Jesse Tyler Ferguson told Modern Family costar Eric Stonestreet to stop checking in about playing gay role
Jesse Tyler Ferguson is looking back at the gay representation on his hit sitcom Modern Family.
On the inaugural episode of his Dinner's on Me podcast, Ferguson reunited with costar Julie Bowen, who portrayed his onscreen sister, and reflected on the relationship between his character, Mitch, and Cam, played by Eric Stonestreet. Though Ferguson is gay, Stonestreet is not — and when asked by Bowen if he believed Stonestreet would be cast as a gay character in the current landscape, Ferguson said, "I think if you ask Eric, he would say no. In fact, I know he would say no because we've had this conversation."
"Not because he's not wildly talented," Bowen said.
"I just don't think we're in a moment right now where that's the right choice," Ferguson acknowledged. "But at the same time, it's tricky because he's a part of pop culture history. I don't think anyone could imagine Mitch and Cam without him as Cam."
Eric McCandless via Getty Images Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet on 'Modern Family'
The actor praised his former costar for delivering "a really hilarious, nuanced performance." And shared, "To see it up close every day, I found a lot of nuance in that character. Whether or not all that nuance made it to the final edit is another thing."
Ferguson also shared that Stonestreet made it a point to check in with him about portraying a gay man, which he had to tell his TV husband to stop doing. "He would always kind of check in with me to make sure he's on the right track," he said. "And finally I was like, 'You need to stop doing that 'cause you're doing a really great job."
Ferguson and Stonestreet played the married couple throughout all 11 seasons of the Emmy-winning ABC sitcom, which aired between 2009 and 2020. Both were nominated for Emmys multiple times, with Stonestreet winning Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series twice. Told through a documentary lens, Modern Family followed several generations of the blended Pritchett family, headed by patriarch Jay (Ed O'Neill) and his second wife (Sofía Vergara). Ty Burrell, Sarah Hyland, Nolan Gould, Ariel Winter, Rico Rodriguez, and Aubrey Anderson-Emmons also starred.
Stonestreet reflected on portraying Cam on a radio show back in 2016, sharing that viewers have mostly reached out in gratitude. "We wanted to create a couple that people could relate to and enjoy watching," he said. "The agenda has never been to do anything other than make people laugh. That's all we want to do, is make people laugh, and if that opens people's hearts and minds with the idea that people are people no matter their race, creed, gender, sexual orientation, then we're successful in another area. That's a positive."
Listen to Ferguson's inaugural Dinner's on Me episode with Bowen above. New episodes drop every Tuesday on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and other podcast outlets.
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