#Movies & TV
Modern Family Cast Secrets Every Fan Should Know
by More.com Editors
Since the show’s debut in 2009, Modern Family has racked up an amazing 100 awards and more than 250 award nominations. And though we love the show’s crazy characters, there’s no doubt that this talented cast deserves the kudos for bringing those personalities to life. As we head into the show’s 7th season, brush up on your Modern Family cast trivia with this compilation of fun facts on every Family member.
Ed Was Nearly Football-Famous
In 1969, after playing football at Youngstown State University, Ed O’Neill was signed to the Pittsburgh Steelers as an undrafted free agent but was released before the regular season began. According to O’Neill during a 2011 appearance on Inside the Actors Studio, he went to a local bar to drown his sorrows and saw Neil Armstrong taking his first steps on the moon. “Looking up, I thought, ‘Well, someone had a good day.'”
Stonestreet Is “Gay for Pay”
Eric Stonestreet, who plays gay character Cameron on the show, isn’t actually gay. He joking described himself as “openly straight” during an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show. “I never thought this would be the character that people would know me for, but it’s just an honor to play him,” he said. Costar Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who is gay, playfully calls Stonestreet “gay for pay.”
Stonestreet Is a Lady Killer!
In the summer of 2015, Stonestreet was romantically linked with Real Housewives of New York City star Bethenny Frankel. Frankel commented on the Today show, “I am dating, and I am having a really good time.” It’s not clear if the two are really a couple, however. Neither has confirmed the rumor.
Sofia and Gloria Both Citizens!
Originally from Colombia, Vergara became a United States citizen in 2014, which she talked about during her December 2014 appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!. In 2015, during season 6 of the show, her character, Gloria, also went through the citizenship process.
Sofia Had a WILD Childhood
During a March 2015 panel at PaleyFest, Vergara told the audience that her grandfather had an elephant and a tiger as pets, after a circus rolled into her hometown in Colombia and went bankrupt. “Imagine, in Colombia 60 years ago, when this happened, you know, he was allowed,” she said. “Who was going to stop him? So, he had the elephant in the backyard, and he had a tiger, Fidel.”
Gould Is a Genius!
Though he plays goofy character Luke on the show, teen actor Nolan Gould is actually ridiculously smart. He’s been a member of Mensa since he was four years old, and during the summer of 2012, at age 13, he got his GED and graduated from high school. “I do like to play Luke because he’s pretty different from myself,” Gould told Smashing Interviews Magazine in 2010. “Luke gets to do all kinds of crazy fun stuff, like run into a screen door. I find that fun, running into a screen door.”
Sofia’s a Blonde
Vergara is a natural blonde but is often asked by directors to darken her locks to appear “more Hispanic.”
Sofia Says “Swish and Spit”?
Vergara didn’t always plan to act. In Colombia, she originally studied dentistry but left just two semesters before graduation to pursue modeling and acting opportunities.
Cast Approves of Joe
In July 2014 it was reported that Vergara was dating True Blood star Joe Manganiello. The pair became engaged on Christmas Day 2014 after dating for only six months and will tie the knot this November in Florida. Apparently, the opinions of her castmates mattered when Vergara was contemplating getting serious with Manganiello. According to Bustle, Rico Rodriguez, who plays her son Manny on the show, said, “I met him before all of that went down. She wanted to make sure I met him, and he is such a cool guy, so I was like, ‘Yeah, he’s good. I approve!'”
Sofia’s Sordid Legal Battle
Vergara was engaged to Nick Loeb but ended their two-year relationship in 2014. They had planned to have children together and had two fertilized eggs frozen prior to their breakup. After the two split, Loeb sued Vergara for rights to the embryos, and according the New York Daily News, in May 2015 a judge ruled that he could amend his lawsuit to include an explicit request for and full custody and right to use the embryos. The lawsuit is still pending.
Two Lilys for the Cast to Love
Mitchell and Cameron’s daughter Lily was played by twins Ella and Jaden Hiller when the show first began. In the spring of 201 Sarah Hyland, who plays Haley Dunphy, told Us Weekly that telling the twins apart was tough. She said, “The only difference is the freckle one has by her left ear.”
Who’s That Lily?
In the show’s third season, four-year-old actress Aubrey Anderson-Emmons got her shot at playing Lily. The Hlller twins apparently grew tired of acting by the end of the second season, and their parents decided to pull them out, despite being offered more money to stick with the show.
Allegations of Abuse
In September 2014, Sarah Hyland, who plays fashion-obsessed Haley Dunphy on the show, was granted a temporary restraining order against her boyfriend of five years, Matthew Prokop, following allegations that he had choked her. Though Prokop has never publicly addressed the claims, he’s still vocal about caring for Hyland, posting on Twitter this spring, “I’ll be honest. It hurts like hell watching someone you care about slowly ruin their life. When you can’t do anything to help. #FallenAngel”
Everybody Loves a Clown
Stonestreet really wanted to be a clown as a kid, and his onscreen clown character Fizbo was very much inspired by his childhood dreams. “The truth is the Ringling Brothers came to Kansas City every year around my birthday and my parents took me,” Stonestreet said during a panel at PaleyFest 2015. “And it’s a line, literally, in the first Fizbo episode where Cam says: ‘I knew I wanted to be a clown when I realized clowns were just normal, regular people with makeup.'”
Jesse is a Do-Gooder
In September 2012 Jesse Tyler Ferguson and his lawyer husband, Justin Mikita, started a nonprofit charity called Tie The Knot. Formed to help raise funds in support of marriage equality for same-sex couples, the couple officially launched the charity as their engagement announcement in an online video.
Ed’s an Educator
After his dream of playing football was over and before committing to acting, O’Neill worked a series of odd jobs, including trucking and hotel work, before returning to his alma matter, Ursuline High School, as a substitute social studies teacher.
Sarah Was Seriously Ill
As a child, Hyland has diagnosed with kidney dysplasia, a disease that eventually causes the organs to fail. In 2012 her father donated a kidney to keep his daughter alive. “You know that family is going to be there for you no matter what,” she told Seventeen magazine in 2012. “My dad gave me a freakin’ kidney!”
Arial and Alex are Alike
Like her character, Ariel Winter, who plays the brainy Alex Dunphy, has a love of music. Winter put out a CD with her band Wicked Sweet and then released a few solo tracks on iTunes in 2010. In season 4 of Modern Family, Alex surprises her mom and sister with a café performance of her band Electric Light Dorkestra.
Ty Has Ties to Utah
Ty Burrell, who plays dad Phil Dunphy on the show, owns a bar in Utah with his brother. Burrell spent his early acting years performing in the Cedar City, Utah, Shakespearean Festival, and his wife, Holly, is originally from Utah. The two lived in Utah full-time until relocating to Southern California for his work on Modern Family.
Ariel Fought for Her Freedom
Over the past few years, Winter has been going through a nasty legal battle to become emancipated from her parents, alleging that her mother was emotionally and physically abusive. On May 5, 2014, the court ordered permanent guardianship to Winter’s older sister Shanelle Gray and removed Winter from her mother’s guardianship permanently. On May 15, 2015, Winter declared on Twitter that she was officially emancipated.
Ariel Went Under the Knife
In August 2015 Winter told Glamour that she finally had breast reduction surgery in early June. “I was 15 years old with [size] F [breasts]. It’s like, ‘How do you navigate that?'” she told Glamour. She has claimed to feel so much happier since making the decision to go from a 32 F to a 34 D.
Ty Burrell IS Phil
Cast members have said that Burrell is most like his onscreen character. “There’s a certain amount of me in Phil that, hilariously, I can’t ignore,” Burrell told the Salt Lake Tribune in 2009. “I’m prone to putting my foot in my mouth and being oblivious and delusional.”
This Cast Kicks Butt!
O’Neill is a black belt in Brazillian ju-jitsu. He has trained in the martial art for more than 22 years and said in the 2012 TV documentary I Am Bruce Lee that he considered getting his black belt “the greatest achievement of my life, apart from my children.” Onscreen granddaughter Alex, played by Ariel Winter, reportedly has a purple belt in tae kwon do.
Julie Bowen’s Heart Issue
Julie Bowen, who plays neurotic mom Claire Dunphy, wears a pacemaker. In her 20s, she was diagnosed with hypervagotonia, a condition that causes her heart to beat too slowly, and was outfitted with a pacemaker. According to More magazine, though she was initially bummed out about the diagnosis, she now calls it “no big deal.”
It Wasn’t Ed All Along
Though we can’t imagine the show without him now, O’Neill wasn’t always the producers’ pick for patriarch Jay Pritchett. Reportedly Craig T. Nelson was offered the role, but a deal couldn’t be made. “About a week later, they called and said, ‘We’re back to you,'” O’Neill told E! in 2013. “So I said, ‘Make the deal.'”
ABC Originally Wanted Andy Not Jesse
Apparently, ABC also originally wanted Jesse Tyler Ferguson to play the more flamboyant Cam, rather than the conservative Mitchell, and actually had late-night sidekick Andy Richter in mind for the Mitchell role. Mitchell was also originally supposed to be a dentist rather than an attorney.
Bump Didn’t Keep Bowen from Winning Claire Role
Reportedly, Julie Bowen wasn’t even being considered for the show because she was pregnant with twins at the time. Friends fave Lisa Kudrow and 3rd Rock from the Sun alumna Kristen Johnston were both considered before Bowen. Ultimately, Bowen landed the role and was pregnant during the shooting of the pilot, though producers had her hide her bump.
Bowen’s Baby Was Almost Born on Set
While pregnant with her first child, Bowen went into labor on the set of Boston Legal—while filming a scene in which her character goes into labor. “I was pretending to be in labor, grunting and groaning. They’re like, ‘Cut!’ and my water breaks, and I’m standing in a puddle,” she told More magazine in 2011.
Rodriguez Is Mexican, Not Colombian
Though he plays the son of Colombian-born Vergara on the show, Rico Rodriguez is actually of Mexican-American descent. He was born in Bryan, Texas.
Stonestreet Almost Went to Prison (to Work)
While attending Kansas State University, Stonestreet studied to be a prison administrator. He only tried acting on a dare but found he loved it. He still graduated with a degree in sociology but moved away after graduation to pursue acting.
Talent Runs in the Family
Rodriguez’s older sister Rani Rodriguez is also an actress. She’s best known for her roles in the Disney Channel series Austin & Ally and Paul Blart: Mall Cop. It was her acting career that first took the Rodriguezes to Hollywood.
Sofia’s Son Has Ties to Scarface
Vergara’s son by her first marriage, Manolo Gonzalez-Ripoll Vergara, is named after Scarface character Manolo “Manny” Ribera. Vergara is reportedly a big fan of the film.
Rodriguez Is an Open Book
In 2012, Rodriguez published the book Reel Life Lessons … So Far about his life as a child actor.
Nolan Loves Making Music
Nolan Gould (Luke) comes from a musical family and plays many instruments, including double bass, banjo, sitar, piano, and mandolin. In 2013, he told the Wall Street Journal he’d be interested in releasing an album or two someday.
Stonestreet Loves a Good Game
Though he didn’t play college football like his Modern Family character Cam, Stonestreet is a big fan of the game. He’s a big supporter of his alma matter’s team and also cheers on the Kansas City Chiefs.
Vergara is Thyroid Free
At age 28, Vergara was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and underwent surgery to remove the thyroid gland, then received radiation treatment to wipe out any remaining cancer cells. Though she’s been cancer-free since, she does take regular medication to make up for her loss of thyroid.
Cast Fought for Cash Together
The adult cast members banded together in 2012 to negotiate a significant pay bump. At the time, O’Neill was the highest paid member of the cast, earning $200,000 per episode. The others were making $30,000 to $90,000 per episode. His co-stars clamored for the same pay, but the producers held out, forcing production delays for season 4. Eventually, O’Neill agreed to have his salary lowered to match the newly negotiated salary of $150,000 per episode and he was given a much larger cut of back-end profits. Now, in 2015, all of the show’s stars make upward of $10 million per year.
Kids Got More Cash Too
The Modern Family cast kids are among the highest-paid young stars in Hollywood. Though they were originally all paid $15,000 to $20,000 per episode, that amount was raised to $75,000 during the 2012 salary negotiations with a $10,000 per season raise. That means all the teens are making about $100,000 per episode as they head into the new season. The show’s youngest cast member, Aubrey Anderson-Emmons, was not given the same pay bump. Her wage is unknown.
The Show’s Got Famous Fans
President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama along with their daughters Sasha and Malia have long named Modern Family as one of their favorite TV shows. “When our family gets together to watch TV, we usually watch shows like Modern Family and Parks and Recreation because they give us a good laugh,” Obama told TV Guide in 2012. Modern Family cast members have taken part in a number of White House events, including the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, where Rico Rodriguez and Michelle Obama read a Christmas story to children.