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Q&A: Jesse Tyler Ferguson of ‘Modern Family’

Category Starring on Broadway

|by Jeryl Brunner |

Meet Broadway veteran Jesse Tyler Ferguson

Broadway veteran Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Fully Committed, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, On the Town) has been playing Mitchell Pritchett on ABC’s Modern Family since 2009. The ninth season of the hit series begins on September 27, 2017. A passionate chef and foodie he has a cooking blog with Julie Tanous, And, Ferguson also recently partnered with Pepcid to help others eat the foods they love without worrying about heartburn.

Broadway veteran Jesse Tyler Ferguson of ‘Modern Family’ (Photo: Michael Simon, StarTraks)

Broadway veteran Jesse Tyler Ferguson of ‘Modern Family’ (Photo: Michael Simon, StarTraks)

When did you know you had to be a performer? 
Jesse Tyler Ferguson:
I remember going to see a performance at a local children’s theater for a production of Alice in Wonderland, and I was sitting in the audience loving what I was seeing. But I also had a deep desire to be on the stage. That was sort of my first foray into acting. Up until that point, I wanted to be a baker because I loved sweets. I wanted to make cake. 

Then, I saw a play for the first time and was like no, I actually want to be an actor. I didn’t go through any formal training as a kid though, other than attending a theater camp on Saturdays. My first exposure to being an actor and being an artist wasn’t until I moved to New York and started acting school, but I think the acting seed was planted very early on. For me, there was never any question in mind about what I was going to do.

Congratulations on Modern Family being renewed for its ninth and tenth seasons! How would you like to see Mitch evolve? 
A lot of people ask me this. It’s one of the things that takes me back to how much I loved Friends growing up. You never wanted to see Monica not being neurotic or Joey not being a womanizer. When people ask me what I want to see from Mitch, I guess I want to see him more like who he already is because I think that’s what the fans want to see. It’s sort of comforting to turn on your TV and see Mitch the neurotic lawyer who’s a little more uptight and a little too serious for Cam sometimes. I like that. It’s a fun thing to play. I don’t necessary want him to evolve that much. And I don’t think his fans want him to either. With that being said, he’s sort of at a lull in his career, and I’d like him to either switch careers or have a little more success. His character is a bit frustrated where he is at career-wise. I’d like him to listen to some of the advice that I just gave and maybe bounce back from that a little bit. I want to see Mitch try something new.

You were so wonderful as Leaf Coneybear in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Do you have plans to come back to Broadway? 
Theater is my first love, and where I started. I am always looking for opportunities to get back on stage, whether it’s Broadway or Off Broadway. I just did something at the Hollywood Bowl. It was really exciting. Being in front of a live audience is always an opportunity I’m looking for. I love doing new work, new plays and musicals. That’s where I found my success before I found success on TV. 

What role on Broadway would you love to play? 
When people ask what my next project is, I don’t know because it maybe hasn’t been written yet. I just did a workshop with the new musical about Dominique Dunne in NYC, and I was really taken by it. I’d like to see it go a little bit further and see what that has to offer me. I love doing Shakespeare. There are a lot of Shakespeare plays that I’d like to tackle. I’d like to do a production of A Midnightsummer Night’s Dream or Hamlet. I’m getting a little old now to play Hamlet, so if that opportunity came around, I’d definitely jump at it.

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