Actor Ty Burrell: From Grants Pass to ABC’s hit comedy ‘Modern Family’
For a young man who grows up in Ashland, getting the acting bug must be as easy as falling off a log. Right? After all, the Southern Oregon town is home to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, known for its world-class productions and top-flight casts.
But for Ty Burrell, the Oregon native who co-stars on the ABC comedy, “Modern Family,” the whole acting thing took a while.
“What do they say about not taking advantage of things in your hometown?” Burrell says, calling from Los Angeles. “You know, if you’re in Paris, you never go see the Eiffel Tower? I didn’t go to see a play at the festival until I was in my early 20s.”
But fans of “Modern Family” — the show averages 10.6 million viewers weekly — know Burrell has become a gifted actor, moving easily between drama and comedy. Burrell, 42, has performed onstage in New York and London; in movies (“The Incredible Hulk,” “Black Hawk Down”); and on TV (“Back to You”).
Oregon Live spoke with Burrell about his own family, acting and his Oregon roots. Here are some of the Q&As:
Q: How much of the character of Phil is based on you or your family?
A: I mainly just drew on myself — sadly (laughs). Phil’s inability to see how he’s goofing and messing things up comes directly from my own delusional, oblivious existence. It’s magnified with people that I’ve met over the years, people who I’ve really liked because I think that type of person is just so full of life.
Q: What were your younger days in Oregon like?
A: I was born in Grants Pass and grew up in Ashland. We also spent about eight years in Applegate, where my family owned a little country store. That was an amazing time, lots of lazy summer days, floating down the Applegate River on inner tubes. In many ways, it was absurd because we had no business being out in the country because we were extremely soft! I graduated from Hidden Valley High School.
Q: When did you get interested in acting? Was that something others in your family had done?
A: Nobody in my family, at any level, had ever had any connection to performing or show business. I will say, though, that there’s a long history of raconteurs in my family. My grandfather was a great storyteller, and my dad and his brother would get going and were very funny together. My younger brother, Duncan, and I really watched that a lot and admired it. The official term would be we got into comedy when we were young. But we really just got into goofing off when we were kids.
Read the rest of the story Oregon Live