The NBC series, which originally ran from 1998-2006 and returned in the fall of 2017 for three seasons, wrapped its final episode in December. “That was probably the last time I cried,” he tells PEOPLE. “It was really, really sad.”
Hayes, 49, revealed the cast was even more emotional seeing the last shot of the episode. “It’s just an empty apartment,” he adds. “The only thing left is a couch.”
But there was one moment that has really stayed with the actor. “The thing that made me cry the most was during the last take with Jimmy Burrows, who was like my dad, and directed every episode,” says Hayes. “We did the scene and he goes, ‘I hate to say it, but cut.’ Everybody just lost it.”
“And that’s a wrap from Stage 22 on the backlot of Universal Studios,” he wrote. “What a glorious end to an amazing experience. Thanks to all of the fans. This was all for you.”
As for mementos, Hayes jokes that he only took “a roll of toilet paper from my dressing room,” but does still have a painting from Will’s apartment during the first run of the series.
“It wasn’t ‘the guy,’ which was mentioned in about three episodes. I took one off of the wall a bit further back in the apartment that sometimes the cameras wasn’t on,” he says. “But I pretty much just leave things after a project because I don’t have any more space in my house for anything else.”
Hayes will next star in the upcoming comedy Lazy Susan, which he co-wrote as well.