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Eleven years since we said goodbye (South African fans originally waved goodbye in 2007 and hello again in 2018), BFFs Will Truman (Eric McCormack) and Grace Adler (Debra Messing) are still sharing that New York apartment in the revival of comedy series Will & Grace (1998 – current).
But since Grace is an interior designer and Will is no slouch, things must change as much as they stay the same. Production designer Glenda Rovello (who’s been with the series since Season 1) and set decorator Peter Gurski had to keep the apartment familiar enough to spark recognition but different enough to feel realistic. “We assumed that Grace would be helping Will with all the upgrades in his apartment. So while making choices, we decided we almost owed it to the fans to do a super upgrade,” says Peter.
A familiar feeling
The original sets were still on hand for Glenda and Peter to reference. “We had everything from the original set because it had been on display at Emerson College (in Boston) for about ten years,” explains Peter. “We had the chance to look at what could be better and what could stay. We decided we wanted to update everything. Some of the really iconic pieces, like the ornate antique secretary (writing desk) that’s on the back wall of Will’s apartment, we kept. The dining room table – which is really the perfect size for that space – we kept and refinished it,” Peter adds.
The designers also kept Will’s original collection of Japanese teapots and fireplace tools. And Glenda paid attention to subtle similarities too. “Everything is still in the same place or at least has the same spatial relationship,” she reveals. Peter adds, “Glenda kept the entire back wall of the original set and we followed the same floorplan as the original set. Because we wanted the fans to have some touchstones.”
The familiar was balanced out with the new, and Peter and Glenda paid attention to which trend items a successful, established lawyer like Will would covet, and bought them for the remodel – the real thing, because these days fans pause and zoom on anything they like.
“Will would have an Hermés bench, so Max (series creator Max Mutchnick) made it happen. We now have a spectacular Hermés bench and we’re so happy to have it,” says Glenda. The bench turned out to be the most expensive new addition to the set, at $20 000 (R282 760). Peter adds, “I didn’t have to get a Joseph Jeup sofa, we could have put in anything there. But we felt we owed it to the fans to show that his (Will’s) status had gone up and she (Grace) had become a bigger designer. These all had to be informed choices in order to create a beautiful environment for her dear friend Will.”
Art & design
Will’s art curation has always given us apartment envy, so Glenda and Peter made sure to pay attention to what and who he could realistically get his hands on. Viewers should look out for one spectacular new addition – a piece by acclaimed photographer and gay rights advocate Herb Ritts.
“Through Max’s husband Erik Hyman, with the help of the Herb Ritts Foundation, we have a Herb Ritts authorised piece that now sits on the dining room credenza against the wall, between the kitchen and dining area,” says Peter. And one essential art piece has returned – Will’s iconic portrait of a man by an anonymous artist, but as a copy. “Max now has the original, so we have a copy on set. I think it strikingly looks like Eric McCormack. He likes to deny it,” reveals Peter.
As for the Grace Adler Designs set, expect a complete makeover. Grace has moved up in the world – as reflected in her space, which is now twice its original size and a lot swankier. “To have her space doubled and have more people working for her and have the luxury of a private office is a huge expansion and a reflection of the success she has accrued over the last 11 years,” says Debra.
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