Ty Burrell 'Too Neurotic' to Be Like Phil Dunphy
By Nicki Gostin Posted May 19th 2011 12:20PM
Ty Burrell is Phil Dunphy but Phil Dunphy is not Ty Burrell. Or is it the other way around? The man behind one of the most endearing dads on televison -- ever! -- says he's "too neurotic" to be like his befuddled, happy-go-lucky character on 'Modern Family.' But in person (aka, on his crappy phone) the guy is as sweet and charming as his alter-ego, which happens to be the first job he's held onto after a decade of one-off roles, failed sitcoms ('Back to You,' anyone?) and before that, jobs like catering, forest firefighting and no joke, bouncer. Burrell is nothing but grateful to fill your Dunphy fix each week.
"I was never the kind of person with the self esteem saying five years ago, 'Man wait till you people find out what I'm really made of,'" he tells PopEater. "It's more of being in a state of shock that all of a sudden anybody would want to work with me. I'm still so confused."
Do I sound like a complete suck-up if I say that I absolutely love 'Modern Family'?
No, you don't sound like a suck-up you sound like my best friend.
I love when you look into the camera.
It's a really fun thing for us to be able to do. It's been an amazingly fun thing to have that liberty. Usually you kind of feel when the moment is, I guess it's when the character is feeling a little bit more self-confident.
I am in a lot ways and in some ways I'm not as much like him. In the beginning I definitely thought there was no difference between myself and the character but now I think the more I play the part the more I'm starting to realize I'm kind of too neurotic to really be Phil.
(The phone cuts out and we're reconnected).
I'm sorry it's my brand new state of the art portable talking device which is horrible and I'm not going to say its name, I think you know what it is. It's the iPhone. It's so bad at least over here, there's no reception.
So you're neurotic.
Yeah I was just saying I've got typical human neuroses and Phil is completely, completely unburdened by existential angst or anything like that. So in that sense it's all the more fun to go to work because it really is like taking a break from my brain.
Ever feel like 'Oh God I don't want to see everyone today'?
Oh not yet and I hope it never happens. We're really still in a phase where we just love each other and we have so much fun.
Who's the funniest off camera?
The kids crack us up the most but I think the person with the highest quality and quantity of bits is probably Jesse.
No, we had tons of hope for that actually. We had an amazing writing staff at the time, it was sort of like a dream team and it was created by Steve (Levitan) and Chris (Lloyd) who created our show.
Isn't that weird that it didn't work?
It is a weird thing. I still don't really understand anything about show business but I do feel like I'm learning that a lot of things have to go right for a show to stay on the air. Some of it is stuff that's pretty obvious and some of it is behind the scenes that we don't even know about. A lot of different factors have to go your way.
Now don't you realize how rare it is to be on a hit show? It's like winning the lottery.
It really is especially for somebody like myself. I haven't been able to keep a job over a year in my life of any kind. You're right, the odds are so slim.
When people are in a hit show and they bitch and moan I want to shake them.
Yeah and I think you're absolutely justified in that. It drives me crazy to hear it and being human it drives me crazy to actually do it myself like complaining about having to get up at 5 a.m. or something like that and if there was a way you could effectively slap yourself I would.
Listen give me your number and I'll yell at you for not being grateful anytime.
I'll call you and you can come over and shake me like a rag doll.
What were your shi**iest jobs?
I don't think that the jobs were shi**y, I think I was. I did the typical stuff like waiting tables and catering. I was a forest fire fighter, briefly.
Did you get to put out any fires?
I did indeed.
It was cool if you weren't the guy basically scared and trying to run from the flames. I was also a bouncer.
Really? I can't see you as a bouncer.
I was the worst bouncer ever. You have to remember the premise of this question which is what are all the jobs you couldn't hold down. I'm not big nor am I courageous.
It must be very gratifying to be in a show that people love.
It's so nice to hear people say it's the only show they really sit down and watch and the one that is my absolute favorite is that it brings their family together, they're watching it with their kids. That's really more of a credit to the writers, I don't mean to slight us at all but ...
You're all just performing monkeys.
We're just dancing monkeys.
Now you're in demand and hot, does it make you laugh because three years ago you were just as talented?
I was never the kind of person with the self esteem saying five years ago, 'Man wait till you people find out what I'm really made of,' it's more of being in a state of shock that all of a sudden anybody would want to work with me. I'm still so confused.
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