Sean Hayes
Hayes in 2010
Sean Patrick Hayes

(1970-06-26) June 26, 1970 (age 53)
EducationIllinois State University
  • Actor
  • comedian
  • musician
  • producer
Years active1996–present
Scott Icenogle
(m. 2014)

Sean Patrick Hayes[1] (born June 26, 1970)[2] is an American actor, comedian, musician and producer. Known for his performances on stage and screen, he gained acclaim for his role as Jack McFarland on the NBC sitcom Will & Grace, for which he won a Primetime Emmy Award and four Screen Actors Guild Awards. He has also received nominations for six Golden Globe Awards and two Tony Awards, winning one of the latter.[3][4]

He also runs a television production company called Hazy Mills Productions, which produces shows such as Grimm, Hot in Cleveland, The Soul Man, and Hollywood Game Night. He portrayed Jerry Lewis in the CBS film Martin and Lewis (2002). He is known for his appearances in films such as Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss (1998), Cats & Dogs (2001), Pieces of April (2003), The Cat in the Hat (2003), Win a Date with Tad Hamilton! (2004), The Bucket List (2007), Igor (2008), The Three Stooges (2012), Monsters University (2013), and Am I OK? (2022). Since July 2020, he has co-hosted the comedy podcast SmartLess alongside Jason Bateman and Will Arnett.

Hayes made his Broadway debut playing Chuck Baxter in the musical Promises, Promises in 2010, for which he received a Tony nomination. He portrayed God in the comedy An Act of God from 2015 to 2016 and Oscar Levant in the Doug Wright play Good Night, Oscar in 2022, the latter of which earned him the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play. He hosted the 64th Tony Awards in 2010 for which he was awarded a Primetime Emmy Award.

Early life

Hayes was born in Evergreen Park, Illinois, the youngest child of five of Mary Hayes (1939–2018), the director of a non-profit food bank called the Northern Illinois Food Bank,[2][5][6] and Ronald Hayes, a lithographer.[2] He is of Irish descent and was raised as a Roman Catholic in the Chicago suburb of Glen Ellyn, Illinois. His father, an alcoholic, left the family when Hayes was five years old, leaving his mother to raise him and his siblings. He has been estranged from his father for many years.[1][6]

After graduating from Glenbard West High School,[7] Hayes attended Illinois State University,[6] where he studied piano performance.[8] He left "two or three classes short" of graduation when he became music director at the Pheasant Run Theater in St. Charles, Illinois.[8] Hayes worked as a classical pianist.[9] He practiced improv at The Second City in Chicago.[10] He also composed original music for a production of Antigone at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago.[11] He moved to Los Angeles in 1995,[10] where he found work as a stand-up comedian and an actor on stage and on television, including a commercial for Doritos which aired during Super Bowl XXXII in 1998.[10]


As a teenager, Hayes was an extra in the film Lucas (1986), which was filmed at his high school. He made his professional debut in the independent film Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss (1998), which brought him wide attention. The same year, he was cast as Jack McFarland, a flamboyantly gay and frequently unemployed actor, in the NBC comedy series Will & Grace. The show became a long-running hit and Hayes' performance earned him seven consecutive Emmy Award nominations as Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. He won the award for his first nomination.[3] He was also nominated for six Golden Globe Awards for his performances.

Hayes also made film appearances in Cats & Dogs (2001), as Jerry Lewis in Martin and Lewis (2002), Wayne in Pieces of April (2003), The Cat in the Hat (2003), and Win a Date with Tad Hamilton! (2004). He was also the voice of Brain in the 2008 film Igor, and has guest-starred in television shows such as Scrubs and 30 Rock. In 2005, he was executive producer for Bravo's Situation: Comedy, a reality television series about sitcoms. He also executive produced The Sperm Donor and Stephen's Life, the two winning scripts that were chosen by NBC. He guest-starred in 2006 in the Adult Swim cameo-filled show Tom Goes to the Mayor (S2E15, "Bass Fest").[12] Hayes appeared as Thomas in the film The Bucket List (2007). On July 5, 2008, he made his New York stage debut as Mr. Applegate / Devil in New York City Center's Encores! production of Damn Yankees.[1]

He also appeared as Mr. Hank Humberfloob and provided the voice of "The Fish" in The Cat in the Hat. In a 2008 interview in The New York Times, Hayes talked about a television project, BiCoastal, about "a guy with a wife and kids in California and a boyfriend in New York" for Showtime.[1][13] He made his Broadway debut in the April 2010 Broadway revival of the musical Promises, Promises. He received a nomination for the Drama League Award for Distinguished Performance, and was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical.

Hayes was host of the 64th Annual Tony Awards on June 13, 2010, on CBS.[14] In 2010, he reprised the role of Mr. Tinkles, the evil white Persian cat, in Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore. On November 15, 2010, he appeared in a satirical PSA for the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He played Larry Fine in the film The Three Stooges (2012).[15]

Aware that his role in Will & Grace "wouldn't go on forever,"[16] Hayes teamed up with friend Todd Milliner, whom he met at Illinois State University,[7] to create the television production company Hazy Mills Productions in 2004.[16][17][18][19] Hayes was co-executive producer of the TV Land original comedy series Hot in Cleveland, which premiered in June 2010 and ran for six seasons.[20] He was also a co-executive producer of the NBC series Grimm,[21] as well as creator and executive producer on another NBC series, Hollywood Game Night.[22] Other television series produced by the company include The Soul Man and Sean Saves the World.[19]

Hayes and his husband, Scott Icenogle, produce lip-sync videos under their YouTube channel, The Kitchen Sync.[23] They lip-synced to songs such as Trouble and Burnitup! He was the host of An All Star Tribute to James Burrows. Hayes starred in the Broadway production An Act of God, June 6 to September 4, 2016, after engagements in Los Angeles and San Francisco.[24]

In 2017, Hayes played the role of Steven, the devil emoji in The Emoji Movie.[25] He and his husband wrote a book named Plum, which is about how the sugar plum fairy got her wings. Hayes has always had an interest for the Nutcracker and memorized the whole musical piece.[26] Hayes has also guest starred as Buddy Wood on the NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation.

In July 2020, Hayes, along with Will Arnett and Jason Bateman, created a comedy and talk podcast called SmartLess.[27] He also hosts another podcast with Dr. Priyanka Wali called HypochondriActor.[28] Hayes starred in and was one of the executive producers for the Netflix Series Q-Force, released September 2, 2021.

In 2022 Hayes portrayed pianist Oscar Levant in the play by Doug Wright entitled Good Night, Oscar which premiered at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago.[29] He reprised the role on Broadway at the Belasco Theatre, beginning in April 2023.[30][31] He received rave reviews for his performance earning a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play. He also received the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lead Performance in a Play.

Personal life

Hayes refused to discuss his sexual orientation for many years, saying he believed that audiences would therefore be more open-minded about his characters.[32] In a 2010 interview with The Advocate, he appeared to imply that he is gay, stating: "Really? You're gonna shoot the gay guy down? I never have had a problem saying who I am. I am who I am." He also indicated that he was in a relationship. He feels he has "contributed monumentally to the success of the gay movement in America, and if anyone wants to argue that, I'm open to it."[10]

He received an honorary PhD from Illinois State University in February 2013.[8] In November 2014, Hayes announced that he had married his partner of eight years, Scott Icenogle.[33] In October 2017, while appearing on an episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Hayes revealed that he had been hospitalized with a rare condition in which his small intestine burst. The intestine was successfully repaired.[34]



Year Title Role Notes
1996 A&P Sammy Short film
1998 Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss Billy Collier[35]
2000 Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins Brain Pod #13 Voice
2001 Cats & Dogs Mr. Tinkles[36] Voice
2003 Pieces of April Wayne
2003 The Cat in the Hat Mr. Hank Humberfloob / Voice of the Fish
2004 Win a Date with Tad Hamilton! Richard Levy the Shameless
2005 Roberto the Insect Architect Narrator
2007 The Bucket List Matthew
2008 Soul Men Danny Epstein
2008 Igor Brain Voice
2010 Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore Mr. Tinkles Voice
2012 The Three Stooges Larry Fine
2012 Hit and Run Sandy Osterman
2013 Monsters University Terri Perry Voice
2014 How Murray Saved Christmas Edison Elf Voice
2017 The Emoji Movie Steven Voice
2020 Lazy Susan Susan O'Connell
2022 Am I OK? Stu


Year Title Role Notes
1996 Silk Stalkings Roger Episode: "Services Rendered"
Will & Grace Jack McFarland 246 episodes
2001 Rugrats Talent Show Director Voice, episode: "And the Winner Is.../Dil's Bathtime/Bigger Than Life"
2001 Scrubs Nick Murdoch Episode: "My Super Ego"
2001 Saturday Night Live Himself/host Episode: "Sean Hayes/Shaggy"
2002 Martin and Lewis Jerry Lewis[37] Television film
2006 Tom Goes to the Mayor Tour Guide Episode: "Bass Fest"
2006 Lovespring International Victor Episode: "A Rear Window"
2006 Will & Grace: Say Goodnight Gracie Jack McFarland Television film
2006–2007 Campus Ladies Marshall 2 episodes
2007 30 Rock Jesse Parcell Episode: "Hiatus"
2008 Man Stroke Woman Various Television film
2010 64th Tony Awards Host Television special
2010–2015 Hot in Cleveland Chad Episode: "One Thing or a Mother"
Also executive producer; 124 episodes
2011–2017 Grimm Executive producer; 108 episodes
2012–2016 The Soul Man Executive producer; 11 episodes
2012 Portlandia Sean Episode: "Cops Redesign"
2012 Parks and Recreation Buddy Wood Episode: "Lucky"
2012 Up All Night Walter 4 episodes
2013 Smash Terrence Falls 3 episodes
2013 American Dad! Foster Voice, episode: "Lost in Space"
2013–2014 Sean Saves the World Sean Harrison 15 episodes
Also executive producer
2013–2020 Hollywood Game Night Himself 2 episodes
Also creator, executive producer; 6 episodes
2014–2015 The Millers Kip Finkle 11 episodes
2014 The Comeback Himself Episode: "Valerie Gets What She Really Wants"
2015 The Late Late Show Himself/Guest Host 3 episodes
2016 Crowded Executive producer; 13 episodes
2016 Maya & Marty Himself/various 2 episodes
2016 An All Star Tribute to James Burrows Himself/host Television special
Also executive producer[38]
2016 Hairspray Live! Mr. Pinky Television special
2017–2020 Tangled: The Series Pete the Guard Voice, 21 episodes
2019 Live in Front of a Studio Audience Mr. Frank Lorenzo Episode: "Norman Lear's All in the Family and The Jeffersons"
2020, 2022 Jimmy Kimmel Live! Himself/host 6 episodes[39][40]
2021 Q-Force Steve Maryweather Voice, main role
2022 Murderville Santa Claus Episode: "Who Killed Santa? A Murderville Murder Mystery"
2022 Lego Masters Himself Episode: "Start Your Engines" (Cameo)


Year Title Role Notes Ref.
2008 Damn Yankees Applegate New York City Center, Encores! [41]
2010–2011 Promises, Promises Chuck Baxter Broadway Theatre, Broadway [41]
2010 64th Tony Awards Host Radio City Music Hall
2015 An Act of God God US Tour [41]
2016 Booth Theatre, Broadway [41]
2022 Good Night, Oscar Oscar Levant Goodman Theatre, Chicago
2023 Belasco Theatre, Broadway

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Production Result Ref.
2000 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Will & Grace Won [42]
2001 Nominated [43]
2002 Nominated [44]
2003 Nominated [45]
2004 Nominated [46]
2005 Nominated [47]
2006 Nominated [48]
2011 Outstanding Special Class Program 64th Tony Awards Won [49]
2000 Golden Globe Award Best Supporting Actor – Television Will & Grace Nominated
2001 Nominated
2002 Nominated
2003 Nominated
2004 Nominated
2005 Nominated
2001 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Ensemble in a Comedy Series Will & Grace Nominated
Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series Won
2002 Outstanding Ensemble in a Comedy Series Nominated
Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series Won
2003 Outstanding Ensemble in a Comedy Series Nominated
Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series Won
Outstanding Actor in a Limited Series or Movie Martin and Lewis Nominated
2004 Outstanding Ensemble in a Comedy Series Will & Grace Nominated
Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series Nominated
2005 Outstanding Ensemble in a Comedy Series Nominated
Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series Nominated
2006 Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series Won
2018 Nominated
2011 Tony Award Best Actor in a Musical Promises, Promises Nominated
2011 Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Actor in a Musical Nominated
2010 Audie Awards Audiobook of the Year Nelson Mandela's Favorite African Folktales Won [50][51]
Multi-Voiced Performance
2022 Jeff Award Performer in a Principal Role in a Play Good Night, Oscar Won [52]
2023 Tony Award Best Leading Actor in a Play Won [53]
2023 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Performance in a Play Won
2023 Drama League Award Outstanding Distinguished Performer Nominated
2023 Outer Critics Circle Awards Outstanding Lead Performer in a Broadway Play Won


  1. ^ a b c d McGee, Celia (July 6, 2008). "Selling His Soul for the Part". The New York Times. Retrieved June 11, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c "Sean Hayes Biography". Film Reference. 2008. Retrieved June 11, 2010.
  3. ^ a b "Will & Grace – Awards". IMDb. Retrieved September 28, 2018.
  4. ^ Ruiz, Tony (October 23, 2017). "Sean Hayes ('Will & Grace') deserves first Golden Globe win". GoldDerby. Retrieved September 21, 2018.
  5. ^ Wilson, Marie (January 27, 2018). "Food bank leader – mother of Sean Hayes – recalled for her dedication". Daily Herald. Arlington Heights, Illinois. Retrieved September 28, 2018.
  6. ^ a b c Keck, William (December 24, 2000). "It's Not Easy Being Jack". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on February 5, 2015. Retrieved February 4, 2015. Alt URL
  7. ^ a b Sotonoff, Jamie; Gire, Dann (January 22, 2013). "Sean Hayes, suburban pal team up for TV success". Daily Herald. Retrieved February 5, 2015.
  8. ^ a b c Sobota, Lenore (February 21, 2013). "Actor Sean Hayes, former Fairleigh Dickinson president receive honorary degrees". The Pantagraph. Bloomington, Illinois. Retrieved February 6, 2014.
  9. ^ Marshall, Corinne (2008). The Q Guide to Will and Grace: Stuff You Didn't Even Know You Wanted to Know... About Will, Grace, Jack, Karen, and Lots of Guest Stars. Alyson Publications. p. 79. ISBN 978-1-59350-083-2. In the early days of his career, he supported himself as a classical pianist.
  10. ^ a b c d Karpel, Ari (March 8, 2010). "Sean Hayes: I Am Who I Am". The Advocate. Retrieved February 22, 2014.
  11. ^ People: Almanac 2003. Cader Books. 2002. p. 380. ISBN 978-1-929049-96-7. Composed original music for a Steppenwolf production of Antigone.
  12. ^ Vetrano, Matt (May 17, 2018). "Super Recaps: Tom Goes to the Mayor (Bass Fest)". Reviewers Unite. Retrieved September 28, 2018.
  13. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (September 4, 2008). "New deal for CBS swinger". The Hollywood Reporter. Associated Press. Retrieved February 5, 2015.
  14. ^ DiNunno, Gina (May 24, 2010). "Sean Hayes to Host the Tonys". TV Guide. Retrieved June 11, 2010.
  15. ^ Kit, Borys (April 4, 2011). "Sean Hayes to Play Larry in 'Three Stooges' Movie". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 4, 2020.
  16. ^ a b Byrne, Bridget (July 21, 2006). "Oh curses, it's hard: 'Will & Grace' stars try to beat odds". The Free Lance–Star. Fredericksburg, Virginia. Associated Press. Archived from the original on October 26, 2020. Retrieved August 18, 2013. Alt URL
  17. ^ "Development Update: Eight Days a Week (The CW, New!)". The Futon Critic. March 1, 2010. Retrieved June 11, 2010.
  18. ^ "The Company". Hazy Mills Productions. Archived from the original on August 3, 2013. Retrieved August 18, 2013.
  19. ^ a b Rose, Lacey. "When Did Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner Take Over TV?". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 19, 2013.
  20. ^ Otterson, Joe (October 12, 2017). "Sean Hayes Re-Teams With 'Hot in Cleveland' Creator for Comedy in Development at NBC". Variety. Retrieved November 4, 2020.
  21. ^ Ausiello, Michael (January 28, 2011). "NBC Orders Brothers Grimm-Themed Drama From Buffy Scribe". TVLine. Retrieved October 15, 2011.
  22. ^ Kondology, Amanda (December 18, 2012). "NBC Announces Bold New Game Show 'Hollywood Game Night'". TV by the Numbers. Archived from the original on December 21, 2012. Retrieved June 11, 2013.
  23. ^ "The Kitchen Sync". YouTube. Retrieved July 13, 2017.
  24. ^ Viagas, Robert (June 6, 2016). "The Verdict: See What Critics Thought of Sean Hayes in An Act of God on Broadway". Playbill.
  25. ^ Everett, Cristina (July 28, 2017). "See the Voices Behind the Emoji Movie Characters". Entertainment Weekly.
  26. ^ Canfield, David (July 3, 2018). "Sean Hayes wrote a 'Nutcracker' prequel with his husband, and it looks adorable". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved December 2, 2019.
  27. ^ White, Peter (July 7, 2020). "Jason Bateman, Will Arnett & Sean Hayes Launch 'Smartless' Podcast". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 29, 2021.
  28. ^ Mazziotta, Julie (May 3, 2021). "Sean Hayes and Dr. Priyanka Wali Explore Celebrities' Health Issues on New Podcast Hypochondriactor". People. Retrieved June 29, 2021.
  29. ^ "Review: Sean Hayes is a revelation in 'Good Night, Oscar' at Goodman Theatre. Broadway is surely next". Chicago Tribune. March 22, 2022. Retrieved June 1, 2023.
  30. ^ Christian Lewis (April 25, 2023). "'Good Night, Oscar' Review: Sean Hayes Gives a Bravura Performance as Late-Night TV Virtuoso". Variety Media. Retrieved May 1, 2023.
  31. ^ Jesse Green (April 24, 2023). "'Good Night, Oscar' Review: Sean Hayes With Demerol and Cadenzas". The New York Times. Archived from the original on April 25, 2023. Retrieved May 1, 2023.
  32. ^ Host: Terry Gross (April 29, 2010). "'Will And Grace' Star Sean Hayes Steps To Broadway". Fresh Air (Interview: audio/transcript). NPR. WHYY-FM. Retrieved June 11, 2010.
  33. ^ Sieczkowski, Cavan (November 20, 2014). "Sean Hayes Marries Longtime Partner Scott Icenogle". The Huffington Post. Retrieved November 20, 2014.
  34. ^ Schaffstall, Katherine (October 25, 2017). "Sean Hayes Was Hospitalized After His Small Intestine Burst". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 26, 2017.
  35. ^ Beltran, Mary C.; Fojas, Camilla (August 1, 2008). Mixed Race Hollywood. NYU Press. p. 118. ISBN 978-0-8147-9989-5.
  36. ^ Rosen, Ronald; Hornberger, Francine (2006). So You Think You Know about Cats?: An All-in-one Guide for Felines and Their Humans. Citadel. p. 35. ISBN 978-0-8065-2749-9.
  37. ^ Rowan, Terry (January 17, 2012). World War II Goes to the Movies & Television Guide Volume II L-Z. p. 21. ISBN 978-1-105-46543-7.
  38. ^ "Must See TV: An All-Star Tribute to James Burrows". NBC. Retrieved February 22, 2016.
  39. ^ Guest Host Sean Hayes on Vaccine Hesitancy, Making Out with Julie Bowen & A Big Honeymoon Surprise, retrieved June 21, 2022
  40. ^ "Jimmy Kimmel Live's first guest host of the summer starts tonight". Last Night On. June 20, 2022. Retrieved June 21, 2022.
  41. ^ a b c d "Sean Hayes Theatre Credits". BroadwayWorld. Retrieved July 13, 2017.
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  43. ^ "53rd Primetime Emmy Awards". Retrieved February 1, 2023.
  44. ^ "54th Primetime Emmy Awards". Retrieved February 1, 2023.
  45. ^ "55th Primetime Emmy Awards". Retrieved February 1, 2023.
  46. ^ "56th Primetime Emmy Awards". Retrieved February 1, 2023.
  47. ^ "57th Primetime Emmy Awards". Retrieved February 1, 2023.
  48. ^ "58th Primetime Emmy Awards". Retrieved February 1, 2023.
  49. ^ "59th Primetime Emmy Awards". Retrieved February 1, 2023.
  50. ^ "2010 audie-awards".
  51. ^ "Mandelas Favorite Folktales – Performers". August 3, 2020.
  52. ^ "2022 Jeff Equity Awards Nominees/Winners". September 19, 2022.
  53. ^ "Good Night, Oscar". June 11, 2023.

Further reading