Lauren Hallow / Lantern photographer
“Are you going to start (the article) with what we’re wearing?” asked Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who plays Mitchell Pritchett on the Emmy Award-winning comedy series, “Modern Family.” “They always start with what we’re wearing.”
Before hitting the stage for the Ohio Union Activities Board-sponsored event last Wednesday at Mershon Auditorium titled, “Guys Night In with ‘Modern Family,'” the men of the show, including Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet and Ty Burrell, sat down with The Lantern to talk about the show and its success.
“Modern Family” is a documentary-style sitcom that chronicles the antics of a non-traditional extended family. Stonestreet and Ferguson play a couple raising an adopted baby, and Burrell plays Phil Dunphy, a good-natured but bumbling husband.
The event happened to fall on the night a new episode of the show aired on ABC.
“Maybe we’ll decide out there on stage to go home to some lucky fan’s house (to watch the episode),” said Stonestreet, who plays Cameron Tucker on the show.
The men contemplated inviting everyone in attendance at the lecture to come back to their hotel room to watch, but then decided on a better plan.
“(Burrell and I) could just go to a sorority. Jesse, you could go to a fraternity,” Stonestreet said.
When the room erupted in laughter, Stonestreet clarified himself.
“Hey, it’s not because he’s gay,” Stonestreet said
“Yeah, I just like guys,” Ferguson said.
Through the success of their show, the stars have had some great experiences with fans of their characters, they said.
“Today, a girl came up to me on the street and said, ‘I just have to say hello and thank you. I have two gay dads and I love to be able to … have something reflecting me on television,'” Ferguson said.
Still, not all fans are as calm and collected when they run into the stars in public.
Stonestreet had an interesting encounter with a fan at a Chinese restaurant.
“I had a fan last night throw a fortune cookie at me because her fortune said ‘It’s time to start something new,'” Stonestreet said. “She threw the fortune cookie at my table, and when I looked back she yelled drunkenly, ‘It says it’s time to start something new!'”
Because of the show’s format, the actors are not always able to keep up with the plot lines of each branch of their TV family.
“I don’t personally follow, for example, what Ty and Julia (Bowen, who plays Burrell’s wife on the show,) are up to,” Stonestreet said. “So when I watch the episode for myself, I really get to watch it as a fan of the show.”
“That’s weird, because I watch you guys everyday when I come to work,” Burrell said.
“Yeah, and you’re asked to leave the set every day,” Stonestreet replied.
Though awards season is months away, the men are still thinking about the upcoming Emmys.
Last year, the show won the award for Best Comedy Series, and all three actors were individually nominated for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.
Still, there could only be one winner, and Stonestreet walked away with the trophy.
When asked if Stonestreet had changed since his win, he lifted his feet and placed them on Burrell’s lap.
“It’s just so hard through your boots,” Burrell said as he attempted to rub Stonestreet’s feet.
Joking aside, the men all believe they will have a four-way battle for the award this year with the inclusion of Ed O’Neill, who plays Jay Pritchett on the show.
“It’s a very strange situation on our show when we all share the load so equally. To not have had all … of us in that last year was definitely strange,” Burrell said.
The show’s success has also allowed the men to speak out on topics they are passionate about. For Ferguson, this includes arts programs, anti-bullying programs and The Trevor Project, a suicide prevention organization aimed at LGBTQ youth.
“Through our show, I can participate in those charities with … a more poignant voice in many ways because people sort of already have a context of me, and they’ll listen more,” Ferguson said.
The stars said they are simply thankful to finally have a job they love.
“I came up (in acting) in the year that painting big guys was really funny,” Stonestreet said. “I’ve been painted red, blue, green, orange. I’ve been painted silver like a Coors Light can.”
The guys joked that any type of greasy or bright make-up on set would usually be going on Stonestreet’s face.
“That’s something that could be on the bottom of your resume under special skills,” Burrell said. “‘Holds color well.'”
“Your memoir is going to be, ‘Eric Stonestreet: A Lack of Dignity,'” Burrell said with a laugh.
With the second season of “Modern Family” wrapping up this week, the men are optimistic about the show’s future and the success of the actors.
“I think by the end of the show, every one of us will have won some sort of trophy for our portrayals of our characters,” Stonestreet said.
“Yeah, even if it’s just a little bowling trophy,” Burrell said.