“As actors, we want to play different parts. That is why we’re actors. We want to push ourselves and play people that we aren’t.” – Sean Hayes
Will & Grace star Sean Hayes stars in the recently-released indie film Lazy Susan as the title character who is, in fact, a woman — not a man in disguise. Unsurprisingly, it’s not an arrangement that audiences have seen on screen very often. In conversation about playing Susan with Yahoo!, Hayes speaks about why he was up for the challenge as well as what worried him about the decision to play Susan.
Hayes reveals that he was extremely interested in playing the role in a film because of the challenge of portraying a woman. He explains, “I thought, ‘What an incredible challenge to play a woman.’ Like how scary and weird would that be if I played a woman? I wanted to do it because it’s why we’re actors, to embody people that we aren’t, and sometimes feel uncomfortable doing that. I like that kind of uncomfortableness of a challenge.”
Naturally, Hayes had reservations about his decision to take the role even up to the first take, admitting, “The whole week leading up to the first day of shooting I’m like, ‘What the f*** did I say yes [to]? Which was another indication that it was good to do it. Because you should always do things that scare you.”
Hayes had first played a version of Susan nearly thirty years ago when he first developed the character for an audition for the sketch comedy show In Living Color. He remembers, “I went with my bag of wigs and accents and characters and all kinds of guys and girls I played. And one of them was Susan.”
Portraying Susan in Lazy Susan is the type of challenge that many actors seek out, but Hayes points out that Hollywood does not give actors opportunities to stretch out of their comfort zones. He says, “As actors, we want to play different parts. That is why we’re actors. We want to push ourselves and play people that we aren’t. But on the other hand, I think the Hollywood system has to got to be open to giving others at least the opportunity to prove themselves worthy of roles that are defined by themselves. I understand the business part. You want to sell tickets so you have to hire names. But at the same time we also have to give people an opportunity to build a name for themselves.”