Season 8 of the hit ABC series Modern Family is set to premiere on September 21, 2016. To get ready for the grand reveal, we thought we would compile a list of 15 Behind the Scenes Secrets About Modern Family. This sitcom has become such a contemporary take on the American family, and so many people have spoken up about how real and true it is to real life. From the multi-cultural family relations, to the same-sex relationships between characters, and several generations all living together, there is a lot of drama, a lot of laughs, and plenty of content to keep audiences tuning in, even after seven seasons. Viewers have watched the characters grow up and develop and the actors and actresses on the show have even felt a personal tug to their Modern Family counterparts.
You may think that you know a lot about Modern Family and its actors, but we bet that these tidbits will give you brand-new insight into the show and its creation. Learn more about the personal lives of the actors, how the crew makes the on-screen magic work, and where the inspiration for these extremely real Modern Family stories come from. With the experiences that these characters go through, there is no doubt that there has been real-life inspiration on the director’s and producer’s end. If you haven’t tuned in to watch Modern Family yet, what are you waiting for? Do some binge-watching and hunker down to catch the season 8 premiere on September 21!
15. Sofia Vergara is Totally Legal
Don’t hassle her, she’s local now. Sofia Vergara is from Colombia, and she played a character who was also an immigrant from South America. In 2014, Sofia became an official citizen of the United States of America, and she even got a perfect score on her exam. She went through the citizenship test and process and now she is probably more knowledgeable about the United States than people who were born and raised there. As for Sofia’s character, Gloria, she became an official United States citizen on Modern Family during the show’s sixth season. The episode focused on Gloria’s process of going through the citizenship testing. Sofia’s first experience in the United States was in Miami, Florida and now she is making $28.5 million each year. What a life! Life wasn’t always kind to her though; her older brother was killed in Colombia during a kidnapping attack in 1998.
14. Ariel Winter Could Kick the Cast’s Butts
Don’t discount Ariel Winter. She may play a geeky girl on Modern Family, but she is a real life purple belt in tae-kwon-do. She could probably kick the cast’s butts if there was ever an intense altercation (which there wouldn’t be.) Well, Ariel could probably take on everyone except Ed O’Neill. He spent over 20 years training to achieve his black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Even at his age, he still has the moves! Back to Ariel, her talents are not limited to martial arts. She is also musically gifted just like her character on Modern Family. While her character Alex performs with her band the Electric Light Dorkestra, the real-life Ariel Winter is in a band called Wicked Street. She released albums with the band as well as some solo tracks to pursue her music career. She sings, she acts, and she’s a beautiful young woman? Perfection.
13. There’s an Entire Wardrobe Trailer
As you would expect, the Modern Family set needs to have a lot of clothes on hand for all of the actors. Rather than a simple room or closet, there is a huge trailer dedicated solely to the Modern Family wardrobe. And it is filled with a lot of outfits and accessories for Gloria (Sofia Vergara’s character.) Sofia has even said that if she is out shopping at the mall and she spots something that would be perfect for Gloria, she will buy it with her own money. She really relates to her character and treats her almost like a real-life gal pal. In truth, the actors can relate more to their characters with the right clothing. Take Gloria for example. Can you imagine her wearing drab and frumpy clothing? No way! She is a hot Colombiana and her personality really shines through when she’s wearing the appropriate clothing. Muycaliente!
12. Baby Lily Was Actually a Set of Twins
Lily Tucker-Pritchett is one cute young girl on Modern Family. She was adopted from her native Vietnam by gay couple Cameron and Mitchell. Now she is more capable of acting for longer periods of time, but back when she was just a baby, things were different. As is common with baby and infant actors, baby Lily was played by a pair of twins named Ella and Jaden Hiller. When one baby started to get antsy, then just switched them out and replaced them with the other twin. No one could tell the difference anyway! The same thing was done back when Full House was on the air. Michelle Tanner was played by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. As for the role of Lily, it has been a very interesting one, and viewers of the Modern Family have praised the show, its actors, and directors for portraying a gay couple that adopts a child and has a healthy family relationship.
11. Julie Bowen Covers This Up on Set
Julie Bowen plays an eccentric housewife on Modern Family and yet she always seems to look fab. Little do viewers know, Julie has been struggling with a heart condition for the past twenty years, and she has to wear a pacemaker. She even wears it on set, but you will never spot it on Modern Family. Another thing that audiences didn’t get to see was when Julie went into real labor on the set! She was filming her character’s labor scene and at the end of filming it was time for her to give birth to her little son, Oliver. Actually, the Modern Family producers were originally going to drop Julie from the cast and have Lisa Kudrow or Kristen Johnston play Julie’s character instead. They eventually went with Julie but made her cover up her baby bump for the beginning of the season. Surely the producers don’t regret their decision to cast Julie.
10. Eric Stonestreet is Not Gay at All
Even though he plays a gay guy on Modern Family, Eric Stonestreet is not gay at all. He plays the role of Cameron, and Stonestreet’s on-screen partner is played by Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who is actually gay. While Stonestreet calls himself “openly gay,” his co-star Ferguson jokes that Stonestreet is “gay for pay,” meaning that he’s totally fine playing gay characters on the screen. In fact, he is most well-known for his gay character. As a matter of fact, Eric Stonestreet was dating a “Real Housewife,” Bethenny Frankel. And while Stonestreet is now known for portraying Cam, the producers originally wanted Jesse Tyler Ferguson to play Cameron. For the role of Mitchell (which is Ferguson’s actual role), the producers were eyeing Andy Richter for the role. The way things panned out, Stonestreet got the role of Cam and Ferguson was Mitchell, and hey, it all actually works out really well.
9. There Was a Spat Over Pay
Modern Family has a cast that sticks together through thick and thin, and they really do act like a legit family. Back in 2012, Modern Family started topping the charts and becoming a hot commodity. The actors noticed this and they started thinking about their pay rates. It was revealed that most of the actors were making about $30,000 per episode. That was a decent rate, but Ed O’Neill was making $200,000 per episode! So there was a brief spat in which the other actors told the producers that they wanted to make as much per episode as Ed. There was some deliberation and it was agreed that Ed would lower his per-episode salary to $150,000 and the rest of the major actors would make that much as well. So needless to say, the actors on Modern Family are making BANK, and they are some of the richest actors in Hollywood.
8. Sofia Vergara Dyes Her Hair for the Show
She is Colombian, but she is a natural blonde, kind of like Shakira. However, because she is supposed to be stereotypically Latina on Modern Family, she dyes her hair dark brown on a regular basis. So now Sofia hopefully looks more Latina for the show. While her character Gloria is a Colombiana, her on-screen son Manny is not. Rico Rodriguez is Mexican-American but he plays the Colombian Manny on Modern Family. By the way, Rico’s sister is Rani Rodriguez, who appears on the Disney Channel original series Austin & Ally, as well as Paul Blart: Mall Cop. Clearly they are a talented family! On a different note, Sofia should be happy to have a full head of hair at all. Back when she was just 28 years old, she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Fortunately, she fully recovered and has been in remission ever since. Let’s hope it stays that way!
7. Sarah Hyland Acts While Battling a Disease
Actress Sarah Hyland may look flawless on the silver screen, but she is actually living with kidney dysplasia, a disease which can be seriously dangerous. When she was nine years old, she was diagnosed with the condition, and in 2013 she had to undergo a kidney transplant operation (her dad donated one of his kidneys for her.) Now that’s family! At 5-foot, 2-inches, she is petite yet strong, and she has won 5 awards for her stellar acting skills. While she will be battling her kidney condition for the rest of her life, she doesn’t let it determine her label in Hollywood. For the record, kidney dysplasia results when the kidney does not form properly while a baby is in the womb. It can cause cysts and irregular masses in the organ. While there is no known cure for kidney dysplasia, the fact that Sarah had a successful kidney transplant means that she can live well.
6. The Set Works Double Duty
Hey, in Los Angeles, California it can be difficult to find enough studio room. So to save space, some of the rooms on the Modern Family set work double duty and provide the backdrop for more than one scene. For example, the Dunphy daughters (played by Ariel Winter and Sarah Hyland,) have their bedroom, which is actually their parents’ bedroom. The crew on the Modern Family set have to constantly be on hand to replace some of the furniture and change it around in order to make each bedroom look distinct from the other. So the next time you sit down to watch Modern Family, pay attention and see if you can tell that the sisters’ bedroom is the same room as their parents’ boudoir. It’s actually quite common for producers to do this on set, especially in a place like Los Angeles, where many TV shows and films get shot and directed.
5. Stella’s Doggie Double
No family sitcom would be complete with a family pet, right? In Modern Family, it is Stella, the French Bulldog that Jay owns and Gloria despises. She is an adorable dog, but she had to be replaced for Season 3 of Modern Family after her doggie actress, Brigitte was pulled from the dog-casting agency. Apparently there are agencies that are specifically for doggie actors and actresses. Who knew? Anyway, Brigitte was replaced with another French Bulldog named Beatrice, and the good news is that nobody in the audience seemed to notice that there was a change of dogs. It helped that the producers were able to get the same dog breed, and Beatrice is very similar in appearance to Brigitte. It turns out that French Bulldogs are quite common in Hollywood. John Legend and Chrissy Teigen own one, as do Lady Gaga, Reese Witherspoon, and Ashlee Simpson. These dogs are having their day!
4. Mitchell’s Repeated Coming-Out is Inspired by Real Life
On Modern Family, Mitchell has to keep telling his dad, Jay, that he is gay. The repeated coming-out scenarios are based on Jesse Tyler Ferguson’s real life, in which he had to come out to his own father on multiple occasions for his dad to finally accept it as reality. In fact, a lot of the scenes in Modern Family are based on the actors’ and directors’ real life experiences and skills. Ferguson plays a gay man and he actually is one. Ariel plays Alex the music nerd, and she’s kind of one in real life too! In fact, on the directors of Modern Family has stated that he regularly makes notes from his own family experiences so that he can tie them into the show. When his kids see him jotting down notes, they often call him out and say that he better not put that on the show! No wonder Modern Family seems so true to life.
3. Sofia Vergara Can Dish Out Dental Advice on Set
If you find yourself admiring Sofia Vergara’s stunning pearly whites, then you should know that there is a reason for that. After all, the Colombian beauty studied dentistry in her native country before deciding to pursue the career of modeling and acting. Incredibly, Sofia was just two semesters away from completing her dentistry in Colombia. She gave it all up so that she could snag a job as a television hostess. Sure, that turned out well for her, but she is lucky that acting and modeling became as big for her as it did. Most people who want to make it in Hollywood have an extremely hard time, and most people would have stuck with dentistry instead of throwing a stable paycheck away to be a television presenter. That being said, Sofia is gorgeous, so success in modeling and acting was a no-brainer. Now she has no interest in going back for that dentistry degree.
2. Ed O’Neill Was an Awesome Athlete
In fact, he almost went pro! Back in 1969, Ed was drafted into the NFL as a free agent. Unfortunately, he never officially made it onto the professional football field because he was released before the regular season began. And to think that he could have been a player on the Pittsburgh Steelers. Ed was actually really heartbroken after being let go from the NFL, but things ended up turning out well for him. After the whole football thing fell through, Ed worked loads of random jobs, driving trucks, working in a hotel, and even returning to his high school to be a substitute teacher for a short period of time. Can you imagine being taught by the Ed O’Neill? Anyway, he eventually turned to acting, and he has found huge success with Modern Family, on which he plays the role of Jay, the wife of Gloria (played by Sofia Vergara.)
1. Nolan Gould is a Genius
No, seriously, the kid is a freaking genius. He has been a member of the smarty-pants organization Mensa, since he was just 4 years old. Gould has also been tested for his IQ, and he does indeed fall into the extremely gifted upper echelons of intelligence. When he was just 13 years old, he obtained his GED and tested out of going to high school. Even so, Gould plays a Modern Family character who has a much more basic level of intelligence. Yet Gould says that while the role is a huge departure from who is actually is in real life, he enjoys it a lot. It gives him the freedom to just let loose and not be afraid of looking like a fool. One of his talents that you might not see on Modern Family is his banjo-playing skills. In fact, he plays a number of musical instruments including the sitar, mandolin, piano, and double bass. He’s like a one-man band!