People

People

Tanya Davies September 20 1999
People

People

Tanya Davies September 20 1999

People

Tanya Davies

An act of Will

A Canadian enjoys playing a grown-up

Actor Eric McCormack has hit the sitcom jackpot. Last year, the Toronto native won a lead role in Will and Grace, a comedy that is heading into its second season as one of the most popular shows on North American television. “It is so much fun to talk about a show that I love,” says McCormack, whose character, Will Truman, a gay lawyer, lives with his best friend, Grace Adler, in Manhattan. “I have been in series where I cringed as I tried to promote them.” It was guest roles in bad sitcoms that persuaded McCormack to wait for the right series to star in. “I wanted to do a witty, urbane, must-see TV show, but I couldn’t relate to the sitcoms about single twentysomethings sitting around their apartments,” says McCormack, 36, who lives with his wife, Janet, in Los Angeles. “Will is smart, grown-up, and I related completely.” And while NBC network executives prepared for an onslaught of disapproval for having a gay character in prime time, it never happened. “We didn’t make him a pushy character,” says McCormack. “The show is about being funny, not about being gay, and that has won us fans both straight and gay.” McCormack realized he wanted to be an actor after starring in a high-school production of Godspell. After attending Toronto’s Ryerson Theatre School, he spent five years on stage at the Stratford Festival. “I was regularly criticized for having a modern style, better suited for television than the stage,” McCormack says, “so I decided to get into TV” And how do his parents feel about Will? “My character in the TV series Lonesome Dove: The Outlaw Years killed someone every week,” says McCormack, laughing. “That was a lot worse.”

Elements of art

Filmmaker Deepa Mehta knows a thing or two about braving the elements. The first of her film trilogy, Fire, inflamed Indian communities around the world in 1997 for depicting the sexual relationship between two sistersin-law in modern New Delhi. Now, the second instalment, Earth, set in the violence and upheaval of India’s independence from British rule in 1947, may cause a stir when it opens in Canada on Sept. 24. Based on the 1991 novel Cracking India by Pakistan’s prominent author Bapsi Sidhwa, Earth is a tender rendition of tumultuous Lahore, India, as seen through the eyes of an eight-year-old girl, just as the country collapses into civil war. The movie has already won critical praise and awards at international festivals.

Currendy in India filming the final instalment, Water, Mehta, 50, says the three elements were an inspiration to illustrate the human condition. “These three, fire, earth and water, are elements that nurture and destroy,” she says. “By their very nature, they carry a dichotomy.” Duality is a way of life for the Indian-born Mehta, who immigrated to Canada when she was 23, and divides her time between Toronto and New Delhi. “In India, I’m a Canadian filmmaker,” says Mehta. “And in Toronto, I’ve been called an Indian filmmaker. Why do I have to choose?” Clearly, she doesn’t.