Paying His Dues
A native of Scarborough, Ontario (where his high school classmates included future SNL legend Mike Myers), McCormack got his professional start at the legendary Stratford Shakespeare Festival. After five seasons there, McCormack moved to Los Angeles in the early '90s, where he quickly graduated from the usual embarrassing small roles to only slightly less embarrassing larger roles, such as playing Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's father in one of their pre-teen TV movies.
Will and Grace: The Breakthrough
A few years after losing the role of Friends' Ross Geller to David Schwimmer, McCormack gained his not-quite-overnight success opposite Debra Messing as one of the stars of the NBC sitcom Will and Grace. Despite the show's solid ratings, it attracted controversy from several quarters. Some complained that any depiction of homosexuals on television was offensive, while others felt that the role of Will Truman should have been played by a gay actor. In today's television landscape, where openly gay actors like Neil Patrick Harris, Jane Lynch and Jim Parsons play straight characters on sitcoms after decades of rationalizations that audiences wouldn't be able to separate the actors' lives from their characters', that complaint seems almost quaint.
The Show That Keeps On Giving
In fact, the series is often credited not just with changing television depictions of gay people, but with reshaping societal views on homosexuality. Last May on Meet the Press, Vice-President Joe Biden said, "I think Will and Grace did more to educate the American public more than almost anything anybody has done so far. People fear that which is different. Now they're beginning to understand." That interview led, only days later, to President Barack Obama affirming his own support for gay marriage, a landmark shift in the topic's evolving debate.
Back To The Boards
After Will and Grace ended in 2006, McCormack went off the radar a bit. His 2009 comedy-drama Trust Me (set at an advertising agency and co-starring Tom Cavanagh as his brother, which is phenomenally good casting) was canceled after one season despite decent reviews. Occasional guest roles and TV movies followed, but during this period, McCormack returned to his first love, live theater. This culminated in his Broadway performance in a well-received revival of Gore Vidal's 1960 political drama The Best Man.
Bringing Back The Charm
McCormack's return to series television as Perception's Dr. Daniel Pierce, a brilliant, crime-solving neuroscientist who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, puts his dry wit into a considerably less urbane character than he normally plays. Though the show itself is a familiar eccentric-genius police procedural, somewhere roughly between Bones and Monk, McCormack is his usual charming self. His interaction with co-stars Rachael Leigh Cook as Pierce's FBI contact and Arjay Smith as his put-upon teaching assistant is particularly good. Perception won't change the face of cable drama, but it's proof of how a good actor can elevate pedestrian material.