Solo Talk With a Family Man

by Angel Cohn May 5, 2010
The Ty Burrell Interview

TWoP: Now you, specifically, have been getting a lot of buzz for your role. Is it nice to be the one getting a lot of attention?
Burrell: I don't know that I am getting more attention. I feel like we're pretty straight across the board. I definitely feel really grateful to play this part. It's invigorating to play because he's so positive. It gives me a tremendous amount of joy, and I hope that some of that comes across, because it's a joyful experience.

TWoP: Do you think you have a lot in common with Phil?
Burrell: When we first started, I really think I did have a lot in common with Phil. But the more I play Phil, the more I realize I'm getting a huge break from my neurotic brain by playing Phil. Recently, I've been equating Phil's brain to those noise machines you buy for your bedside-- there's a babbling brook, white noise, and wind in the trees. That's essentially Phil's noggin; It's just really peaceful and a simple respite from the bees buzzing in my head. That's, in part, why it's so fun to play him; He's turning out to be a lot more different than I am, which I'm actually grateful for. He is wonderfully reckless. I love how little he knows about the mess that he's leaving behind him. He's just super-positive, very happy, and literally, in that Buster Keaton way, things are just missing his head and landing right behind him, and somebody else is generally cleaning them up.

TWoP: And you have the great facial expressions to pull this off. I think that's what makes your character so appealing. Especially in the episode when he discovered his high school friend had a crush on him. The look on your face was perfect.
Burrell: [Laughs.] Well, I appreciate that. That one was particularly fun to do. I just really love getting to do the physical stuff. And Judy [Greer] and I had done a play together in New York a few years ago, so we already have had a blast performing together, so that was just really a joy.

TWoP: So, aside from Phil, do you have a favorite character on the show?
Burrell: At the moment, I'm starting to become more appreciative of my entire family. I love everybody, obviously, on the whole set, but when you work everyday with people, you really start to appreciate the work that they do, starting with Julie [Bowen], who's just totally game for anything. She's the most awesome of all the awesomeness that ever lived. And the kids! I think I'm really starting to -- as is the viewing audience -- everybody's sort of getting, by virtue of 24 episodes, a deeper look at Sarah, Ariel and Nolan. The stuff I've been doing with Nolan has been just a blast, kind of finding the parallels between the two of us.

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