Ty Burrell is one of those actors that you recognize, but you can't quite put your finger on why. He's been acting for decades, but the big hit that thrust him into the spotlight has eluded him. That is, until he was cast as Phil Dunphy in Modern Family.
Ty began his career on the stage after growing up in Ashland, Oregon, home to the famous Oregon Shakespeare Festival. But then got his on-camera start in Ivan Reitman's Evolution and Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down.
His first regular role on a TV series was on the Christopher Lloyd creation, Out of Practice, playing the vain plastic surgeon, Oliver Barnes, alongside Henry Winkler and Stockard Channing. The show lasted only one season.
On his next sitcom, Back to You, produced and written by Lloyd and Steven Levitan, Burrell played field reporter Gary Crezyzewski. And even though this show co-starred big names Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton, it lasted only 17 episodes.
But Burrell continued to pop up in our subconscious booking TV guest spots on shows like Damages and small roles in movies like Dr. Leonard Samson in the 2008 blockbuster The Incredible Hulk.
So when it came time to cast their new sitcom, Modern Family, Levitan and Lloyd knew exactly who to cast as Phil Dunphy, the slightly delusional, trying to be hip, but falling-oh-so-short dad. Ty Burrell got the part and we'll never again say, "Where do I know that guy from?"
The cast and creative team behind ABC's Modern Family gathered for a panel discussion and screening at the Television Academy on March 3. Emmy magazine's Editor-in-Chief Juan Morales asked Ty about finally playing a nice guy in this video that was shot and edited by the Pop Culture Passionistas for the Archive of American Television.