Image Credit: Bob D’Amico/ABCIn episode three of Modern Family, Cameron (Eric Stonestreet) says, “I’m sort of like Costco. I’m big, I’m not fancy, and I dare you to not like me.” Well, as it turns out, everybody loves him — including the Emmys. Shortly after discovering he had received a nod, Stonestreet called up EW to chat about his work on the ABC comedy — which received a whopping 14 nominations — and make a case as to why his nominated co-stars (Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ty Burrell, Julie Bowen, and Sofia Vergara) should pick up the trophy.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Since Modern Family is a freshman series, did you expect it would get so many nominations?
ERIC STONESTREET: No. Not until the last couple of weeks when you start reading articles written by folks like you that say this is going to be a nomination, that is going to be a nomination. I felt like our editors deserved nominations. I feel like our writers could put any of those episodes that those guys wrote up for a writing Emmy. I was disappointed only the pilot got nominated. I figured they’d get those. But the acting, especially the supporting acting categories, is really tough. There’s some really talented actors out there in that category, so I had no expectations for myself. And 14 is great. What did Glee get, 19? Yeah, well there you go.
And what about the Ed O’Neill snub?
I don’t know that it was a major snub. I think that Ty [Burrell] said it best, which is that it’s awesome that now there’s a conversation about how brilliant of an actor Ed O’Neill is. That’s one positive out of it. Another thing is that you know in an odd weird way, Ed not getting nominated is sort of a compliment to who he is as a person because of who he is, being a bonafide TV icon. Most other actors would have submitted themselves for leading man in a comedy series. He’s the patriarch of the family, and he certainly would have had a case to do that. He specifically said, “I know for a fact, I’m supporting or nothing.” Because that’s how he looks at himself. He’s a member of the ensemble. Ed knows how much we love him and that he’s our leader. He gives us all such great advice on the set. I left a message for him yesterday just saying I can’t wait to get back to work and learn from him every day. I guarantee you he’s thinking 20 times less about this than anyone else. And that also is a testament to who he is. Ed’s a great guy. Ed’s going to be okay. We love him so much. He is our leader, and he knows that.
If you can’t win the Emmy, make a case for your co-stars Jesse and Ty:Jesse should win because he has red hair. And he has very sunburn-able skin. I don’t know that there’s ever been a red-haired man to win the best supporting actor [in a comedy]. And, also, nobody ever talks about this, but I’m straight, and I play a gay character. He’s gay and he plays the straight man in our relationship. And that’s kind of funny. Ty Burrell is hilarious. He’s a brilliant physical comedian. He is so funny. Ty Burell is just a nice, nice guy. I feel like one of us should win because we’re nice people. I told Ty when we got nominated for a TCA award that [I was] most honored to be nominated with [him]. And we’re on the same show. Honestly, those guys both deserve to win.
And what about your female co-stars Julie and Sofia?
I say we have Mary Ann and Ginger on our show. Gilligan’s Island had Kansas and Hollywood, and we’ve got Colombia and America on our show. Either one of those ladies deserves to win. I’m glad [Julie] got this nomination because in the beginning, a lot of people felt her character was sort of flat or not that important. She grounds the show. I think either one of those ladies has a great shot and winning and are really deserving.
What do you hope to see happen with your character, Cameron, in season 2?
I think we’re going to meet some of Cam’s family. We’ve met Jesse’s mom. We’ve met Ty’s dad. And I think this year we’ll for sure meet a parent figure in Cameron’s life. I’m really excited about that. I’m also looking forward to having more stuff with Ed. I feel like they really started to build that relationship that’s unique. It really challenges the audience. What we like to do is educate and teach people tolerance and acceptance and things like that in addition to being funny. And that’s a great vehicle to let people see that everyone deserves each other’s respect. I’m really looking forward to doing some stuff with Ty [as well]. He and I are good friends. We love to improvise, although I’m sure the writers and directors are like, “Oh God if we put these two in a scene together we’ll be here all day because they’ll never shut up.” I know we’re both looking forward to finding out what Cam and Phil’s relationship is too.
What’s your favorite thing about playing Cameron?
What I loved that they started to do with Cameron, which again I think was a brilliant stroke from our writers, is that they’ve created a character you like. Let’s just assume that people like Cameron. But then they give Cameron these sort of off-putting and off-color remarks and jokes, which I think is so funny. I’ll always fight for Cameron to be sort of the guy who accidentally offends people by the things he says. Because I think we can all relate to that. We never quite know what the right thing to say is. When you trust and love someone’s heart, it’s forgivable and understandable when someone may not say the right thing. I love being able to play that line of awkward discomfort, because no one would ever question at this point whether Cameron is mean-spirited.