written by Kevin Max
ABC’s hit-com “Modern Family” is a brilliant and funny commentary on upper middle-class suburbia told through the antics of three related families. Ty Burrell plays Phil Dunphy, the geeky but cool dad in the typical suburban family, married to an over-caffeinated, underappreciated wife, whose father and gay brother live with their respective families (and heightened drama) in nearby homes but vastly different worlds.
Burrell grew up in pastoral Applegate and Ashland in Southern Oregon. He played many minor roles in his acting career but may have found his “Frasier” role as Phil Dunphy. Some of his prior credits include Fred in Fair Game, the big screen adaptation of the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame, a backwoods butter-carving artist in Butter and two cameos on “Law & Order”—a humble tree falling in the woods. “I played an assassin in my second cameo on ‘Law & Order,’ but it was right on the heels of my first role as someone completely different,” says Burrell laughing. “So what they were telling me was that my first role was so forgettable that they could have me back as someone completely different the next day.”
Burrell, 44, now lives in Salt Lake City with his wife, Holly, and new daughter, Francis. He regularly treks back to Oregon, where his family still lives. 1859 caught up with him to talk about some oddities of growing up in Southern Oregon.
1 – Usually you’re greeted by a group of trustafarians hostilely … and then they try to beg money from you.
2 – You drive by vineyards and see the scattered remnants of old communes, and then you get to the guy with the canned goods and he’s heavily armed.
3 – The economy is completely driven by theater.
4 – You’re in Southern Oregon and Oregon if you even think about crossing the street and everybody stops, watches and waits.
5 – You used to know you were in Southern Oregon when you could see crops of weed between the leaves. Now they’re grape vines.
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