Archive for the 'Interviews' Category
Ty Burrell was presented with an award for his gay rights advocacy by his Modern Family co-star Jesse Tyler Ferguson on Saturday at the 10th annual Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Utah Gala Dinner at the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City.
“Ty is an amazing guy and he’s an incredibly passionate advocate of equality,” Ferguson said in presenting the award. “And the thing that makes Ty such an amazing ally is his complete cluelessness. And I mean that in the best way. His default mode is inclusiveness and fairness.”
In accepting his award, Burrell said such an honor would not have been possible were it not for the efforts of activists who came before him.
“I say this award comes to me because of the hard work of others for two main reasons. Number one: It’s easier to be an ally for equality right now on Earth than it ever has been. And that’s due to the hard work and sacrifice, sometimes the ultimate sacrifice, of so many thousands of people gay and straight who helped us get to this moment.”
“Number two, because I’m part of a show that’s made a real difference in the way people view same-sex relationships.”
“I’m honored to stand with you all tonight, and, yes, I’m even humbled,” he added.
He plays a bumbling dad on ABC’s “Modern Family,” but in Salt Lake City Ty Burrell is trying out for a role as restaurateur.
Burrell has just opened Beer Bar, a beer garden-like eatery that serves 150 beers paired up with an array of house-made bratwursts, local breads and Belgian fries. The restaurant, which has high ceilings and long tables and benches to evoke that Bavarian beer hall feel, is next door to the cocktail bar Burrell co-owns with an equally simple name, Bar X.
“It’s a super simple menu, which is what we wanted from the beginning,” says Burrell, sporting a scruffy beard and glasses. “Basic, but well-made and local. Instead of putting the energy into a lot of elements, making sure you have fewer elements and you are taking the time to make them right.”
For the menu, the Emmy-winning actor teamed up with Viet Pham, an up-and-coming Salt Lake City chef who was one of Food and Wine magazine’s best new chefs in 2011. Burrell met Pham when he and his wife ate at Forage, Pham’s Salt Lake City restaurant, and were blown away by Pham’s cooking. It turned out that Pham was a fan of Bar X, and the seeds for the future partnership were planted.
The bar and restaurant cement Burrell’s roots in Salt Lake City, known less for attracting Hollywood types and more as host of the 2002 Winter Olympics and home to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Though born and raised in Oregon, Burrell says he now feels very much like a “Salt Laker,” having lived in the city since 2008. He and his wife, who was born and raised in Utah, live here part of the year with their two young daughters when Burrell is not in Los Angeles filming Modern Family or working on other projects.
“I loved it from the first time I got here,” he said. “It’s a very unassuming place, it’s a very humble place.”
Burrell said he often gets bemused looks from his Hollywood friends when they find out he owns a bar and beer garden in Utah — famous for its teetotaling culture and strict liquor laws.
“There’s usually some sort of confusion about why I’ve opened a bar in Salt Lake,” he said Burrell, laughing.
ASHLAND, OREGON – Ty Burrell, more commonly known as the lovable dad Phil Dunphy from Modern Family, filled the Ashland Armory Saturday night with a discussion focusing on the actor’s upbringing and career. The Armory was so filled, in fact, that this writer was only able to enter the Armory thanks to a young man named Broderick giving away his extra tickets. Thank you, Broderick.
However, it is no surprise that there was such a demand to see Ty Burrell. Not only was the actor raised in the Rogue Valley, but he’s starred in several blockbuster films such as Black Hawk Down, The Incredible Hulk, Dawn of the Dead, and Mr. Peabody and Sherman. Burrell graduated from Southern Oregon University, and shared the main stage with his childhood friend and SOU’s Professor Miles Inada.
“Um, I know everyone here,” opened Ty Burrell, who recognized many audience members from his childhood. “This is like a beautiful hallucination”. Burrell and Inada talked about the experience of growing up in a small community like Applegate, where Burrell’s parents owned the Applegate Store. They recounted playing soccer and football growing up, which Burrell drew parallels to. “That’s why sports people hate theatre people. They’re the same thing,” said Burrell. “You try out, you practice, you learn the plays, you improvise, and the coach or director screams at you.
During his time at SOU, Burrell worked as a bartender for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which helped fuel his passion for acting. When asked about his career prior to acting, Burrell laughed. “There were very charitable people who kept me employed.” Burrell revealed that the main reason he pursued a Masters degree was to escape the fear of having to audition for real work. “I’m not a confident person,” said the Emmy award winning actor.
A large part of the evening was devoted to discussing Burrell’s most famous role, Phil Dunphy on Modern Family. Burrell thoroughly enjoys the character. “How can I go to work playing such a good-natured person and feel anything but great?” he said. When one audience member asked if he connected with Phil Dunphy, Burrell responded, “Sadly, yes. You can’t play oblivious unless you’re used to people telling you what you missed.”
Towards the end of the discussion, Miles Inada noted that despite becoming famous, Ty Burrell has remained eerily, completely unchanged. Burrell’s humility and pleasantness seems to indicate this is no exaggeration.
Ty Burrell is not an especially funny man. He’s sorry about that. “I don’t want to let anyone down here,” he says with a rueful grin. “When you get on a comedy show, people assume you’re a comedian. I’d say I’m more of a comedy nerd.”
He certainly looks the part, wearing geek-chic glasses, with thick, square frames. Add to that a decidedly thoughtful demeanour, and the resemblance between Burrell and the character that made him famous – Modern Family’s farcical “cool dad”, Phil Dunphy – soon begins to fade.
And yet, as Burrell fusses around me in the Los Angeles hotel suite where we have met, administering to every social nicety expected of a host putting a guest at ease, it becomes clear that, like Dunphy, he is a man who genuinely cares about people. And like his well-meaning but disaster-prone character, he’s also upbeat, amiable, and so nice it knocks you sideways. He’s just not stupid. Dunphy, on the other hand, has a Tumblr account dedicated to his “Phil’s-osophies” – “Dance until your feet hurt. Sing until your lungs hurt. Act until you’re William Hurt.”