Hayes attended Illinois State University, where he studied piano performance and conducting. He left before graduating and in 1995 moved to Los Angeles to begin his stand-up and acting career. Hayes made his film debut in 1998's Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss and was soon cast as an unemployed actor in the hit series Will & Grace.
In 2008, Hayes made his New York stage debut as Mr. Applegate/Devil in New York City Center's production of Damn Yankees and will star in the 2010 Broadway revival of Promises, Promises.
Sean Hayes Comes Out
Sean Hayes revealed he was gay in a March, 2010 interview for The Advocate. "I feel like I’ve contributed monumentally to the success of the gay movement in America," Hayes said. "And if anyone wants to argue that, I’m open to it. You’re welcome, Advocate!"
Gay Actors "Playing Straight"
Can gay actors play straight? In a 2010 critical essay, Hayes was singled out by Newsweek associate editor Ramin Setoodeh as an example of why gay actors fail at playing straight characters. Setoodeh, an openly gay man himself, wrote that Hayes is best known as the queeny Jack on (NBC sitcom) 'Will & Grace,' and that his "sexual orientation" is "part of who he is" and seeing him "play straight" in the Broadway production is "weird" because he "comes off as wooden and insincere, like he's trying to hide something, which of course he is."
Promises co-star Kristin Chenoweth quickly came to Hayes defense, calling Setoodeh's opine homophobic.
Hayes Hosts The Tony's
Not only did he host the 2010 Tony Awards, but Sean Hayes was nominated for best actor in a musical for his role in "Promises, Promises" alongside Kristin Chenoweth.