A veteran stage and screen actor, as well as a survivor of the short-lived sitcoms ‘Out of Practice’ and ‘Back to You,’ Ty Burrell has finally hit comedy paydirt as Phil Dunphy, the eternally optimistic realtor dad on ‘Modern Family.’ The first-year sitcom, an out of the box smash for ABC and called TV’s “best new comedy” by the San Francisco Chronicle, also stars Ed O’Neill, Julie Bowen and Sophia Vergara. But it’s Burrell who adds a truly modern flavor to the nonstop funny as the adult who refuses to give up his inner teenager while helping his wife navigate their three children along the unpredictable paths of adolescence. “I’m a cool dad,” he said in the opening episode. “That’s my thang. I’m hip, I surf the web, I text. LOL: laugh out loud, OMG: oh my god, WTF: why the face?”
A Los Angeles resident, Burrell and his wife, Holly, recently adopted a baby girl, now 13 weeks old. He spoke to Fancast.com from Louisiana, where he is co-starring with Jennifer Garner in the movie ‘Butter,’ the story of a small town butter carving championship in which he plays the reigning champ forced to step down and turn the spotlight over to his wife. Burrell, though weary from having worked until 3 AM, said, “I’m having great fun here, but I’m definitely spoiled by the hours on the show.”
The finale of your first season is coming up this week. What can you tell us about it? The viewers will be the judge, but I think more than any other episode we’ve done it really captures the spirit of the series.
What happens on it? Basically Claire wants a family portrait. She wants a family picture. And as anyone whose attempted this knows, it’s trying to get three families together for a family picture. In some cases, it can turn into a nightmare of errors, vanities and tempers – at least it has been like that in my family when we’ve tried to get everybody together for a picture. It’s no different for the Pritchetts and Dunphys.
You just finished a two-part story about the families going to Hawaii. Traditionally, that would have either been the finale or the opening of season two. I think that’s indicative of the way the producers approach the show. It’s not gimmicky. We actually had part one, the airport show, done and the writers – and [executive producer and co-creator] Steve Levitan in particular – were like this is a single-camera show. It’s not like a sitcom from the ‘70s where we all come back wearing leis and describe our trip to Hawaii. We have to show the viewers what happened. If we go out and do something, we have to actually do it. So they wrote a second episode of us actually in Hawaii.
Tough work – having to go there. Yeah. Sorry.
Was anyone on the cast shy about being shot in a swimsuit? Other than me? No, I’m kidding. Everyone was fine.
Who looked the hottest around the pool? I think Rico [he plays Manny] would say he was.
So who is cooler – you in real life or Phil? Wow. I haven’t thought about that, but now that I am, I’m thinking something horrible – that Phil might be cooler than me. It’s entirely possible that he is cooler than me.
Yikes. What does that say about you? Since Phil is not cool except in his own mind, it means that I might be really uncool and boring.
Did you in real life rush out and get yourself an iPad? No, I didn’t have to. We actually did receive the iPads from that episode. They were kind of our season-ending gifts. In fact, I’ve been playing with mine for the past 24 hours, and it’s fun.
It sounds like you might be tech savvy. No, I’m pretty much a dilettante as with everything else.
How hot is Julie Bowen? Very. And she’s even cooler. She’s the ultimate teammate. She’s game for anything.
What do you know about her that the rest of us don’t know? She has amazing physical strength. She is amazingly strong. She has punched and kicked me harder than either of my brothers ever did.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask what the deal is with you and a mustache. I couldn’t love them more. However, my wife won’t go along with the mustache idea. It’s the only facial hair I can grow. So this gives you an idea of how limited my imagination is. I love the mustache because it’s the only thing I can actually have. I have been trying to get to wear a mustache for a long time.
Cleary that played a part in the episode on the show, right? I had sent a photo with me in an actual mustache to Chris [Lloyd] and Steve [Levitan] last summer before we got going on the pilot. I had justified it to my wife by saying that maybe we would need it for the show. Basically it was playing two sides against each other for my mustache. Then I asked Chris and Steve, what do you think about the mustache? Wouldn’t it be funny for Phil? They were like, ‘Get that thing off. No way. Don’t go outside until your mustache is gone.’ Basically, nobody supports my moustache.
Watch the season finale of ‘Modern Family’ Wednesday, May 19, on ABC.