Sean Patrick Hayes (born June 26, 1970) is an American actor and comedian. He is widely known for his role as Jack McFarland in the NBC sitcom Will & Grace, for which he won an Emmy Award, four SAG Awards, one American Comedy Award, and six Golden Globes nominations. He also portrayed comedian Jerry Lewis in the made-for-TV movie Martin and Lewis.
Hayes was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Mary, the director of a non-profit food bank, and Ronald Hayes, a lithographer. He is of Irish descent and was raised as a Roman Catholic. After graduating from Glenbard West High School in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, Hayes attended Illinois State University. There he studied piano performance and conducting, with a special focus on the music of Mozart, but he left before graduating. He worked as a classical pianist, and served as a music director at the Pheasant Run Theater in St. Charles, Illinois. He also composed original music for a production of Antigone at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago. Hayes moved to Los Angeles in 1995, where he found work as a stand-up comedian, stage actor and as an actor in television commercials, including the 1998 Doritos ad, featuring Ali Landry, which aired during the Super Bowl.
As a teenager, Hayes was an extra in Winona Ryder's first movie, Lucas (1986), which was filmed at his high school, Glenbard West. He made his professional film debut in the independent film Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss (1998), which brought him wide attention and caught the attention of executives who cast him in the NBC comedy television series Will & Grace, as Jack McFarland, a flamboyantly gay, frequently unemployed actor. The show became a long-running hit and Hayes’ performance as Jack earned him seven consecutive Emmy Award nominations (2000–06) as Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. He won the Emmy for his first nomination. He was nominated for six Golden Globe Awards for his performance. Hayes also made film appearances in Cats & Dogs (2001), as Jerry Lewis in the made-for-TV movie Martin and Lewis (2002), Wayne in Pieces of April (2003), The Cat in the Hat (2003) and Win a Date With Tad Hamilton! (2004). He was the voice of Brain in the 2008 film Igor. He has also guest starred in several television programs, including Scrubs and 30 Rock. In 2005, he was executive producer for Situation: Comedy for Bravo, a reality show about sitcoms. He also executive produced the two winning scripts, chosen by NBC: The Sperm Donor and Stephen's Life. He guest-starred in 2006 in the Adult Swim cameo-filled show Tom Goes to the Mayor. Hayes has created his own production company, Hazy Mills, with Todd Milliner, his producing partner from college. In 2007, Hayes was featured in a major role as Matthew, also called Thomas, in Rob Reiner's film The Bucket List, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. On July 5, 2008, Hayes made his New York stage debut as Mr. Applegate/Devil in New York City Center's Encores! production of Damn Yankees opposite Jane Krakowski and Cheyenne Jackson. He also appeared as "Mr. Hank Hummerfloob" and also the voice of 'the fish' in The Cat in the Hat. In a 2008 New York Times interview, Hayes stated that he is working on a television project called BiCoastal about "a guy with a wife and kids in California and a boyfriend in New York." Sean Hayes made his Broadway debut alongside Kristin Chenoweth in the April 2010 Broadway revival of the musical Promises, Promises. He has received a nomination for the Drama League Award for Distinguished Performance. He was also nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical. Hayes was host of the 64th Annual Tony Awards on Sunday, June 13, 2010 on CBS. Also in 2010, Hayes reprised the role of Mr. Tinkles, the evil white Persian cat, in Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, the sequel to 2001's Cats & Dogs, released on July 30, 2010. On November 15, 2010, Hayes appeared on a satirical PSA for the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Hayes played Larry Fine in the Farrelly brothers film The Three Stooges, which began filming in May 2011 and was released in April 2012. Outside of acting, Hayes is co-executive producer of the TV Land original comedy series Hot in Cleveland, which premiered in June 2010. He is also a co-executive producer of the NBC show Grimm.
For many years Hayes declined to discuss his sexual orientation, saying he believed that audiences would therefore be more open-minded about his characters. In an April 2010 interview with The Advocate magazine, he discussed his sexuality and appeared to imply that he is gay: "'Really? You’re gonna shoot the gay guy down? I never have had a problem saying who I am,' he states....'I am who I am. I was never in, as they say. Never,' he insists." He indicated that he was in a relationship. Answering the charge that he had skirted the issue of his sexuality for too long, Hayes commented, "I feel like I’ve contributed monumentally to the success of the gay movement in America, and if anyone wants to argue that, I’m open to it."