While it’ll hardly be news to her gay faithful, it may surprise some to learn that Megan Mullally, the woman most famous for her role as helium-voiced harpy Karen Walker on groundbreaking sitcom Will & Grace, can actually belt out a Broadway tune.
“Most people are shocked – it seems like a fraction of Will & Grace fans know that I’m actually a real singer. I think people are surprised by that… and I think they’re also kind of sad that I’m not more like Karen in real life,” she told fg.
Mullally will showcase her considerable talents during her first trip to Australia, timed to coincide with the Mardi Gras Festival. An Evening with Megan Mullally sees the performer and her old friend, comedian and pianist Seth Rudetsky, share stories from her several decades in show business and bust out a few Broadway classics – plus one special treat for Australian fans.
“I will be potentially doing a song that was written for a show that never happened, called Karen: The Musical. I’ll be singing that song as Karen… but other than that I can’t really come out there and pretend to be Karen for 90 minutes. Because that would be weird.”
We’d heard whispers about Karen: The Musical ever since Will & Grace finished in 2006. With no show ever materialising, one had to assume it was simply too good to be true.
“Oh no, it was very real – we had producers, a director, a composer. But at the very last second, lo and behold, a person who shall remain nameless withdrew the rights to the character of Karen. That put a slight wrinkle in our plan.
“It was going to be so funny and I was so excited to do it… but now it’s water under the bridge,” she sighed.
Perhaps it was for the best. Rather than rehashing her most famous character, Mullally’s forged ahead with a thriving post-Karen career, playing a variety of fabulous bitches on TV shows like 30 Rock and Parks & Recreation (where she acts opposite her real-life husband, Nick Offerman). Did she find it hard to outrun the shadow of boozy, pill-popping Karen Walker?
“It was pretty easy, because I tend to say yes to a lot of different jobs. I just kind of carried on and did as much work as I could. There’s a great comedy community in Los Angeles that are all very supportive of one another, and I was lucky enough to become friendly with all of those people. We look out for each other.”
While Mullally’s status as a gay icon was assured the second she swilled her first cocktail on Will & Grace, one quote from a particularly loose-tongued 1999 interview with US gay mag The Advocate suggested she counted herself more than just an ally.
“I consider myself bisexual, and my philosophy is, everyone innately is,” she said at the time.
The admission certainly hasn’t defined her career – does she feel it’s getting easier in Hollywood for people who are anything other than straight?
“I don’t think it’s really a big deal anymore. I’d never go out of my way to say this, but while I said that I believed everyone was innately bisexual, I never had a girlfriend or could’ve been considered bisexual in that regard,” she explained.
“I do think everybody’s innately bisexual, but I also think most people are not in any kind of level of self-awareness to be able to recognise or admit that in themselves, or even go anywhere near it.”
And while she sheepishly admitted work commitments were keeping her from spending much time with her own family members, let alone her old Will & Grace cast mates, Mullally said she and the gang did check in with each other back when US vice president Joe Biden gave the show an unexpected shout-out last year.
“I think Will & Grace probably did more to educate the American public than almost anything anybody’s ever done so far,” Biden said when Meet the Press presenter David Gregory quizzed him on gay rights.
“There was an instant email chain happening between us over that. It was insane. The vice president is referencing a sitcom I was on as being a force of change in our culture! It’s hard to wrap your head around that.”
AN EVENING WITH MEGAN MULLALLY
FEBRUARY 22, 8PM. FEBRUARY 23, 3PM & 8PM