Why Hollywood Won't Cast Debra Messing Anymore

Debra Messing rose to prominence as Grace Adler on the groundbreaking sitcom Will & Grace in the late '90s, winning an Emmy Award for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series in 2003. When the iconic pop culture machine went off the air in 2006, the actress was at the top of her game, but while she's scored a number of roles since then, including the 2017 Will & Grace reboot, her career hasn't sky-rocketed as much as we expected. So, let's answer the question on everyone's minds: why won't Hollywood cast Messing anymore?

Smash was canceled

Messing starred in the short-lived musical drama Smash as Broadway lyricist Julia Houston in 2012. The "Let Me Be Your Star" show premiered with high ratings and favorable reviews, but viewership plummeted quickly, and the series was unceremoniously canceled during its second season in 2013. Let's face it: the show was well-loved among theatre nerds, but it was a flop with the masses. Even creator Theresa Rebeck, who left the show after its first season, called it "a complete disaster." 

She's had major relationship drama

When Messing and her husband of 10 years, producer Daniel Zelman, announced their separation in December 2011, the timing of the split seemed a little shady. "The decision was mutual, and they remain supportive of one another and committed to raising their son as a family," Messing's rep said in a statement at the time. 

But cheating rumors circulated after a People source confirmed that the actress had been dating her Smash co-star, Will Chase. "It all happened very fast and it's a difficult situation," the insider said. 

Messing and Chase called it quits two-and-a-half years later, yet her divorce with Zelman wasn't finalized until March 2016.

She's an outspoken activist

Messing was so inspired by the visibility impact Will & Grace had on the LGBTQ community, that she decided to channel much of her energy into activism instead of the Tinseltown scene. 

According to her Makers profile, she's an outspoken supporter of several organizations, such as the Human Rights Campaign, the Joyful Heart Foundation, and Everytown for Gun Safety. In 2009, the actress became a Global Ambassador for PSI, promoting HIV/AIDS awareness and visiting HIV prevention programs in Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Zambia. This was her "soul work," she told PSI in 2017, adding, "If I can use my voice to help push things forward, then it's my privilege to use it."

Her return to film was a flop

Messing appeared alongside Leighton Meester, Billie Joe Armstrong, and Julian Shatkin in the Frank Whaley-directed Like Sunday, Like Rain, which marked her return to the big screen after a nearly ten-year hiatus. But the 2014 coming of age flick saw only a limited release and failed to make waves in the indie film festival circuit. With a lukewarm 65 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the movie garnered mixed reviews. The New York Times called it "a well-played character study whose subtlety is marred by a grating caricature of a role for Debra Messing as Reggie's entitled, brusque, inattentive mother."

She returned to the stage

Messing further distanced herself from Hollywood in 2014 and made an impressive Broadway debut in Outside Mullingar. She portrayed Rosemary, a middle-aged Irish farmer, in the John Patrick Shanley play. As she told Broadway World at the time, working on Smash "certainly reignited my passion [for] Broadway and live theatre," adding, "I'm terribly anxious but in the best possible way. This is [a] dream come true for me." 

In this case, Messing had no reason to be anxious. The show was a hit, earning rave reviews and scoring a Tony nomination for best play.

Being a single mom keeps her busy

Messing and her ex welcomed their son, Roman, in 2004, and while she loves being a mom, it isn't always easy. 

"It's much harder than I anticipated it being," she told The Huffington Post in 2014. "I think one of the biggest challenges is not criticizing myself for not being more of a full-time mom. I never spend enough time with my son... But there is the reality that I have to work."

When Messing and her son do spend quality time together, their adventures are often shared on her Instagram feed, whether its taking in a hit Broadway show or goofing around with filters. As the proud mom captioned one sweet snapshot: "Honestly, nothing better."

Her allergies affected her career

Messing has a ton of allergies—dairy, gluten, whitefish, wool, cats, flowers, and more. Her condition is so severe, it actually impacted her professional life. "My allergies would take away from my feelings of self-confidence at work," she told Gluten Free & More in 2014. "I was always worrying that suddenly my eyes would start weeping or I'd be sneezy." 

Thankfully, medication helps her keep her condition under control. The actress partnered with Zyrtec, which she credits for saving her career. As she told The Huffington Post, it "helps me be the person that I want to be."

She ruffled feathers with her politics

During the 2016 election, Messing threw her support behind democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and even spoke at the Democratic National Convention. Messing made headlines when she and fellow actress Susan Sarandon hashed out their political differences on social media. 

According to The Huffington Post, their infamous argument began when Sarandon, a Bernie Sanders supporter, said she was "going to see what happens" when asked if she would support Clinton over republican candidate Donald Trump. Messing was one of the first celebs to call her out, tweeting: "Susan Sarandon muses tht Trump prezcy wud b better 4 the country thn Hillary. Wonder if she'd say that if she were poor, gay, Muslim or immgrnt."

The feud escalated quickly...

Their political tiff got personal

In response to Messing's harsh tweet, Sarandon hit back with: "[Hillary] is not protective till it's easy. Bernie makes morally correct choices when unpopular," adding, "it is a dilemma" for "first-time voters."

"You are not a first time voter. Your position, as a life long advocate 4 the underepresented, is what matters to me," Messing arguedadding, "Your voice is powerful and influential. You not clearly disavowing Trump implies that u consider him (vs Hillary)."

Messing called Sarandon out again at a Clinton-hosted LGBTQ event. "@SusanSarandon Where are you?!" she captioned an Instagram snapshot of herself with talk show host Rosie O'Donnell. "Hillary's asking for you! Rosie covered, said you were in the bathroom."

We're all for spirited political discourse, but mean-spirited snark can sometimes overshadow one's professional attributes.

The Mysteries of Laura tanked

Messing starred as Detective Laura Diamond in the police procedural dramedy The Mysteries of Laura in 2014. Although the show maintained steady ratings throughout its run, the series was panned by critics, receiving a brutal 23 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. "Despite a talented cast, The Mysteries of Laura is dated both as a cop show and as a representation of single, working mothers," the website said. 

While the actress' performance was generally praised, with writer Emilie Aries calling it "the best depiction of women on the small screen," this was yet another Messing-led project that failed to get off the ground. It was canceled after two seasons in 2016.

She was criticized for a gun safety selfie

Despite her best intentions, Messing stirred major controversy when she shared a gun safety selfie following a tragic murder-suicide shooting in June 2017. "HORRENDOUS Watching news about shooting at UCLA with casualties while taking selfie 2bring awareness to Gun Violence," she captioned a black-and-white snapshot of herself wearing an orange t-shirt.

After the actress was slammed for her poor timing, she deleted the photo and apologized in a text post. The selfie was "part of a predetermined day of advocacy whose goal is to bring awareness to gun violence in America," Messing wrote in the wake of the backlash, adding, "I am heartbroken and embarrassed that many people misconstrued my actions and that I caused offense."

She starred in the Dirty Dancing remake no one wanted

In 2016, ABC announced its musical remake of the 1987 classic Dirty Dancing, casting Messing as Marjorie Houseman, Baby's mother. 

"The offer just came in. I read the script and loved it," the actress told Haute Living

The only problem? Pretty much no one else wanted the remake to begin with. "ABC's bloated, unconvincingly musical remake has no reason to exist," a critic for The Hollywood Reporter wrote, adding that "nobody is likely to truly enjoy" it. Even Messing's performance failed to impress, as the critic noted, "I didn't buy the expanded arc for Messing's character at all, but she plays it decently."

She started shilling weight-loss products

In 2017, Messing fit a new role into her busy schedule as the global brand ambassador for CoolSculpting, a non-surgical fat-reduction treatment. 

"I never stop. I work all the time," she told E! News. "Here's something that you literally just walk into your dermatologist's office and they put something on my belly for an hour and then you put your clothes back on and you walk out the door and then a couple of months later [the fat] is gone."

"I'm still naturally a slim person but I had a baby and it's like I exercised but that little bit of fat is not going away," the actress explained, adding, "I'm already seeing changes."

The media has been horrible about her appearance

It's no secret that Hollywood and the media often objectify women and serve up terrible critiques, especially as they age. In 2017, the National Enquirer ran a shocking piece about Messing's supposed "health crisis" as the actress, then 48, "packs on the pounds."

According to the gossip rag's "medical expert," Messing had gained "at least 20 pounds" since her Will & Grace days. The article alleged she was the "perfect example of an American doing everything wrong with her health. We don't know her diet, but it's clear it's not a healthy one, given her ever-increasing weight," which "greatly increased her risk of premature heart attack or even death."

Wow. Why would a celeb even want to pursue the Hollywood spotlight if it leads to ridiculous press like this?

How she's turning it around

When Will & Grace finally received its long-overdue revival in 2017, Messing and her castmates, Eric McCormack, Sean Hayes, and Megan Mullally, seemed just as excited as the rest of us for their highly-anticipated return to the small screen.

"We have so much to say in [today's polarizing sociopolitical climate] the only way we can say it," Messing told E! News. "Which is always putting the funny first but also always commenting on what is happening in politics and pop culture and social norms."

The series was well-received following its September 2017 premiere, and even earned two Golden Globe Award nominations, including best television comedy. 

"We reunited after 11 years, which was kind of crazy, and we have loved every minute of it," Messing wrote on Instagram. "It's so gratifying to know that the show is resonating with people."

The actress spent the previous decade expanding her resume to varying success, but it looks like Will & Grace has finally put Messing right back where she started—at the top of her game!