Will & Grace's Sean Hayes on His New Podcast 'Smartless' and How Jack Would Be Handling Quarantine

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Richard Harbaugh/ IGLA/ Screen Actors Guild Awards

"I decided a long time ago, you must embrace the thing that made you famous. Otherwise, you're an asshole."

In the past few years, podcasts have gone from niche to mainstream. Will & Grace's Sean Hayes is the latest major talent to join the fray with his new podcast Smartless, which he co-hosts with longtime buddies Jason Bateman and Will Arnett. "We've all been friends for over 20 years." On Smartless, they each invite a guest the other two either don't know personally or aren't aware are going to be guests. The result is a lot of surprises, learning—and most importantly, laughs. "I have never laughed so hard in my life. Those guys are two of the funniest people and two of the sweetest guys I've ever known."

Hayes recently revisited playing Jack, the role that made him famous, on the reboot of Will & Grace. The show was known for its major guest stars, which included an iconic episode where Hayes had a dance-off in front of Janet Jackson—"As one does"—with now podcast co-host Will Arnett. But one major star didn't make the cut. "Jesus Christ and Jason Bateman were the only two people never on during the show's run."

How did the podcast come about?

All three of us were talking and throwing out ideas for podcasts. I don't know if it was Jason's idea or whose idea it was, but it was like, why don't we just do this together? You constantly try to find new angles for film, television, podcasts, radio, whatever it is. We decided it would be great if one of us surprised the other two with the guest. We like that it would be really a really fun surprise to the other two. And it could be somebody that we know or it could be somebody that is in a field of interest that we know nothing about, which I think is equally as fun because we get to learn.

Why do you think podcasts like Smartless are so successful?

We've been talk-showed to death. I'm still a fan, and I may do one myself one day. But they're showing you a produced segment. On a podcast, you don't have that structure. I think people are drawn to that because it's more real.

Smartless Podcast Sean Hayes
Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes and Will Arnett host the new podcast 'Smartless.' Test Pattern Media

Do you ever invite a guest to throw off Jason or Will?

I've done that. Everybody's thrown off because it's always a surprise. I like being surprised by the sports figures they bring on because I have no idea who they are.

Were you surprised by how much of a success the reboot of Will & Grace was?

Yes. A lot of times I think you dream of reliving part of your youth over again, and then here we are, this is like the perfect excuse to do that. I really was so young at the time [of the original run of the series] and I needed a job. To be part of something that's bigger than any of us was like, you could not foresee that happening. There are no words. I feel honored and blessed.

How do you think Jack would handle being in quarantine?

He'd definitely have COVID, amongst other diseases, right? Wouldn't he think he's impervious to all of it? And then of course he would get it and whine and have Will pay all his hospital bills.

Jack is such an iconic character in TV history, you must get some interesting fan reactions?

I was having lunch in New York City with my husband, Scotty, and this family comes up. They were like, "Excuse me, do you mind taking a picture?" I said, "Not at all." I went to join them, and they handed me the camera. They just wanted me to take a picture of them [laughs]. Look, I decided a long time ago, you must embrace the thing that made you famous.