TODAY   |  October 17, 2013

‘Will & Grace’ stars ‘knew we’d be together a long time’

Actors Eric McCormack and Debra Messing visit TODAY to celebrate the 15th anniversary of their groundbreaking sitcom “Will and Grace.” They tell TODAY’s Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie that they felt the show would be a hit as soon as they shot the pilot episode.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> " will and grace " starred here on nbc. we will catch up with the stars in a moment. first a look back at that ground breaking show.

>> each other.

>> thank you, thank you!

>> " will and grace " was must-see tv on nbc for eight years. premiering september 21st , 1998 .

>> i love you.

>> i love you.

>> the show centered around best friends will truman , a gay lawyer and grace adler , a straight interior designer sharing an apartment in new york city .

>> oh my god, there is no product in your hair, i'm calling 911.

>> they along with will's flamboyant gay friend jack and her friend made up a foursome.

>> pharmacist, jierl, back-up pharmacist.

>> hope farming and backup don't find out about each other.

>> it aired with its openly gay characters rare in prime time tv.

>> i'm gay.

>> it soon became a huge hit, nominated for 83 emmys, winning 16. its impact hit a high last year when vice president joe biden endorsing same-sex marriage embraced the show.

>> i think " will and grace " did anything to embrace the american public than anybody has done so far.

>> first of all, it made a plast in a week.

>> i haven't made contact with a woman in some time, i'm sure they haven't done that.

>> still talking about myself.

>> snap my one-leaners.

>> i think your car is here.

>> and physical comedy . it went off the air on may 18th , 2006 . the curtain closed, but thanks to syndication, the laughter lives on.

>> that's a fun effect, debra messing , eric mccormick with us now. guy, nice to see you.

>> hi, how are you?

>> does it seem like 15 years since it day bowed?

>> i think it's 15 years since had that haircut.

>> you are ageless.

>> it doesn't feel like 15 years ago. in that clip, it was from the pilot, i swear, it feels as if it was just two years ago.

>> how far into the run of the show did you realize it was going to be a really big hit ?

>> honestly, i was sitting literally in these positions on a couch like this on that set on the night of the pilot looking at each other going, not, wood, but are you thinking what i'm think something.

>> he said it. i was too superstitious to say it out loud. he turned to me after we shot the pilot.

>> look you.

>> i said, i think we're going to be together for a long time. i got chill, quick, quick, quick, like every kind of superstition.

>> throw salt over your shoulder.

>> we saw this is a show that has had a lasting social impact . do you like that, being a part of the culture in that way?

>> i love it. we used to be asked when it was on. we were a comedy, we were trying to be funny. now with time, the idea that, you know, particularly, i know we're proud of the show always treated will's desire for the perfect man as equal to grace's desire for the perfect man. i think that's subversive in an area of equality, that was real message that came out of the show.

>> speaking of the perfect woman and the perfect man, that brings up megan mullaly and john -- they were so funny and provided such great chemistry for you two.

>> incredible. the two of them used to say that they were sort of the.

>> fun house mirror of us.

>> the vaudeville version of us. the four of us when we were together, it happened. you can't plan that, it was luck.

>> you were there, it was like a sandbox.

>> you know what was nice, it wasn't in an excluesary way. a lot of times you get chemistry like that in a crew. anybody that comes into the set is like an outsiders, you were not like. sean hayes was here, he has a new show on msnbc. he had a message for you guys.

>> reporter: hi, eric, deb remarks it's sean hayes , i don't know if you remember, we only said first names on the set, but i miss you guys. i love you guys. i was invited. i don't know where you are or why you are here. i love it. call me and we'll all get together next friday at our favorite restaurant. will, you have to figure out what that is.

>> you two actually still do get together when are you in each other's town.

>> we don't tell sean, america, don't tell him.

>> he's not invited.

>> we don't get to see each other a lot. when i'm in new york, plarm, it seems to be around your birthday or my birthday. we get together.

>> we do.

>> let's end on a real upnote. his most annoying habit.

>> and yours?

>> i can't come up two annoying. can i say endearing?

>> he has a whole list.

>> wow.

>> i can't come up with one.

>> i did love deb laughing at -- in the middle of scene at her own self sometimes deb laughing what i just said, it wasn't annoying, it was fantastic.

>> i joan e enjoyed it all. it was all very funny. he kept us all very excited. he would jump up and down like a pogo stick before we went out. it was fantastic.

>> it was the '90s.

>> yes, it was.

>> we'll end on that shot, leave that image up for everybody. it's great to reminisce.

>> it's great to see you both.

>> we tv is running mini marathons of " will and grace " through the end of the year.