While Double, Double, Toil and Trouble may be an iconic and nostalgic Halloween movie for fans who saw it while growing up, Eric McCormack — who starred in it as the Olsen twins' father — has never seen it.
It's been almost 30 years since the Will & Grace alum played Don Farmer in ABC's made-for-TV Halloween movie starring Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. And while he admits to EW that he plans to finally watch it for the first time now that it's streaming as part of Hulu's Halloween-themed Huluween programming, he still remembers that movie having a big impact on his career in a surprising way.
"What was interesting about it now that I look back is that it was definitely the first time I played a dad, because I would have only been 30 when we shot that movie," McCormack tells EW exclusively. "It just hadn't come up yet. I had played a lot of scheming young business guys, but this was my first dad role. I remember it led to me calling my agent saying, 'I don't want to be a dad yet! I can't start playing dads all the time, I'm 30.' So it probably pushed me out of the hot dad spectrum for a few years."
Below, McCormack trick-or-treats down memory lane and tells EW his favorite memories from filming that Halloween classic with the Olsen twins, Cloris Leachman, and more.
Everett Collection Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen in 'Double, Double, Toil and Trouble.'
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: After all these years, of all the projects we could be talking about right now, did you ever expect to be talking about Double, Double, Toil and Trouble?
ERIC MCCORMACK: [Laughs] Always happy to talk about movies I did 30 years ago! It doesn't make a man feel young. And I didn't even know if it had a life anymore. I'd expected a Christmas movie or two to have lives, but I didn't know people were watching Double, Double.
It's such an iconic Halloween movie that, for millennials especially, was so formative. And now that it's streaming, new generations can discover it.
Fantastic. I just wish I had better hair in it.
It's funny you say that because the internet loves to talk about all the Olsen twins' hot movie dads through the years, and you were one of their first. Have you ever heard about this?
I have never really been asked about being their hot movie dad. No, I love that! I'm really all for that, whatever club I'm in that's called "hot movie dad." [Laughs] At the time, I had the same hair for several years in a row and I'd get some new job and I'd think, "I'm sure they'll cut it for this show," and they wouldn't cut it. It went all the way to Will & Grace. In the pilot of Will & Grace, I have this same longish hair and it was like, "Will someone cut my hair for me?!" It finally happened later. Who else is a hot movie dad for the Olsen twins?
Tom Amandes, Eric Lutes, Matt McCoy… it's a small but very exclusive club.
[Laughs] I love that. Two years earlier in Toronto, I'd done a play and I had to have glasses, so I got to keep the glasses and I just kept using those glasses whenever I could. Every audition, I'd go in thinking, I'm going to wear glasses because you never see that. So I wore them in the movie, those same glasses in that movie that I'd worn in about a dozen other television things.
The glasses and the hair were a winning combo, clearly. Back when you first joined the movie, did you have any idea it would become such a cult favorite that you'd be talking about all these years later?
No! I mean, it was a TV movie, and TV movies at the time didn't hang around, to my knowledge. I did something for Christmas a couple of years later that kept being rebroadcast every year, but no, this was something that aired once and just sort of seemed to kind of go away so I'm surprised when people, usually younger people than me, come up and that's the thing they want to talk about. It always happens more than I ever thought it would.
Warner Bros. Eric McCormack in 'Double, Double, Toil and Trouble.'
This movie was very early on in the Olsen twins' careers, so what was your take on these two really young child actors before you got to work with them?
I was a theater guy myself really, and I was just starting in television so I worked nights. I hadn't watched Full House, let's put it that way. So they were new to me. Years later, [John] Stamos and I were both involved in the same Broadway show and I said, "You know, we both play their [family]." He said, "Yeah, I did it a little longer." I said, "Fair enough. I think I was their dad only two-and-a-half weeks." But they were adorable and incredibly well-behaved and sweet. I think they were still 8 at the time, maybe 7, I can't remember, but they were fantastic. I ran into them many, many years later, during Will & Grace, and they said, "We love your show," and I said, "Oh, I love that you're international fashion billionaires." [Laughs] It was kind of amazing to see them as grown-ups.
How did they surprise you during filming?
What was so fun is that they were playing the same character on Full House, right? And now they actually got to be twins. I think that they were having fun with each other in a lot of those scenes. And they knew their lines and they were just little professionals. But we were very aware of who they were. I mean, I remember having driving scenes with Kelli [Fox, who played their mom] and I just kept thinking, "I've got the Olsen twins in the backseat. Like, I could change the course of humanity if I don't drive properly here."
It's a good thing you drove safely.
[Laughs] I know, right? But the girls were mostly with their mom and manager, and we didn't really chat a whole lot to be honest. It was Cloris Leachman — I wanted to hang out more with her but she was very much in witch mode. I think she quite enjoyed playing that part. I remember this one day, this was back in the days when people smoked a lot and people smoked on sets. I was standing outside of the makeup trailer and I think I was smoking with somebody and Cloris whipped out of the makeup trailer in full witch makeup and said, "Who's smoking?! Put that out!" We ran away like we were Hansel and Gretel.
That's incredible. Cloris definitely seemed like she was having the most fun in every scene playing both Aunt Agatha and Aunt Sophia.
Oh, she totally was. It was early summer of '93, and we had some great house somewhere in Shaughnessy in Vancouver that looked like an old, haunted house and she was running up and down the stairs. Quite a character.
Did you keep in contact with any of the cast after filming?
I did not. I don't think I saw Kelli Fox for another 20 years, honestly. We ran into each other at some theater event in Vancouver. I did see Cloris once because there was an event, the Nick at Nite Awards, and they were honoring the entire cast of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. And I surprised them, I sang a song called "Mary," which included the mentions of all the characters. Afterwards, they all came back and I got to see Cloris again and I think I reminded her that we'd done a Halloween movie together. My favorite memory of that is Ed Asner, the late great Ed Asner came up and saw me and he took my face in his hands and he said in that growl, "You! You made an old man cry." [Laughs] It was pretty awesome.
Have you ever gone back and watched Double, Double, Toil and Trouble?
I've got to be honest, I never have. I'm going to this year. I'm going to go to my Hulu account and watch it finally. [Laughs] But no, I never have. It's hard to go back and see... certain looks. And also, I was probably a year-and-a-half into television, so I was still trying to adapt my stage acting to the camera. Maybe I was terrified to go back and watch it.
Wow, I'm excited to see what you think of it 30 years later.
[Laughs] So am I.