Fred Willard Q&A: ‘Modern Family’
“He obviously loves me as his dad. We have the same sense of humor,” reveals Fred Willard about working with Ty Burrell as father and son on ABC’s “Modern Family.” In our recent webchat (watch the exclusive video above), the actor and comedian adds, “I can joke with him and he’ll say, ‘Oh, Dad, cut it out. He just plays right along with it.”
Willard has appeared as an occasional guest star throughout the eight seasons so far playing Frank Dunphy, retired father of Phil Dunphy on the comedy. He received an Emmy nomination for the first season in 2010 to go along with three others he has in his career for his guest work on “Everybody Loves Raymond” (2003, 2004, 2005).
For the most recent season, Willard was on the program three times including episodes featuring his bachelor party and marriage to Lorraine (Faith Prince). Known as being one of the best improvisational comedians for decades, Willard discusses whether he is allowed to use that skill by showrunners Steven Levitan and Christopher Lloyd. He says, “The first few years, do the script a couple of times and let it go wider and wider. Now it’s pretty much they shoot the script and you can get off the script. They’re not going to come up and check each word unless you make a mistake. So they’re pretty loose and give you a little room.”
Willard won a Daytime Emmy Award two years ago for his guest role on “The Bold and the Beautiful.” He first became well known to audiences in the fictional talk show “Fernwood Tonight” starring Martin Mull. In addition to many appearances on such TV shows as “The Golden Girls,” “Murphy Brown,” and “Roseanne” (also opposite Mull), he has worked with Christopher Guest on all of his movies, including “Waiting for Guffman,” “Best in Show,” and “A Mighty Wind.”