Madonna refused to wear the costumes provided for her when she taped an episode of Will & Grace back in 2003, according to executive producer Gary Janetti.
The Queen of Pop appeared on Season 5 of the hit show as part of the promotional campaign for her album American Life. The episode, which drew almost 18 million viewers, was titled “Dolls and Dolls.” In it, Madonna played Liz, Karen’s (Megan Mullally) messy roommate.
Speaking to the “Behind the Velvet Rope with David Yontef” podcast, Janetti recalls: “[She’s] like an executive secretary, the kind of woman who wears her sneakers on the subway and carries her shoes in her bag and goes to a happy hour after work and thinks she’s kind of like, you know, a big deal in her tiny office.”
“So she was supposed to wear, you know, Anne Klein II suits with sneakers and be the kind of woman you’d see on the subway. And Madonna as that is very funny … but Madonna didn’t want to wear any of those clothes.”
Madonna… being difficult… about her wardrobe?? We don’t believe it for a second!
Janetti goes on to say that the singer, who was “at the height of her fame” at the time, brought her own wardrobe and glam team to set.
The producer adds that he wasn’t sure if she had “a particularly good sense of humor” and so he ultimately concluded that asking her to wear her character’s pre-selected wardrobe “wasn’t a conversation that was going to happen.”
“So, she looked fabulous,” he says, “but as a result, it was about 50 percent less funny than it should have been.”
“We even had jokes we had to change because of what Karen said — maybe based on what she was wearing — [because it] didn’t make sense anymore,” Janetti continues. “I mean, she looked like Madonna. She looked like a rich, fabulous celebrity, which wasn’t what the character was.”
“But,” he adds, “she was game when she was on the show, and she was also funny.”
In 2017, while promoting the Will & Grace reboot, Mullally told Jimmy Kimmel that Madonna was easy to work with despite being a little, um, disinterested in her co-stars.
“Madonna was very cool,” she recalled. “I thought she was really nice and really present. She worked really hard and she wasn’t a prima donna.”
“But,” she added, “she didn’t necessarily know our real names in real life because why should she, who cares? Some of the cast were really offended, like, ‘She doesn’t even know my name!’ and I was like, ‘Who cares? Madonna’s doing our show! It doesn’t matter.’”
When asked by Kimmell whether Madonna would be like, “Hi Will, Hi Grace”, Mullally replied: “Yeah, kinda, yeah, yeah, yeah. But in a nice way. She doesn’t need to know our names, for crying out loud. She’s doing our show! Who cares?”
In 2006, Entertainment Weekly ranked Madonna’s guest spot as their number ten most memorable guest appearance on Will & Grace.