A Different Start
Modern Family is shot as a mockumentary with its hand-held camera shots and onscreen family interviews, but few fans know that the show was originally conceived to be an actual documentary. The potential documentary was the brainchild of a Dutch filmmaker named Geert Floorjte who lived with the real-life American Pritchetts as a teenage exchange student.
Since the fun family sitcom made its way on to the air it has been widely praised for the diversity of the cast and characters. Many fans were pleasantly surprised by the same-sex partnership of Cameron and Mitchell, respectively played by Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson. What fans might be shocked to learn is that the actor who plays the flamboyant and camp Cameron, is actually straight. Yup, straight as an arrow!
The Real Smarts
Luke Dunphy, the youngest of the Dunphy clan is definitely not the brightest bulb in the bunch. But unlike the dim-witted character he plays, young actor Nolan Gould has an IQ of 150. Gould is a member of Mensa, the largest and most prestigious high IQ society in the world. He graduated from high school at just 13 years old.
In the show, lovable Cam Tucker often plays Fizbo the Clown, his retired clown character. Eric Stonestreet who plays Cam, actually got his start in a big bow tie and bad clown make up. “When I was a kid, I wanted to be a clown in the circus… It was my way then as a young man to express my desire to entertain and perform,” the actor shared. Encouraged by his parents, Stonestreet actually performed at local kids’ birthday parties.
Cam and Mitchell’s adorable baby girl Lily, was initially portrayed by twins Ella and Jaden Hiller. After two seasons, the girls’ parents decided it was time for the girls to ditch the show. “Halfway through season two their personalities had started to develop, and it was really clear to us that they weren’t enjoying their time on set,” the twins’ mother told Woman’s Day in 2012. With all due respect, the girls offered us some of the most deadpan baby acting we’ve ever seen. Aubrey Anderson-Emmons took on the role after season 2 ended.
Eagle-eyed fans may have noticed something suspicious about the newspaper that the family patriarch, Ed O’Neill’s Jay Pritchett, reads in the show. It is the same exact one his beloved character Al Bundy read on Married… with Children. Ed has been reading the same newspaper for 20 years! The prop is well-used by the studio as it has been cleared for legal use on television shows. If you keep your eye’s peeled, you might be able to spot the paper on other sitcoms and series.
The Eventual Kiss
Although the show has been praised for its portrayal of a gay married couple as a ‘modern family,’ fans were less than pleased to note the lack of physical affection between the two husbands. In 2010, fans formed a Facebook group campaigning for the more realistic portrayal of romance by the couple. Eventually, they were delighted when Cam and Mitchell were subsequently shown to kiss in the background of a scene. This supposedly had more to do with the character Mitchell’s discomfort with public affection, rather than the viewing public’s discomfort with seeing a gay couple kiss.
Props vs Pregnancy
TV shows often go to ridiculous lengths to conceal a character’s real-life pregnancy, and Modern Family is no different. When Julie Bowen, who plays Claire Dunphy, auditioned for the role of the family’s sweet but highly-strung mother, she was pregnant. Despite her swollen belly, Bowen won the role. When it came time to shoot the pilot episode of the series, producers concealed the star’s pregnancy with some strategically placed cereal boxes.
True Life Inspiration
Jesse Tyler Ferguson’s real-life coming out story actually made it into the show’s plot. Jesse had to come out to his father not once, not once but a total of three times in order for his dad to come to term’s with the announcement. The producer’s thought the anecdote was so endearing they wrote it into one of the show’s episodes.
A True Ensemble
Fans of the series will be delighted to hear that the cast of the show are just as close in real life as they are onscreen. The tight-knit crew has vowed to support one another professionally and emotionally. The cast has actually made a pact to submit themselves to awards shows solely as Supporting Actors and Actresses, so that it’s affirmed that no one in the ensemble considers him or herself to be more important than their fellow co-stars.
Sofia the Dentist
It might be difficult to imagine, but Sofia Vergara almost never made it on to our television screens. The vivacious and voluptuous star was set on becoming a dentist before she got her start in Hollywood. She was a pre-dental student in her native country of Colombia but dropped out two semesters before she graduated with her degree.
Season 3 of the series almost included a very, very famous face. The Princess of Pop, Miss Britney Spears, was asked to appear in a cameo role on the third season of the show after producer’s discovered she was a huge Modern Family fan. Unfortunately, the pop star’s camp responded too late, production had already begun and the cameo never came to be.
TV fanatics can get lost in the onscreen worlds of their favorite shows, often believing every last detail presented to them. Fans might be sad to hear that the Dunphy house is far from an inviting, family home – it’s empty. The piece of LA real estate was only used for exterior shots while interior shots are actually filmed on studio sound stages.
Modern Family is a bonafide worldwide hit. The very first season of the show garnered 12.6 million viewers and the show’s stars have the paychecks to prove it. Ed O’Neill, Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet and Sofia Vergara reportedly make about $500,000 per episode while Sarah Hyland, Ariel Winter, Nolan Gould and Rico Rodriguez pocket $100,000 for each episode.
Julie Bowen’s character is known to be pretty neurotic. There are few episodes that don’t include the mom getting her heart rate up over some incident within the household. The real-life actress has to keep things a little more steady. Bowen wears a pacemaker since she was diagnosed with a heart condition in her twenties.
This young cast member has a hidden talent. Nolan, the young actor behind ditzy Luke, is a proficient musician. On an appearance on the Ellen show, the young man was handed a banjo and surprised the audience with an impressive performance.
The show’s popularity has spread to viewers from across the globe. The Islamic Republic of Iran actually produced a frame-by-frame remake of the show entitled Haft Sang which premiered in June 2014. Unsurprisingly, the couple of Mitch and Cam was replaced by a heterosexual married couple.
Actors might play character’s without any defining personal struggles but real life can paint a different picture. In 2000, Sofia Vergara was diagnosed with thyroid cancer when she was just 28 years old. Thankfully, after receiving the necessary treatment, the actress made a full recovery.
Ed O’Neill might be known for his acting chops but the man behind the Modern Family has another secret talent. O’Neill is a Brazilian Jui Jitsu master, he has a black belt in the combative sport. While Ariel Winter, who plays his granddaughter Alex Dunphy, has a purple belt in Taekwondo.
Everybody knows that Jay adores his spoiled French bulldog Stella, but there’s one cast member who is not such a fan. Sofia hates the dog. She was so visibly uncomfortable in each scene she had with the canine that the writers had to write her dislike of the animal into the show’s script. Sorry, Stella.
Ty Burrel might be one of TV’s most well-paid actors today, but things were very different when he first got his start in Hollywood. The young actor, while earning his degree at Penn State University, he actually lived out of his van in an attempt to save some extra bucks. The sacrifice was well worth it, fast forward a few years and Ty nabbed two Emmys in 2011 and 2014.
Sofia Vergara was engaged to Nick Loeb but the pair parted in 2014. During their relationship, the couple planned to have children together and subsequently had two of the actress’s fertilized eggs frozen prior to their split. Loeb has since sued Vergara for the legal rights to use the embryos as well as request full legal custody of the potential children. The lawsuit is still pending.
It’s difficult to imagine actor Ed O’Neill doing anything other than entertaining fans on the small screen but before he strolled on to a studio set he was a regular on the football pitch. In 1969 O’Neill was signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers as an outside linebacker but was soon released before the official season began.
Alex Dunphy might have a stable and loving family home but Ariel Winter, the actress behind the character, comes from a very different background. After the actress made allegations that her mother was verbally and emotionally abusive, Winter requested to be legally emancipated from her parents at the age of 17. In 2015, she confirmed that she was officially separated from her parents. Reportedly, the actress and her mother are still estranged.
Every American family loves the show and its popularity has even made it to the White House. The former presidential family, the Obamas, have said its the show that they love to watch when they’re together. “For the girls and me, Modern Family, that’s our favorite show,” said Barack Obama about the Emmy-winning sitcom.
Vergara is one of the undeniable breakout stars of the show. Fans (especially male ones) can’t get enough of her wild accent, seductive curves and sassy attitude. A few fast facts about the actress: she was the highest paid woman on television in 2017, she married the super hunky actor Joe Manganiello in 2014, she once dated action star Tom Cruise and she is 5’8″ tall!
In an alternate universe, the cast of the show looks very, very different. Lisa Kudrow was considered for the role of Claire, the casting director had Andy Richter in mind for the role of Mitchell and the part of Jay Pritchett was initially offered to Craig T. Nelson.
In 2014, the beautiful Sarah Hyland filed for a restraining order against her verbally and physically abusive ex-boyfriend Matthew Prokop. After their nasty break-up, her ex reportedly had threatened to harm the actress. The order was granted and Hyland has since moved past the rattling events.
At the time Julie Bowen landed the role of Claire she was nine months pregnant. She gave birth just after the pilot episode was shot, what you might be surprised to hear, is that Bowen gave birth on set! Strangely enough, the actress was shooting a scene in which her character gives birth. A moment after the scene wrapped, Bowen’s water broke and she went into labor.
Ariel Winter All Grown Up
As Ariel started to grow into her womanhood, she was desperate to leave her innocence behind, along with her character. She has recreated her image, and does a lot of modeling. She is not the same little girl she used to be.
Just like her onscreen mom, Sarah Hyland has also had her own health battles. As a child, the actress was diagnosed with kidney dysplasia, a disease that eventually causes the organs to fail. In 2012 she underwent a kidney transplant, donated to her by her father. Hyland made a full recovery and is now happy and healthy.
Where Are They Now?
The cast looks very different now to when they all started the show, it is fun to see how they have all changed.