November 12, 1958– Megan Mullally:
“I’ll quit coffee. It won’t be easy drinking my Bailey’s straight, but I’ll get used to it. It’ll still be the best part of waking up.”
She had me at Karen Walker, and Mullally has had a special place in my heart ever since. During the first eight seasons of Will & Grace, weren’t there times you just wanted to smack the two leads for being so damn annoying? But, Jack and Karen were never less than completely hilarious. Mullally won a pair of Emmy Awards, like bookends, seven SAG Awards, plus three Golden Globes for her delicious portrayal of Karen Walker. I think we all need a nice big double dirty martini to celebrate her birthday today.
I first made note of Mullally when she played a call girl in Risky Business (1983) starring young Tom Cruise and Rebecca De Mornay. Mullally went on to have a nice run of funny guest appearances in various popular sitcoms: Wings (1990-97), Seinfeld (1989-98), Mad About You(1992-99), Caroline In The City (1995-99), and 3rd Rock From The Sun (1996-2001).
Just when it seemed that guest spot roles on television series would be her thing, Mullally turned to the stage and made her Broadway debut in 1994, playing Marty in a revival of Grease with Rosie O’Donnell, and appeared in How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying opposite Matthew Broderick in 1995. She can be heard singing on the cast albums of both productions. She opened in her own one-woman musical show, Sweetheart, in Los Angeles in 1999.
In 2009, I saw her in the Seattle pre-Broadway try-out of the Mel Brooks stage musical Young Frankenstein playing Elizabeth, the role made famous by Madeline Kahn in the original film, tough shoes to fill, but I loved her in the role and she has received nearly unanimous outstanding reviews.
Mullally also performs in her own musical group called The Supreme Music Program. Their songs offer lush vocals and unique arrangements using unexpected instruments from many genres. It’s Post-Modern Cabaret with elements of Blues, Pop, Country, Traditional Folk, Rock, and even Classical. The band has released three albums.
Mullally is in another band, Nancy And Beth, along with actor Stephanie Hunt of Friday Night Lights. Hunt and Mullally became friends while filming the independent movie Somebody Up There Likes Me (2012) in Austin. Their sound is sort of Andrew Sisters meets Grace Slick. Their first single is titled Pussy And Weed.
Mullally was born in Los Angles, but grew up in Oklahoma City with an actor father and a mother who was a professional model. She dated actor William H. Macy while attending Northwestern University. Her first marriage, in the mid-1990s, was to talent agent Michael Katcher. In 2003, Mullally married actor Nick Offerman, who guest-starred on Will & Grace in season four.
Mullally currently lives the Hollywood Hills with her husband and a pair of poodles, Willa and Elmo. Their gorgeous eclectic modern house, with furniture designed and built by Offerman’s own company Offerman’s Woodshop, was featured in Elle Décor magazine.
After a dozen years of marriage, Offerman and Mullally turned their raunchiest and nuttiest personal experiences into a stage show Summer Of 69: No Apostrophe that toured to rave reviews in summer 2015.
In 2015, she wrapped her fifth season on NBC’s Parks And Recreation (2009-15) with her husband, and ABC’s short lived, but clever Happy Endings (2013-15). Last season, Mullally worked on the limited series You, Me And The Apocalypse for NBC and Children’s Hospital on something called Adult Swim and starred in an acclaimed sold-out run in openly gay playwright Adam Boc’s The Receptionist at L.A.’s Odyssey Theatre, the longest run of a show in that theatre’s history. Last year, I was pleasantly surprised to see her pop up in a nutty guest spot on a show I am quite fond of, Life In Pieces. Last winter, Mullally was part of the terrific ensemble of the charming film Why Him?, a comedy with James Franco and Bryan Cranston.
Last year, up popped a delight, surprisingly fresh viral Will & Grace reunion mini-episode, getting the cast together, and getting the original set re-assembled in project aimed to remind viewers to get out and vote. The 10-minute video had more than seven million viewers after its debut on the day of the first Presidential debate in September 2016. Unlike other reunion shows, the characters just picked up where they left off, all of them looking pretty much to the way they did a decade ago when the series ended, and so did their character dynamic. And, I was ready for a little Karen Walker, I can tell you that.
After the success the reunion special, NBC announced the series’ return, with a 16-episode ninth season. The season premiered in September and it swiftly became the network’s number one comedy. NBC has renewed the Will & Grace for a tenth season.
They are back on December 5 with a special Christmas episode.
They played rivals on Will & Grace as Karen Walker and millionaire Beverley Leslie, but in real life, Mullally and tiny gay actor Leslie Jordan are BFFs. The industry buzz about her is that she is super nice and fun to work with.
“I’m not a diva, but I played one on TV.”
Mullally commented in an interview in The Advocate:
“I consider myself bisexual, and my philosophy is, everyone innately is.”