'Will & Grace' Star Not Just Messing Around
Debra Messing is best known as a star on the hit TV sitcom "Will & Grace," but she's also put together a respectable film career. She stars in "The Wedding Date," and hopes to build on her previous movie experience.
McHale's Navy (1997) - Messing is still trying to forget this lousy comedy adaptation of an old TV show. She co-starred with Tom Arnold - not exactly something to brag about.
Celebrity (1998) - Messing got to work with the venerable Woody Allen in this opus on fame and failed relationships. Her role was just a tiny one, though. She is credited as "TV Reporter at Lupus Office."
The Mothman Prophecies (2002) - Teaming with Richard Gere in this horror film, Messing shows her dramatic range. The story is about a mysterious, otherworldly entity that is able to predict, and perhaps cause, deadly cataclysms.
Hollywood Ending (2002) - Good news: The Woodman called Messing back and gave her a bigger role. Bad news: The film is Allen's worst ever. It's an aimless, unfunny comedy about a blind director.
Along Came Polly (2004) - Star in a comedy released in 2004, and odds are Ben Stiller is in the cast with you. Messing plays his unfaithful wife, who runs off with a diving instructor, allowing Stiller to put the moves on Jennifer Aniston's character.
Debra Messing Talks About "The Wedding Date"
Debra Messing on Working in England and Her Character's Dilemma
Looking absolutely gorgeous, Debra Messing strolled the red carpet at the World Premiere of "The Wedding Date," the Universal Pictures romantic comedy starring Messing, Dermot Mulroney, and Amy Adams. In the film, Messing's character has to hire a male escort in order to avoid having to answer questions about why she's still single - and, more importantly, to make her ex-boyfriend jealous.
Married since 2000 to actor/writer Daniel Zelman, Messing's definitely not in the market for a male escort. However her "The Wedding Date" co-star Dermot Mulroney claims he's her date from now on. All the cast hit it off while filming in England, and Mulroney's comment was just one of the compliments Messing's co-stars were tossing her way at the film's premiere.
INTERVIEW WITH DEBRA MESSING ('Kat')
Can you talk about your character's dilemma in "The Wedding Date?"
In the movie, my character has to go back to her sister’s wedding and face her ex-fiancée who called off the wedding, without explanation, two years earlier.
She’s single and lonely and so in order to face that again, she hires a professional escort to act the besotted boyfriend to make everyone think she’s better off for it.
And then she wishes she didn’t?
Did you enjoy filming in England?
Oh, it was fantastic. Of course, it rained every single day that we shot. And the day that we shot our wedding it was supposed to be in the script a magnificent, sunny, ideal day and, of course, it was a hurricane. So it was challenging. But I love London. I love England. We were out in the countryside and I had the time of my life.
This was a tiny, little film shot in 31 days so we were literally dropped down in London and it was like, “Get what you can!” We had rain. We had drunk people throwing beer at us in Leicester Square. We had a drunk woman outside a pub, watching this love scene outside screaming, cheering us on.
So all the Brits you ran into were drunks?
There were a lot of them. We encountered a lot of them (laughing). But they were lovely.
Decent, bland 'Wedding Date'
Nothing you haven't seen before, but cast does fine. "The Wedding Date" is a sweet, mindless diversion that is reminiscent of dozens of other romantic comedies. You know the ones: someone walks down the aisle with all the predictable confusion, angst and wackiness the writers can wring out of that rite of passage.
However, this particular wedding-cake walk does feature the excellent comedic timing of Debra Messing and the charm and sex appeal of Dermot Mulroney, which will likely combine to make this film a hit with the date crowd.
Messing plays Kat Ellis, a New York City career woman who is preparing to attend the wedding of her half-sister in England. There's just one little problem -- she doesn't have a date for the wedding, and the best man at the upcoming event is the same guy who recently dumped her after seven years together.
Her solution is to hire a professional male escort -- sight unseen -- to go with her to London and pose as her boyfriend.
In real life this strategy would have resulted in a nightmare of a guy, one more hulk than hunk. But this being a Hollywood movie he turns out to be a perfect gentleman named Nick Mercer, played by Mulroney.
That's all you really need to know. The plot is paper-thin and will shred under closer examination. It's obvious first-time screenwriter Dana Fox has watched "Four Weddings and a Funeral," "My Best Friend's Wedding" and "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" way too many times.
British actor Peter Egan joins the always reliable Holland Taylor in playing Kat's parents, Bunny and Victor Ellis. Taylor, now a star of "Two and a Half Men," has played this slightly daffy, off-center mother role numerous times and has it down pat.
The nasty ex-boyfriend is portrayed by Jeremy Sheffield, a suitably good-looking cad. Amy Adams ("Catch Me If You Can") plays Kat's selfish half-sister, and another British actor, Jack Davenport, is great as the slightly clueless groom. And "Wedding Date" director Clare Kilner makes the most of the beautiful locations in the Surrey countryside of England.
It's a nice turnaround to have the man in a film being the sex object instead of the woman. Mulroney plays a great hooker with a heart of gold and even makes more money than Julia Roberts made performing the same type of role in "Pretty Woman." She only got $3,000 for her services; Mulroney's Nick makes twice that amount. (Of course, it HAS been 15 years.)
Messing doesn't stray too far from her role as Grace Adler in her hit TV sitcom "Will & Grace" so she's on firm ground here. Of course, the results are far from groundbreaking.
But this little romantic piece of fluff serves its purpose of being a total "chick flick," thereby filling a niche that always comes in handy around Valentine's Day.
Debra Messing Reveals Herself 100%
As Will & Grace marks its 100th episode, its vibrant star gives us her all: about her Court TV addiction, her piles of unpaid parking tickets and her total commitment to french fries.
I give 100%...
...all the time, no matter what I'm doing. I feel like I've always been wired that way. If I'm not going to do something 100%, I'd rather not do it. It all comes from my family's work ethic. My mother's motto was, "Do what makes you happy. And when it doesn't make you happy anymore, make a change without fear." She always said that while you're doing something, you should give it your all.
...I pay parking tickets. You know, you can try to give 50%, but then they charge you all those penalties! Seriously, I have gotten many, many, many tickets in my life. In the past, I'd get distracted and send in a check a little bit late, but by the time they got the check it wouldn't include the late fee, so I'd get another late fee on top of the first late fee... So now, I am fully committed to giving 100% when I pay my parking tickets. Actually, my husband is now in charge of paying the parking tickets.
What holds my attention 100% is...
...Court TV. I can't stop watching it. I am absolutely obsessed! If I'm not reading a book or spending time with my husband, my friends or my dog, I am watching Court TV.
I guess it just plays into my obsession with justice and fairness if I weren't an actor, I'd be a lawyer. To me, nothing is more fascinating or theatrical than real life. These people are in dire situations, where something extreme has happened in their lives. And some of those trials! If some writer in Hollywood went into a pitch meeting with storylines that I've actually seen on Court TV, the studio head would say, "That's ridiculous. No human being would ever do that."
The cause I am 100% committed to is...
...french fries. Seriously.
I feel 100% energetic when...
...I'm arguing and I'm sure I'm wrong.
What would make the world 100% better is...
...actors not giving their opinions about what would make the world 100% better! (Well, that would make the world at least 25% better.)
I mean, everyone whether they're an actor or a doctor or a teacher or whatever is entitled to his or her opinion. But unfortunately, because actors are in the public eye, whether we want it or not, sometimes our opinions carry more weight or influence than they deserve. Certainly I'm grateful for that, because being in the public eye helps me to support charities and causes I care about like the Human Rights Campaign and the American Foundation for AIDS Research. That's an honor that comes along with this lucky thing that's happened to me. But, unfortunately, actors can't just say what they feel without people taking them too seriously, or accusing them of being pretentious, or accusing them of being ill-informed. It just carries too much baggage. We'd be better off keeping our opinions to ourselves.
But, since we're on the subject, the issue that should demand 100% of our attention right now is...
...the worldwide spread of AIDS. It's a shame that it isn't a top issue in this country, because for many countries, it's the only issue.
The person I count on 100% is...
...my agent. Oops, no, that's only 10%.
What I want 100% more of in life is...
...time. There are so many things to explore in our world, and there's just never enough time to do them all.
If I had 10 more hours in each day, I would spend more time with my husband, my friends and my family. I would take singing and painting lessons. I would go traveling in different cultures for extended amounts of time because there's nothing like being submerged in a new culture. I would read more books when I go on vacations. I would take photography classes. I would study the history of fashion. I would study jewelry making. I would probably take classes in law, and business classes, too. God, I just could go on forever. I mean, it's just such an exciting world we live in.
What makes me 100% happy is...
...escaping to some secret, sunny spot with my husband, spending the entire time in bed in our pajamas, reading books, ordering in and just being quiet and being together. We've traveled all over the world together, and what it comes down to is just being alone with him, anywhere. That's what makes me happy.
What it would take for me to be 100% successful is...
...for me not to care whether I'm 100% successful. It's a fine balance, because when you're passionate about something, you want it to be all it can be. But in the endgame of life, I fundamentally believe the key to happiness is letting go of that idea of perfection.
Debra Messing stars in the new romantic comedy ''The Wedding Date''
Debra Messing and Dermot Mulroney Star in "The Wedding Date"
In this sparkling romantic comedy, Debra Messing plays Kat, a never-married New Yorker, who is invited to her parents' London home for her younger sister's wedding. What should be a joyous occasion bodes disaster for Kat, however, when she discovers that the best man will be none other than her ex-fiancé, who, two years before, inexplicably dumped her. In a desperate attempt to face the ordeal with dignity, Kat hires Nick (Dermot Mulroney), a charming and handsome professional male escort, to pose as her new boyfriend and escort her to the wedding.
Even more valuable to Kat than Nick's good looks and charisma is his keen insight into human behavior--a well-learned trick of his trade. Over the course of the weekend, Nick takes on the role of the bride's therapist, the father's ideal son-in-law, the groom's new best friend and the object of every woman's affection.
For Kat, what starts out as a pretend relationship with Nick begins to turn into something entirely unexpected: a second chance at love.
Debra Messing enjoys her role in the comedy ''Along Came Polly''
Hank Azaria and Debra Messing may not have much screen time in the romantic comedy "Along Came Polly," but in the short amount of time they do have, the duo manages to steal plenty of laughs.
“Debra makes 'Lisa' sweet and likeable, even though her role makes her out to be someone who dumps on Reuben in the worst way. Hank is obviously one of the great comic actors and he can do any kind of voice. Even though 'Claude' is stealing Lisa from Reuben, I need the audience to think that although the situation is horrible, it’s okay because it’s a comedy. And Hank’s character is very sweet and brings a certain humanity to his role," comments writer/director John Hamburg.
How did you get in shape for this role?
HANK AZARIA: That took about seven or eight weeks to get in that kind of shape.
Every few years Hollywood asks me to be some version of a naked foreigner, and I'm very happy to oblige.
With very little screen time, how do you make your characters memorable?
HANK AZARIA: I showed my butt. That's how I decided to go.
DEBRA MESSING: I tell everybody, “If nothing else, see the movie so you can see Hank Azaria's ass.” We're both scantily clad at some point. That seems to help. I think it all just came from the script. I think that even the smaller parts were really well defined. They really popped off the page. It was a joy to do.
Can you get a little more specific about the script?
DEBRA MESSING: I guess when I approached my character, I just looked at Ben and Jen's characters because they were the core of the movie. [I was] trying to see what was the function of my character and my function was to have that balance of being a viable choice for him. I didn't want the audience to know the very first second that they saw her, that it was a joke and there was no chance that he would pick her. But [I also tried] making her funny and slightly unlikable so that you would cheer and root for Jennifer's character. We just played around. We did some improv in the rehearsal process. We just found little colors of character that perhaps were not on the page. I think that came from John Hamburg because he really encouraged us to play.
Hank, who did you model your character after?
HANK AZARIA: I just tried to do the most authentic French accent I could and get in the best shape possible, seriously, and just commit to what John wrote. It really is well written and it's a flashy little thing to do, to do this kind of weird, naked guy on the beach. It just seemed really funny. It just was funny so I thought, “Why not?” I just tried to get into the best French accent I could and then we sort of figured out the look of the guy.
DEBRA MESSING: The wig was pretty effective.
HANK AZARIA: I have to say, it came together when they put the wig on me. I didn't have a lot of faith in the wig at first. I mean, to put a blonde wig on my swarthy head - I don't think so. But then it kind of worked. Then they apply body paint to you and all these horribly humiliating things.
Debra, is comedy as challenging as drama?
DEBRA MESSING: I love both. I think that they offer two different kinds of challenges and they feed me in two completely different ways. I love comedy. There is something musical about it. If it's well written, just playing it. Drama just requires something different.
I'm always just looking for a great script. I did a film last summer that was a little more dramatic called “Something Borrowed,” that we shot in London. It's going to be coming out later on in the year. That allowed me to flex some different muscles.
What was life on the set like with the ferret?
HANK AZARIA: That ferret is a hell of an actor. He really is.
DEBRA MESSING: Very cute.
HANK AZARIA: Yeah, handsome ferret. No, you're always relieved when you don't have to work with the animal.
DEBRA MESSING: I've never worked with one. I love animals but I think I'm a little grateful not to have worked with it because from what I understand, he bit Jennifer on the face at some point, or on her lip or something.
HANK AZARIA: Well, so did I, in fairness.
Was Ben Stiller anything like his character, Reuben?
HANK AZARIA: No, he's not that fastidious, although he's very meticulous about his work.
DEBRA MESSING: He's got that perfectionist strain throughout. It was great working with him. Obviously, he's funny, but he's a good man. He's just kind and he's really passionate about what he does. Every day was fun.
HANK AZARIA: He's a very generous, warm guy. It’s always impressive when talented comedians are easy laughers or generous with their laughs. He's like that and always trying to help you make your part of the scene better. He's very unselfish that way.
Debra Messing is one of the Hot Mamas '04
Hollywood is experiencing its own mini-baby boom with numerous stars having children and their progress is chronicled in VH1's Hot Mamas '04.
The one-hour show scheduled for telecast Thursday will be packed with information on how the celebrities including Debra Messing, Denise Richards, Courteney Cox, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jenny McCarthy, Kate Hudson and Reese Witherspoon dress, stay beautiful and navigate the march in Hollywood to mommy-hood.
Hollywood moms-to-be have said goodbye to big t-shirts and sweat pants and designers have provided Hollywood's A-listers with hot clothing, no matter how the waistline expands during pregnancy. The show also reveals the methods the actresses, models and musicians use to stay in shape while pregnant and where they shop for their children. There will be interviews by the stars as well as their designers, exercise and diet experts and industry insiders.
Debra Messing stars in "Along Came Polly"
It is no surprise that Will and Grace's Debra Messing was positively glowing when we met to discuss her latest movie, Along Came Polly, starring Jennifer Aniston and Ben Stiller. Looking radiantly pregnant, the 35-year old Emmy Award winner is clearly excited about impending motherhood. "It's a wonderful thing," the quietly spoken actress exclaims smilingly. Married for three years now to actor/screenwriter Daniel Zelman, whom she met at university, the couple is expecting their first child. Messing says that her pregnancy will definitely not be written into Will and Grace. "We spoke about it for maybe a minute and then it just became very clear that everyone across the board agreed that it just didn't feel right. The story lines were such, and the tenor of the show was such, that it didn't feel like it was going to add anything to the show. There are also all these precedents of other shows hiding it. Julia Louis Dreyfuss had 2 babies on Seinfeld and they hid it."
Messing says that is not the slightest bit nervous about motherhood, nor is concerned at balancing motherhood with career. "It's always been really important for me to try to maintain a balanced life, professional and personal, and this was absolutely something that my husband and I had hoped for," says Messing. "Whatever consequences come as a result, in terms of work, I'm fully prepared to embrace because it's a priority to me to be a mother." The actress adds that she is going to plan her new maternal life one step at a time. "I'm still working at Will & Grace and very grateful that they have been able to modify the work schedules so that I can be a working Mom at the same time. We're coming back next year and I have some other movies to promote then as well, so I don't anticipate it being very much different in the realm of my professional life; I just think my personal life will feel this."
Messing spent her last Will & Grace Hiatus playing a newly married Jewish wife, who fools around with a French scuba instructor, played by Hank Azaria, in the romantic comedy Along Came Polly. She wants it known that she is far removed from that unfaithful character as is possible to be. "First of all, I'm very devoted to my husband and we've been together for a very long time. I think my ability to stay faithful is better than hers. Also, she's a lot perkier than I am, "she smilingly adds. "I have the ability to have other colours of emotions, not just joy all the time, so hopefully I'm less annoying than she is."
Now entering its sixth season, Will & Grace has established Messing as a major comedic star. Since its debut, Messing says that her fictional counterpart has developed considerably since her TV conception. "I think that she's aged nicely, she's settled down a little bit, and I think she's a little wiser. I also like the fact that of all of her really wacky boyfriends that she had the first 2 seasons, it's nice to see her fall in love and have a successful relationship, as short as that was. I think she feels better in her skin and maybe a little sassier as a result." As for Messing, she, too, has developed much like Grace. "I hope I've aged gracefully since we've started," she begins, laughingly. "I guess everything has changed. I'm married now, going to be a mother. I think professionally, obviously the biggest thing was having the luxury of a consistent job. It's a miracle to be an actor and to know that you have a job to go to a year from now is a rare thing, so I think peace of mind and financial stability come with that. Hopefully I'm a little wiser and have a little more perspective in my life than I did then."
Messing has also had to cope with the increasing pressures of fame, the paparazzi, and has even ended up in a police station. Yet, she says, she has learned to cope with those pressures. "You talk to people who know more than you about it, have perspective about it and realize that it is happening because you have the good fortune of doing what you love for a living and also trying to not give your life over to it in a way where you're crippling yourself, locking yourself in your house and not doing the things that you need to do to live a normal life and just trying to find ways to protect yourself and the people you love and protect the life. But it's not easy."
As to the future of the show, Messing is somewhat circumspect. "Right now we're in the middle of our sixth year and we're coming back for sure next year. I don't have a timeline or cut-off point for myself. I'm a little commitment phobic, in that I've always been someone who likes to take things one year at a time because as we all know, a year can change everything in your life. Who knows the circumstances of your life but my prerequisites haven't changed, it's still intact and as long as we're all still having fun, which we are, and we all still feel like the writing is funny and fresh and that there are more stories to tell, then there is no reason to stop." Messing won't elaborate on plans for her TV husband, except to add that her marriage remains in trouble. "I can't spill any beans but I can say that Harry Connick, my TV husband Leo, comes back from Cambodia towards the end of the season."
Beyond motherhood, Messing has two other films in the can. "I did a film in London last summer called Something Borrowed, a kind of romantic comedy which has darker elements to it, with Dermot Mulroney. Then I played Bill Murray's girlfriend in Garfield, playing Arleen the cat." The later sounds perfect for a future mother.