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Jack of All Trades

Glen Ellyn Native Sean Hayes takes on an unexpected role—that of a divorced dad—in his new Evanston-based sitcom.

Sean Hayes

If Emmy-winner Sean Hayes was a politician, there’s a good chance his approval ratings would be through the roof. After all, the Glen Ellyn native, 43, has managed to do the near impossible in Hollywood, which is play a hugely popular (and iconic) character (Jack McFarland on Will & Grace) and not only keep racking up film and TV roles ever since the show ended, but successfully jump into producing as well.

Hayes, knowing the fate that often awaits sitcom actors so attached to a role, teamed up with fellow Chicagoan Todd Milliner in the latter seasons of Will & Grace to create Hazy Mills Productions, the production company responsible for hits like Hot in Cleveland, Grimm and Hollywood Game Night. Now, with Sean Saves the World, premiering Oct. 3 in NBC’s Thursday night comedy block, Hayes hopes to strike ratings gold again, even if it prompts critics to declare, “Sean Saves the Network.” The sitcom, set in Evanston (be on the lookout for Chicago references!), features Hayes as a divorced gay father juggling career, relationships and family.

According to Hayes, “If you enjoy the sensibility of Will & Grace or Friends or Frasier, you’ll enjoy the sensibility of this.” Hayes even goes so far as to suggest that viewers “will probably see some of Jack because Sean Hayes played Jack. But you’ll also see some new things about this character that you didn’t expect. I’m more of a real and grounded adult in this show.”

After playing slapstick for eight seasons (“my favorite scenes were whenever me and Megan Mullally slapped each other!”), Hayes welcomes the more mature role as a dad trying to figure it all out. Has that led him to consider becoming a father in real life? “People have kids at all ages now, so I never want to say never, but right now, I don’t see how I could be present enough for a child.” And how could he? He’s off saving the world—Hollywood style.

Hayes’ Chicago Hots
The people, the food, the neighborhoods and the feeling of tradition; being outdoors with friends; the Museum of Science and Industry; Michigan Avenue; Illinois State University [his alma mater]

Hayes’ Chicago Nots
I don’t like the weather; and I don’t like that it’s so far away