The Emmy-winning actor and his musician husband show what loves looks like every day: “To show the world that everyone is human first"

By Jason Sheeler
April 09, 2020 11:00 AM
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As the second series finale for Will & Grace airs later this month (the show has had two different runs), Sean Hayes is looking back on his 30-year career in Hollywood.

Speaking with PEOPLE for this week’s issue, he’s looking back — remembering auditioning to replace Jim Carrey on In Living Color and his role as Larry in the Three Stooges movie. He’s also looking forward, to what lies beyond his iconic “Just Jack.” There could be a talk show, due to the success of Hayes, 49, guest-hosting on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

  • For more from Sean Hayes, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday
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Sean Hayes in Lazy Susan
| Credit: Shout! Studios

But first: Lazy Susan. Hayes stars in and co-wrote the movie about, well, a woman named Susan. (She is a character he’d played before, even for his audition for In Living Color.) Yes, Hayes plays a woman — a deeply unambitious woman in a small Wisconsin town who doesn’t know what to do with her life. “There’s that question we all ask: ‘Who do you want to be?’ It’s not always easy,” says Hayes.

What has been seemingly easy for Hayes is his relationship with his husband, Scott Icenogle. Hayes calls him “Scotty.” The two met through Ellen DeGeneres, when Icenogle was serving as deejay on the set of The Ellen DeGeneres Show. The two dated for eight years before getting married in 2014. The pair has made a series of viral lip-sync videos and Icenogle served as music supervisor for Lazy Susan.

Premiere Of Amazon's "Transparent" - Red Carpet
Scott Icenogle and Sean Hayes
| Credit: Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty

While Hayes says he was “proud and honored” to play the character of Jack McFarland on Will & Grace for 11 seasons, “the thing I’m most proud of is being myself and expressing open love with my husband,” he tells PEOPLE.

“Through silly Facebook videos or red carpet appearances, where we’re holding hands at premieres, those images are more powerful than most things. Just trying to normalize what should already be normal. And to show the world that everyone is human first,” he says. “That’s the message I love.”

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Will & Grace cast
| Credit: Chris Haston/NBC

After three decades in Hollywood, Hayes has found his happy place — at home. It’s been a bit of a full-circle moment lately, from Lazy Susan the character, to Will & Grace, to Lazy Susan the movie.

“I think about that every day. I think about where I was, where I came from, and where I am now. I can honestly I can say that every single time I drive up my driveway to park my car in my garage, I’m not making this up, every single day, I say, ‘I can’t believe I live here. I can’ t believe my life.’ I am grateful every single day for everything I have, for every person I’ve met,” he shares. “I hope most people feel that way, I know it doesn’t appear that way in Hollywood, but I can’t believe this happened to me.”

Will & Grace airs Thursdays (9 p.m. ET) on NBC.