TORONTO— “Will and Grace” star Eric McCormack says he credits the Stratford Festival for giving him a “foundation of artistry” that has remained with him throughout his career.
McCormack returned to his hometown of Toronto Monday night to be celebrated with the festival’s Legacy Award.
McCormack will be honoured during a gala at the Four Seasons Hotel, joining the ranks of past award recipients including Gordon Pinsent, Christopher Plummer and William Shatner.
The award-winning actor was a member of the festival’s acting company from 1985 to 1989, when he appeared in 17 productions including “Measure for Measure,” “Much Ado About Nothing,” “All’s Well That Ends Well,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Henry V.”
McCormack says he fond memories of seeing the late Stratford legend Douglas Campbell perform as “King Lear,” and in serving as a understudy for veteran actor Colm Feore.
He launched his acting career in Canadian theatre, performing at Stratford and across Canada, including stints with the Vancouver’s Arts Club Theatre, the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, Theatre New Brunswick, the Citadel Theatre, and Canadian Stage.
“The strange thing is doing classical repertory theatre doesn’t necessarily prepare you for sitcoms or television; but what it does prepare you for is a life of fighting uphill,” McCormack said in a brief interview ahead of the presentation.
“I can do 1,000 auditions and never get anything, but the one thing they can never take away from me is I have five years at the Stratford Festival. It gives you a foundation of artistry that is always there.”
His stage success extended outside of Canada to the U.S., where he starred in the title role of “The Music Man” in 2001 on Broadway, and opposite stage and screen legends James Earl Jones and Angela Lansbury in the Tony-nominated “The Best Man.”
McCormack catapulted to international fame with his Emmy-winning turn as lawyer Will Truman on “Will and Grace,” and is in the midst of filming the reboot of the American sitcom.
He is also a producer, director and star on the sci-fi series “Travelers.”