Winter TV Preview: 'Smash'

Q/A: Debra Messing
Throughout her 18-year career, Emmy winner Debra Messing, 44, has learned a lot about the vicissitudes of the television business — which no doubt made surviving Smash's wild first season much easier. EW talked to the actress about all of the changes in store for season 2 and how she really feels about Julia's scarves (may they rest in peace).

Looking back, what did you think about the first season?
Being someone whose first love was musical theater, it sort of fulfilled every fantasy for me of a perfect TV show to be a part of. So I loved it. Having said that, it certainly did have inconsistencies. But it was the first season of the TV show, and a very ambitious and large TV show. So in my mind, it was a success.

Were you surprised at the attention given to Julia's wardrobe?
I have to take some responsibility for that. It was very important to me that Julia not look like a fashion plate, that she look like someone who is a creative person, who lives in Brooklyn, who is also a mom. But clearly it became kind of a joke because you never saw her without [a scarf]. The last thing that I wanted was for my clothes to distract from the storytelling.... I have not seen a scarf this entire season. I mean, it literally was like there was a big red circle with a slash going through a picture of a scarf.

What was your reaction to Theresa Rebeck leaving the show?
I was shocked, I was scared, I was sad — she was the creator of the show. And it was her voice that imbued all the characters. It did concern me that it would be hard for anybody, regardless how talented, to pick up a show and continue the voice of the characters. But having said all of that, I think that Josh [Safran] has done a valiant job.

Your old Will & Grace costar Sean Hayes is guest-starring this season as a film actor making his Broadway debut. But you don't have any scenes with him!
I still have not recovered from that. Bob Greenblatt came to set and looked me in the eye and said, ''I promise you will definitely interact with him at some point.'' And then [Hayes] was gone.

Seems like a wasted moment.
I agree! I mean, come on. Even if I ran into him at the local Starbucks, a scene that has nothing to do with moving the plot along, just having us bump into each other and say hi, that's all I wanted.

Does it feel like the same show this season?
It definitely feels different. We lost half of our cast and gained a beautiful new group of cast members. So to say that it feels exactly the same would just not be honest. But it feels good. It feels different but good.

Originally posted Jan 04, 2013 Published in issue #1241 Jan 11, 2013 Order article reprints

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