On The “Modern Family” Set With Eric Stonestreet

April 13, 2010 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Actors 

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!’”

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January 26, 2010 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: reviews 

Television Without Pity reviewed Modern Family and criticized Julie Bowen’s character Claire – What do you think?

As Modern Family’s fantastic first season has progressed, it’s just gotten better and funnier, and its characters have become more and more likable with each episode as the show has quickly grown into one of the best on television. With one glaring exception — Julie Bowen’s character Claire. While all the characters on the show are flawed by design, Claire is the standard irreversibly shrill sitcom wife surrounded by otherwise transgressive characters. Even when she does redeem herself by letting her husband win a foot race, or begrudgingly jumping into a pool with her clothes on to satisfy the stepmother she called a gold-digger, she’s still a joyless, shrew of a woman, and that’s a damn shame.

The difference between her character’s flaws and the rest of the cast’s is that not only is there nothing endearing about her, she isn’t trusted with the funny either. Her husband is a lecherous idiot who screws up constantly, but he’s an undeniably lovable lecherous idiot, and he gets the best lines on the show. Her father is a bit backwards in his thinking, but he strives to evolve, has a dog butler, and the scene where he spared little Manny from knowing what a jerk his deadbeat dad was would forgive him almost any insensitive remark he could ever make. And Cam is an over-the-top gay stereotype who should probably offend more than he does, but c’mon, you can’t not love that bleeding heart of an impromptu Lion King musical stager. But when pressed to come up with Claire’s good points, I really can’t come up with any. If she’s not humorlessly yelling, nagging, fretting, or complaining, she’s, well, off-screen.

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Modern Family Review on Slant Magazine

November 10, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: reviews 

Slant Magazine has a review of Modern Family TV show; here are some parts of it:

In ABC’s Modern Family, the funniest new sitcom of the season, the titular family is an extended one. Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen play Phil and Claire, a suburban couple with three children; Claire’s father has recently married a much younger Latina bombshell and Claire’s gay brother has just adopted a baby girl with his partner. A lesser show would have focused on the nuclear family, with wacky interludes and complications brought on by the unconventional secondary characters, but what is refreshing (and truly modern) about Modern Family is how all of its characters are given equal time and importance. And by extension, how all of the actors are given an opportunity to shine in their respective roles.

It’s a testament to the strong writing that, six episodes in, my favorite character has changed several times. Ty Burrell has been consistently funny as Phil, a cheerful dad completely oblivious not only to the embarrassment he causes himself but to the embarrassment he piles onto his wife and children. As he says to the camera at one point (the show is shot in the faux-documentary style of The Office): “Claire likes to say that you can be part of the problem, or part of the solution, but I happen to believe that you can be both.” He delivers the line with pride, yet the endearing way he causes problems, then tries to fix them, makes him both the fleeting heart of the show and its most clichéd character.

Other standouts include Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet as new parents Mitchell and Cameron. Neither is defined by their gayness, but they are not made to act straight to prove a point either. Mitchell is buttoned-up and anxious while Cameron is big and boisterous, a man who loves to eat, loves football, and who presents his adopted daughter to a family gathering while wearing an African robe and playing “Circle of Life” from The Lion King. My current favorite character, however, is Manny (Rico Rodriguez), the 11-year-old son of Gloria (Sofia Vergara), the new wife of the family’s patriarch (Ed O’Neill, both gruff and decent). Manny is an old soul, a kid who drinks coffee to honor his Colombian heritage, and who would rather have a heart-to-heart with Claire than play with her kids.

Read the full story at Slant Magazine.

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