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Modern Family’s best actor was initially rejected from the role

Modern Family's best cast member was initially turned down from the role for not being funny enough, but we're so glad the decision was changed.

Modern Family cast

The Modern Family cast’s most Emmy-nominated actor, Ty Burrell (who stars in the comedy series as Phil Dunphy), was initially rejected for the role by the network behind the show.

With eight consecutive Emmy nominations for his role in the TV series, and two wins, Burrell was a consistent and dazzling presence on the sitcom. However, Modern Family’s co-creator Steven Levitan has shared how Burrell nearly lost out on the part entirely.

Speaking back in 2020 on the retrospective documentary A Modern Farewell, Levitan and Burrell explained the situation. Levitan said, “We wrote the part of Phil for Ty Burell, and we went to the network and said ‘we want Ty Burrell for this,’ and they weren’t big fans.”

Burrell continued, “I got word that it was basically over. [The network weren’t finding me] appealing, charming, funny, you know basic things about [me] personally that they didn’t like.”

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So, Levitan and Burrell came up with a plan. Levitan took it into his own hands to shoot a scene with Burrell in the role with his own camera, and then showed it to the network. Levitan explained, “The network saw it and said ‘we get it, alright good: go,’ and that was it.”

One of the other actors who was offered the role of Phil Dunphy was Matt LeBlanc, who starred as Joey in Friends. However, he turned the role down paving the way for Burrell, and it’s genuinely impossible to imagine any other actor taking on the role. Burrell’s performance remained one of the comedy-drama series‘ biggest highlights throughout each of the show’s 11 seasons.

For more comedy classics, check out our guide to the best comedy movies. Or, switch genres and find out our picks for the best thriller series.