Ty Burrell on Crafting Modern Family’s Sweet Dum-Dum Phil

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Modern Family’s Ty Burrell might make being a sweet dope look as easy as rolling down a hill, but like all cheery TV boobs before him, Phil’s obtuseness is the result of Burrell’s painstaking attention to The Craft. “He has a level of obliviousness that is, to me, more akin to a dog personality,” the actor explains. “He’s so excited in general.” Having a writing staff and director cued into the cast’s needs makes the creation of a character that much easier. As Burrell explains, “One of the very important things is keeping things on set really light all day long, and a good director will consciously craft that experience because you don’t want to deflate the mood.” In his experience, the single-camera comedy inherently allows for more actor input than multi-camera, “Then, if something is lending itself towards caricature, or it’s too easy a joke, [the writers] are usually the first ones saying, ‘OK, we need to mess with that a bit’ – and that’s a fun process, one where we get to be a part of the conversation.” Says Burrell, “I love playing someone who is constantly screwing up positively… because he’s so excited about being a great dad or something he’s doing for Claire. And then there’s always the backtracking to cover up [the mistake], and playing that can be just as fun.”