‘Big Boobs’: Network Head Had Specific Instructions for Debra Messing on ‘Will & Grace’
On her first fitting for Will & Grace, NBC costumers “had the chicken cutlets to make me bigger,” says Debra Messing, referring to a stuffed-bra trick to make her appear more top-heavy than reality dictated. “I just wasn’t a fan of like the whole idea of it.”
Messing, speaking at an “Impact of Will & Grace: 25 Years Later” event earlier this week, was told that the president of NBC wanted Grace Adler to “have big boobs.” (NBC had two presidents in 1998, so your guess is as good as ours which one dictated the decree.) “I was like, ‘You know what? I don’t need that,’" Messing says. “And they’re like, ‘Well, it’s the president of the network.’ And I said, ‘If he wants it, then he needs to come here and tell me to my face.’”
Back in 2007, Messing told a panel at the Tribeca Film Festival that she wore the silicon enhancements for the pilot, then ditched them once the show was picked up. “I actually like the idea that she’s completely flat-chested,” she said. “I think there’s comedy in that.”
And there was. During Will & Grace’s initial run, boob jokes were constant, contrasting Karen’s more generous proportions with Grace’s lack thereof. Karen was often the one making the jokes, pointing out the sizable difference between her honeydews and Grace’s honey-don’ts. Glamour even did a compilation of Grace boob gags, including an entire episode devoted to a — wait for it — a ridiculous enhanced bra. Art imitates life.
We can debate the merits of several jokes at the expense of Grace’s minimal cleavage, but at least Messing got to have it her way. If NBC had successfully foisted their falsies on her, the jokes would have been of a different nature. But Messing’s decision to lose the “chicken cutlets” wasn’t entirely without consequence. “We shot three episodes, and then I was called to my executive producer’s office, who sat me down and said, ‘We got a call from the president of NBC, and he said, “What happened to her boobs?’”