Nfld. & Labrador

Eric McCormack's acting changed this Stephenville man's life. Then they met in St. John's

When Andrew Perry sat down for Indian food in St. John's last week, he had no idea he would be meeting one of the small screen heroes who changed his life.

Will & Grace 'made me feel accepted and loved,' said Andrew Perry

Andrew Perry, left, got to meet his hero, actor Eric McCormack, during a visit to St. John's last week. (Submitted by Andrew Perry)

When Andrew Perry sat down for Indian food in St. John's last week, he had no idea he would meet one of the small screen heroes who he says changed his life.

Perry, a singer, actor and dance teacher in Stephenville originally from Ontario, was at India Gate restaurant as part of a holiday when he noticed a familiar face walk through the door. After a couple minutes, he realized who it was. 

"He sat down and was talking to the waitress, and just the way he was talking and his mannerisms, I was like, 'I'm pretty sure that's Eric McCormack,'" Perry told CBC Radio's Weekend AM in a recent interview.

McCormack is best known for playing gay character Will Truman on the hit NBC sitcom Will and Grace, which aired from 1998 to 2006 and then was revived from 2017 to 2020.

McCormack's character and co-star Sean Hayes — who played the more flamboyantly gay Jack McFarland and who himself came out as gay in 2010 — are credited with trailblazing the stories of gay men and LGBTQ relationships on television.

Will & Grace made its way to Perry's TV set, and had a huge impact.

"[I] grew up watching the show. Those four funny characters made their way into my life at a pretty young age and did a lot of influencing on me," Perry said.

"I grew up in a Christian home, and the topic of homosexuality wasn't something that was discussed, ever.… As a young gay man, it was a platform that made me feel accepted and loved. And that I was normal."

Sean Hayes as Jack McFarland and McCormack as Will Truman appear in the Will & Grace episode 'Sweatshop Annie & The Annoying Baby Shower.' The show ran on NBC from 1998 to 2006 and again from 2017 to 2020. (Chris Haston/NBC)

With that in mind at India Gate, Perry approached McCormack.

Perry said a short stop at the actor's table turned into a longer conversation between the two. Perry thanked McCormack for helping him and many others be represented on screen, and was thanked in turn for sharing who he is with the world.

"[Eric said] he's met many men and women along the way, [and] he's happy that he's helped. But he's never met me. And I'm an individual. And [that] I'm a special person. Someone different. So that really, really made me feel special," Perry said.

The encounter was an emotional one, he said.

"I was definitely crying, I had to definitely hold myself back.… There was some tears in his eyes as well, and the conversation wrapped with a really nice hug, which I was never expecting, and a picture. A very blurry picture, I might add, 'cause I was shaking with emotion."

Andrew Perry meets his television idol, Eric McCormack, at a restaurant in St. John's, Jamie Skidmore introduces us to The Ape and Mr. Fancypants, and Steve Finn goes to an adult dodgeball game. 30:03

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Weekend AM

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