Sean Hayes Feels 'Lucky' to Have Husband by His Side During 'Exhilarating' Broadway Run (Exclusive)

'Will & Grace' star Sean Hayes is Tony-nominated for his performance in the Broadway play 'Good Night, Oscar'

Bruce Glikas/WireImage
Bruce Glikas/WireImage

Sean Hayes is grateful for his support system.

The Will & Grace Emmy winner, 52, currently stars on Broadway as the troubled and brilliant Oscar Levant in Good Night, Oscar, for which he was recently Tony-nominated.

Playing the famous concert pianist and character actor required Hayes to adapt his voice and mannerisms to believably embody Levant, who battled depression and addiction. It's also a role that's consumed much of Hayes's life for over a year: The show began its run in Chicago in 2022 before transferring to Broadway in April.

"It's a lot. It is exhausting," Hayes admits of the pressure of leading Doug Wright's play, set before and during the taping of a tumultuous 1958 episode of The Tonight Show. "And it makes you question why do we choose to do this for a living? But it's also extremely rewarding."

By his side during his journey with Good Night, Oscar has been his husband Scott Icenogle, 53.

During its Broadway run, Icenogle, whom Hayes married in 2014, has been sharing posts on his Instagram, praising his spouse's performance. Upon news of Hayes's Tony nomination, Icenogle sweetly shared, "So proud of this fella right here."

Related: As <em>Will & Grace</em> Ends, Sean Hayes and Husband Scott Continue to &#39;Normalize What Should Be Normal&#39;

John Nacion/Shutterstock
John Nacion/Shutterstock

Acknowledging "how unbelievably lucky I am" to have Icenogle's support, Hayes says, "People don't realize it, nor is it their job to realize, what goes into something like [Good Night, Oscar]."

"It's endless. The vocal preparation, watching what you eat, you have to buy the right foods, then you get there early, you have to ice your hands before, you have to ice your hands after. My right eye, my retina partially detached a couple weeks ago. I don't know if it's from doing this, I think it is, but I could talk to you for an hour what goes into it."

Hayes says he leaves the darkness of the role at the theater between shows. ("I think my husband would otherwise leave me," Hayes jokes.) But that wasn't always the case in the months leading up to the play's Chicago premiere.

"When I was going through the initial process of rehearsal, I had to; I had to take it home," he shares.

The night before Hayes first previewed the production in Chicago, he recalls coming home to his husband and confiding, "I can't tell if this is working or not." He explains of his earlier doubts, "You don't know if you got it. You never know if you got it."

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Now that the play, directed by Lisa Peterson, is a Tony-nominated hit on Broadway, Hayes says he feels "extremely honored."

"It's so rewarding because it so easily could have gone the other way, as it often does," he says. "But that audiences are responding and people like you and other people get it. They see the work that went into this. I'm grateful and I wake up every day with a new state of gratitude about everything."

"It's time in my life, in my age, my career to go for it in ways that I never have," Hayes adds. "And so whether people responded to this role in this play positively or not was almost secondary to the challenge I wanted to put upon myself as an actor. I wanted to see if I believed it, if other people would. I wanted to see if other people bought what I was trying to sell. And I was okay with the result either way because I had to be, you know?"

Good Night, Oscar is now playing on Broadway.

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