Debra Messing on her Golden Globes nomination, and the ‘Will & Grace’ tradition of losing out on awards night


A nine-time nominee, “Will & Grace” star Debra Messing is no stranger to the Golden Globes — so much so that she allowed herself to sleep in on nominations morning.

But with her first nomination since the beloved comedy series mounted its comeback last year after 12 years off the air, Messing continues to be amazed by how much has gone right since the show returned for a second time around. “The whole thing has been a dream,” Messing said.


How did you get the news?

I was dead asleep and my publicist called and woke me up. It is the first time that I have slept through a nomination. I love the ceremony, and the tradition, and waking up at the crack of dawn and watching the names — it’s always been something I love. This time I just did not think it was possible that I would get nominated. So, for the first time I consciously said: “You know what, sleep in.” We filmed last night. I was like, “I could use some sleep.” The phone rang. I’ve had a perma-smile ever since.

Two seasons in, how are you feeling about the comeback?

We’re finishing up our second season. I still look around and just marvel that after 11 and a half years, we came back and now we are really doing the TV show again. It’s astonishing to me. I feel such gratitude to be able to come in and to play with my old friends and to do work that I am really proud of. I feel like the writers have just done unbelievable work. The show is better than ever, actually. I feel like my nomination is really a celebration of the writers.

Is being open to a reboot something you’d recommend to your fellow actors? David Schwimmer was a guest this season — have you nudged him about making “Friends” happen?

I haven’t recommended it because it doesn’t feel like it is something that’s easily accomplished. It feels like such an anomaly. As actors, we’re gypsies. We’re actually built to go from role to role and transform and continue to reinvent ourselves. To get everybody back together — it just seems like such an impossible task.

But, you know, the landscape of television has become so vast in terms of how many channels and networks there are, and the source material is so vast with podcasts and such. The reboot is just another valid source of material.

Last year, many attendees wore black in protest of sexual harassment in Hollywood and beyond. A year later, how are you feeling about how the industry has responded? Can you feel the changes in your day-to-day life as an actor?

Yes, I do feel a shift. I feel like because now we’re actually having the conversation, everybody is. Not just women. Not just actresses. But people from every industry. I think it’s the kind of thing where you can’t put it back in the bottle. You can’t go backward.

On set I do feel a silent awareness of respectfulness, I guess. Obviously, a lot of the horrors happen behind closed doors, that is not something that just ends overnight. The only way it will end is if people are held accountable. I am encouraged that over the last year, we’ve had some people being held accountable for their actions. We have a ways to go.


This obviously won’t be your first Golden Globes ceremony. What has been your favorite memory through the years?

I think “Will & Grace” has been nominated something like 27 times and has lost 27 times — you’d have to check the numbers. [“Will & Grace” has been nominated 30 times.] We had a tradition that every time one of us lost, we would lift our glasses of Champagne and be like, “Cheers!” at the table. And, for a time, there’d be Godiva chocolate on everybody’s plate and so we’d toast the Champagne and we would eat chocolate. It became our thing. That’s my favorite memory. It would be nice to someday have one of our names called.

FULL COVERAGE: 2019 Golden Globe nominations »