On The “Modern Family” Set With Eric Stonestreet
Back Stage visited Stonestreet on set, where he was filming an episode, and spoke with him about landing the job of a lifetime. Here are some of the highlights of their visit:
Stonestreet reveals that he originally read the pilot for “Modern Family” when a friend asked for help running lines.
“He had an audition for Cameron, and as I read with him, I was really bummed I wasn’t getting to go in for it,” Stonestreet recalls. “It just hadn’t come my direction as far as the physical type yet.” Although he hadn’t seen a description of the character’s appearance, he knew that Ferguson was already cast as Mitchell and the network was looking for someone who matched him. “You just never know,” Stonestreet says. “I’ve been a character actor and a big guy my whole career, and my goal has always been to change people’s mind and do justice to the part so that they look past what I look like and see just an actor, rather than a ‘big’ or a ‘heavyset’ actor.”
Stonestreet’s representation persisted, and the show still couldn’t find a Cameron. The search began to widen, and eventually Stonestreet was allowed to audition. “I don’t remember the exact breakdown, but it was something like ‘Passionate, the more dramatic of the two, flamboyant but grounded,’” the actor says. “It was a tricky character to audition for, because you read the script and there’s that ‘Lion King’ moment. So you have to build a character who’s not too flamboyant — yet, on Page 27, he’s capable of this.”
Though Stonestreet is straight, he had no qualms about accepting the role, and he takes it as a compliment that many viewers find him so convincing that they assume he’s gay in real life. “I love it!” he says. “I love the fans that I have. They’re so cool. I’m a guy who’s been working as an actor for a long time, and my main goal was always to get a job. Not to get a job on a great show, not to get a job on a great show with a great character, but just to get a job. So for me to be on this show with this cast and this audience support is more than I could have ever imagined. I will take my fans in any shape, size, gender, sexual orientation they come in. I’m just happy to have fans!”
As for his family’s reaction, Stonestreet points to the year before he landed “Modern Family,” when he played murderers on “The Mentalist,” “Pushing Daisies,” and “NCIS,” as well as an inmate on death row for raping and murdering a girl on a recent episode of “Nip/Tuck.” “People will ask me, ‘Are your parents okay with you playing a gay character on TV?’ And I’m like, ‘My mom was more upset that I killed three people on TV last year!’”