American actor Megan Mullally is best known for her role as Karen Walker on the hit sitcom Will & Grace, for which she won two Emmys. She has also starred in many Broadway shows, including Grease, How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying, and Young Frankenstein. Mullally was in Australia last week to perform An Evening with Megan Mullally at the Sydney Theatre. The 54-year-old chatted to Kate Waterhouse about her hit character and the pressures to perform.
Do you still have many fans from Will & Grace?
Yes, I still get a lot of fans. It's nice. I'm very grateful and appreciative of that.
Are you anything like your character, Karen?
I would love to say, ''Yes, I'm exactly like her,'' because that is what fans want to hear, but I'm really not much like her. I'm really nice to everybody - I'm a horrible people-pleaser - where Karen couldn't give a flying you-know-what about what anybody thought.
Do people get a shock when they realise you're so different?
Yes, they do. First of all, I've lost 30 pounds [14 kilograms] since Will & Grace, and people are like, ''You're so tiny,'' and sometimes I tell them I've lost weight, but sometimes it's not the right circumstance so I just play it off and say, ''The camera adds 10 pounds!''
People must expect you to be funny. Do you feel the pressure to always perform?
Yes, people are so primed for me to be hilariously funny that I don't even have to do anything. I've had people come up and say hi and I'll be like, ''Hi, how are you doing?'' and they just burst out laughing as if I just did something hilarious.
Do you ever jump into your old character for your fans?
No, I get embarrassed to do that. I feel shy and I feel that I can't.
We assume performers don't get shy but you obviously do.
It may seem like I'm not but I am. I have learnt to be very social but I'm not a performer who likes to be on all the time and show off. If I'm getting paid to do a job then I will bring it out, but just not in everyday life.
Did you know from a young age you were destined to be a performer?
As a small child I was very shy and I had barely spoken, but then when I was three - I remember it so vividly - I was at my grandparents' house and they were downstairs with my parents and a couple of their friends and I was upstairs and I just remember thinking, ''It's time.'' I was watching Bozo the Clown at the time and I took a deep breath and raced down the stairs. I stopped where all the people were and threw my arms to the side and I screamed out, ''Ladies and gentlemen, introducing the world's greatest clown,'' and I proceeded to go into my act. It was weird because I hadn't really ever thought about [performing] at all. It just came to me that it was time to announce to the world that this was how it was going to be.
What is the strangest thing a fan has done?
Come to my house and try and videotape through the windows of me in my nightgown and then put it on YouTube and post on Facebook: ''OMG, I just went to Megan Mullally's place and just kissed her front steps.'' You read that and you're like, ''Oh god, I don't want to know. This is terrible.'' Also, people asking me to sign their boobs and I'm like, ''No'' and they are like, ''Why not?'' and I say, ''Um, where do I start?'' Stuff like that but nothing bad. When a show goes into syndication, that is when it turns. Our show was on network television and it was popular but when a show goes into syndication and it's on four times a day, forget it - everybody now has seen it!
Does your husband, [Parks and Recreation actor] Nick Offerman, have to cope with it?
Oh yeah, he has gone through the same trajectory. I see him go through all the same steps that I went through. We have the same take on things.
Do you prefer to perform on stage or TV?
I like whatever is good. You can be on a TV show but if it's not a good one, it's not fun. In the same way, you can be on a Broadway show but if it's not fun and the people aren't fun to work with, then it's not good. But I try to stay open to everything.
WE WENT TO The Darling, Pyrmont.
WE ATE A high tea with an assortment of sandwiches, cakes and fruit.
WE DRANK English breakfast tea.
MEGAN WORE Maje skirt, Topshop boots, a vintage jacket and top.