Freshman comedy Modern Family has filled a void in my life — I find myself laughing out loud each week, and I'm not the only one digging it. A huge part of the show's greatness can be attributed to its amazing cast; one of my favorites is Cameron — one half of a same-sex couple adjusting to life with a new baby. Eric Stonestreet, who plays Cam, sat down with me to talk about the show's crazy success and the real-life experience he used to portray a clown in next week's episode, "Fizbo."
- On whether he expected the show to be so successful: No. I had a very, very good idea that based on the writers’ history and their very extensive careers that we had a really, really good shot at being something great. Anybody that tells you in this business they knew it was going to be this well-received is crazy. Actually, being this well-received makes you a little nervous.
- On whether the success is a surprise: It’s a bit of a surprise with how outwardly supportive the critics have been, but by the same token, how outwardly supportive and sort of in love with the show fans have been. I think that’s the thing that really feels like lightning in a bottle — when you have both of those things in place. Typically, you have huge fan support and the critics tell you it’s the worst thing they’ve ever seen, or you have critical acclaim and the fans are like, 'what is this show, we don’t get it.' So I think the fact that we have both is rare and exciting.
To hear Eric spilling about upcoming episodes of Modern Family and his clown college rejection, just read more.
- On his real-life clown experience: I, as a kid, have early documented pictures of me being very intrigued by clowns. The circus came to town in Kansas City every year around my birthday, so naturally my parents took me for my birthday. Once I saw that clowns were people with makeup and funny wigs and costumes, I was in. By nine, I was getting clown suits made for me by my Grandma Louise, at 11 there were articles written about me in Kansas City about how I wanted to become a one-man show performing for senior citizens and kids forever. You’ll see that article in the episode "Fizbo" that was written about me then. I didn’t want to be an actor; I always wanted to be a clown, and acting sort of found me when I was in college. So to be able to bring back what inspired me to act as a kid to prime time is more than I would have ever imagined possible for myself.
- On whether he'd be a clown now if he weren't an actor: No. I auditioned for Barnum and Bailey Clown College and they denied me twice. They did not let me in, those clowns.
- On what's next for Cameron, Mitchell, and baby Lily: We have an episode coming up where we’re Ferberizing the baby when she won’t go to sleep, and Mitchell is very much committed to letting her cry it out, and Cameron of course can’t for the life of him imagine why you would let a baby cry it out like that, so there’s drama there. It’s what’s great about the show — yeah, they’re a couple of guys raising a baby, but the focus really on that relationship is the challenges of a relationship, the challenges of parenthood, and just trying to find the happy medium of keeping up a relationship while raising a kid.
- On the holiday episode: We have the Christmas episode coming up, where you find out that Cameron had created a choir group, a caroling group, a few years back and he was removed and kicked out of his own caroling group by one of the carolers. That episode is really about forgiveness and the Christmas spirit. It’s a very sweet episode.
- On his dream guest stars: I can’t imagine who else they’re going to get. That’s the brilliance and awe-inspiring aspect of this show, that people are watching it and people are enjoying it and willing to participate. I can’t wait to see who they find for Cameron’s parents. I have some ideas of who I want, but I’ll be excited to see who’s coming.