‘Will & Grace’s Debra Messing Teases the ‘I Love Lucy’ Transformations

Will & Grace Debra Messing
Chris Haston/NBC

The Will & Grace crew have long wanted to pay tribute to Lucille Ball‘s classic sitcom I Love Lucy. “The wacky redhead, the stable partner and the two neighbors — that foursome was baked into [our] show’s DNA,” executive producer David Kohan says.

Now, they finally get their chance with an episode that re-creates three of Lucy‘s most infamous moments. Here’s how they pulled it off.

The Concept

Will & Grace cast I Love Lucy

(Credit: Chris Haston/NBC)

At the start of the half hour, Will (Eric McCormack) tells Grace (Debra Messing) that living with her is sometimes like being in an I Love Lucy episode. Together with Jack (Sean Hayes) and Karen (Megan Mullally), they debate who resembles Ball’s iconic screwball most.

“Will happily identifies as Ricky. The other three all think they’re Lucy,” Kohan says. Messing portrays Lucy hawking Vitameatavegamin, Hayes works in the chocolate factory, and Mullally stomps grapes.

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The Transformations

Will & Grace cast I Love Lucy Episode

(Credit: Dave Bjerke/NBC)

Messing admits she got emotional looking in the mirror and seeing Ball, her “all-time hero,” staring back at her. “It took about three hours, including the fake nails,” she says, praising the work of key makeup artist Elaine Offers and hairstylist Darlene Brumfield. “They each deserve Emmys!”

To play Lucy’s neighbor Fred Mertz in one of the setup scenes, Messing spent four-and-a-half hours in the chair. “We worked with the best prosthetic makeup artists in the business. They did Star Wars, so it wasn’t just putting on a bald cap. They put individual hairs all over my head. I was floored.”

Will & Grace, Thursdays, 9:30/8:30c, NBC