Interview: ‘Modern Family’s’ Ariel Winter Talks Inside Jokes And Who Gives Her Advice On Set


Modern Family needs no introduction. Its a huge ABC hit with an even bigger following. Its brought us quick one liners, a thirty minute pick me up each week and the Dunphy family we all wish we could be a apart of for just one day. Its also brought us without a doubt, break out actress Ariel Winter. At 13-years-old, Ariel has booked work in everything from film to television that include roles in ER, Bones, Criminal Minds, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and Horton Hears a Who! 

With a perky attitude and an obvious maturity, Ariel left us wondering how she could only be 13 while she clued us in on some behind the scenes scoop. So check out what actor she’s closest to on set, what other dad besides Phil she’d like to act with and how the cast reacted the day after they won their 2011 Emmy for Best Comedy Series.

When did you know you wanted to start acting? What was your first job?

My very first job was a Cool Whip commercial. I’ve always known I really, really wanted to act but I think, as I got older–once I hit eight- I knew immediately. Once I started doing movies and television I knew immediately that this is everything I’ve ever wanted to do. I love acting. I love playing a different character. It’s just a passion. It’s like Halloween 365 days a year!

Do you take classes on the Modern Family set?

I do school with Nolan and Rico. Every day we do three hours of school when we’re on set. It’s cool to go to school on a set. Not many kids can say that they do so I think I’m pretty lucky about that. I’d rather be in like a home schooled or online school while on set just because if I didn’t act and had to go to public school I’d be really sad because I love acting.

The show is of course a huge hit and won an Emmy for Best Comedy Series in 2011. So well deserved! Did you and the cast think you were going to win?

Each year its like we could win, but we’re going to be happy for everybody because we are just so grateful to be nominated. So many of those amazing shows, I mean we watch the other shows and we’re like, ‘this is so amazing. I can’t believe they’re recognizing us among these people.’ And I think every year it’s just a blessing and we’re lucky. Julie and Ty definitely deserved their win that night and we’re so happy for them. They’re incredibly humble. They really deserved it.

What was it like the next day? Is it straight back to work?

It’s totally just straight back to work. We all carry around our little Emmy. The other actors, we don’t get Emmys. The producers and writers all get Emmys so we carry around their Emmys sometimes like ‘Well I’m not coming out of my trailer, I have an Emmy!’ [Laughs] We never mean it though. We’re one of those sets where we actually treat each other like family…we are all a family. We genuinely love each other and we’re genuinely happy when something happens for the other one.

What’s your favorite episode with your character Alex and with the cast?

My favorite episode as Alex would be ‘Dude Ranch.’ It was definitely a changing episode for Alex, growing up and evolving. I really like that the show is starting to kind of give her, her own personality in a sense. I really like my character in that episode and in the third season because I’m becoming more of a role model. I like that because all of my fans can see that it’s cool to be smart and be funny and be popular. And you can just be yourself and that you don’t have to act like somebody else to be your best. You yourself, you’re perfect as just the way you are and I really like that. I like how Alex is kind of preaching that to the whole world.

My favorite episode as a cast, that’s really my favorite episode as a cast. I wouldn’t be able to pick one. Its like our whole show is SNL crazy so it’s kind of hard to pick a favorite episode.

Alex Dunphy is definitely branching out. Have you thought of any story lines you’d like her to do in the future?

There are a lot of story lines that I’ve thought about. One would be–I know this is going to sound crazy–but I really think Andy Samberg should guest star as a teacher or something. He can be a teacher that can take over the school…or like having the whole school accepting the nerds. I think that would be a really good episode but I’m really plugging in this whole Andy Samberg thing because I think it should happen. [Laughs]

Is there any inside jokes or traditions on set?

We never say ‘Oh my God.’ Its always ‘No my God’ because of Jesse Tyler Ferguson. He came up with that. So every time there’s something shocking we go, ‘No my God!’ [Laughs] We have a lot of funny things. Julie’s always doing very weird yoga in the hair and makeup trailer. She does this funny stuff where she stands on her head and hands and her feet are in the air. Ty is always making jokes and every time he comes in in the morning he goes, ‘Where’s the coffee?’ Everyone has their little corks when they come in. So we have a lot of fun things that everyone does on the set.

You’re all clearly funny. Who’s the biggest jokester?

Nolan Gould for the kids is probably the biggest jokester. Adults, I wouldn’t be able to pick one. It’s just so funny with what they do. I wouldn’t be able to pick one out of them–Eric or Ty might be the biggest jokesters on set.

Is there someone who’s a bit more serious? If being serious is even possible on set.

I’m not serious but I know my lines! I don’t think anybody really is really serious on our set. I always know my lines. I have a photographic memory. I just kind of take a mental picture of how things look on a page and then I can remember what the line is. Its odd but it comes in handy. I’m very grateful for my photographic memory. My parents may say that I can’t remember everything they tell me though. [Laughs]

Is there someone you go to for advice or spend the most time with?

We all see each other at events and we’re always hanging out, but I’d probably say I’m probably the closest to Julie Bowen. She’s always giving me motherly advice even when it’s something really crazy. She’s always helping me out with my situations because she’s a girl and she knows how things go so she helps me out with boys. So does Sarah Hyland and Ty Burrell. They all really help me out. They are like real family to me. I always tell Nolan Gould all of my secrets. Not all of my boy secrets, he already thinks I’m boy crazy. I don’t tell him all of my secrets because he’s very likely to steal them. [Laughs] But you know I’m always telling Julie and Ty a lot of things about life. They are really good TV parents.

That’s hilarious about Nolan and nice that you have that bond with Julie and Ty! If you had to choose, which dad would you act alongside besides Phil Dunphy?

I’d have to say Ed O’Neill. Ed O’Neill is an incredibly amazing actor. He’s an incredible guy and we’re just so lucky to have him on our set and to be able to work with him. I am so lucky that I actually get to spend time with him each day on the set. He’s so cool and honestly, I’d give him bragging points. I would allow him to brag because he’s incredible. He was in Married With Children for eleven years. He’s so humble and I would love to have more scenes with him. All of the guys really are like my family. I’ve worked with Jesse, Eric and Ty this season–if I could work with Ed that would be a blast.

That would be an interesting change for Alex to act more with Jay! How’s the new Lily doing?

Oh, Aubrey [Anderson-Emmons] is so cute! She’s such an adorable baby and she’s so smart. For a four year old she really knows her lines. She comes in and she knows her mark. She says things and she has personality when she says them. She’s great! We’re really lucky to have Aubrey. We’ll always miss Jaden and Ella [Hiller] but things change. We got Aubrey and we love all of the babies since we’ve bonded with each one of them. We bonded with Aubrey right away when we met her at the photo shoot. She’s an adorable, sweet little baby and she gave me a hug the first time I met her. I was like, ‘Oh my God I love this child!’ [Laughs] So we get along great.

One of your passions is clearly acting. What are your three other Ologies?

Mine are traveling, iPhone, family and then boys. I have to put boys last because my family would be like, ‘Um, why are we number four and not number three?’ [Laughs] My family might actually be number one. Family would be number one, then iPhone, then traveling. No, I’d say put traveling at number four and do boys at number three.


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