The Modern Family Cast's Table Read of the Season 5 Premiere

By Jason Leung | Jul 10th, 2014

To commemorate Modern Family's 12 Emmy nominations for 2013 and the show's return on ABC this fall, the cast and creators presented a live table read of the upcoming Season 5 season premiere episode for members of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

There won't be any spoilers here, but the one thing we can tease from the premiere is that table read's funniest scene (the audience was laughing for minutes) was originally written a lot longer (four pages!) and much filthier than what you'll see on the Modern Family season premiere on ABC Wednesday, September 25 9|8c. You'll just have to wait to find out what that scene is, but in the meantime the cast and writing staff did reveal some juicy details on what goes on behind the scenes of the show.


The cast of Modern Family at the live table read performance of the Season 5 premiere episode:
(from left to right) Nolan Gould (Luke), Ariel Winter (Alex), Sarah Hyland (Haley), Ty Burrell (Phil), Julie Bowen (Claire),
Ed O'Neill (Jay), Sofia Vergara (Gloria), Rico Rodriguez (Manny), Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Mitchell) and Eric Stonestreet (Cameron).

A Real-Life Arrest Pays Off for Sarah Hyland and the Writers

One of the challenges for the writers is figuring out how to keep the kids on the show when they'll eventually go to college. For Haley, the solution was to get her arrested and kicked out of school, which was inspired by a real-life event. Co-creator Steven Levitan was struggling to figure out how to keep Haley in the story when one of his friends confided in him that his son had just got kicked out of college after getting arrested at a party.

"Well, thank god for that kid," joked Sarah Hyland. It turns out that the "Arrested" episode is Sarah's favorite since she's always wanted a mug shot but has never wanted to be arrested to get her photo taken.

According to Alex, "Even her mug shots are cute." See Haley's pictures from her arrest.

Ariel Winter, Sarah Hyland and Ty Burrell

Ed O'Neill's favorite Modern Family moment involved him doing this

See an animated GIF of Eric Stonestreet's favorite moment from Modern Family

What was Rico Rodriguez's favorite Modern Family moment?

Sofia Vergara's Reaction to Playing Pregnant
"I was begging them to cut it off!" Sofia Vergara said about the prosthetic stomach, but she added, "I had fun dressing a belly."

The cast said Gloria is the most like her character, although Sofia denied it saying, "I just look like Gloria." Jesse Tyler Ferguson was quick to point out, "She has a purse with her name on it!"

Sofia's favorite part of her purse? "The mirror!" she said proudly.

Lily Is Bette Davis
Steve Levitan revealed how the writers try hard not to make the kids cutesy and with Lily (Aubrey Anderson-Emmons), they went really far the other way. "It quickly became one of our favorite things to write for Lily just to be... brutal." Because of her unapologetic and biting wit, the writers say she's sometimes written like Bette Davis or comes across like a 55-year-old woman, but they chalk that up to her having overheard it from Mitch or Cam.

RELATED: See photos from Lily's Oscar party photo shoot.

Eric Stonestreet asserts that Aubrey is on a different wavelength than other kids. He adds that she "isn't this cutesy little girl. She's got some edge to her. She's hilarious." During the episode "Bad Hair Day," when Cam was doing her Hollywood photo shoot, everyone on set was complimenting how good she looked in her wig and Aubrey replied, "Sometimes a lady can be both dramatic and beautiful."

On Aubrey's first day on set, she apparently asked the cast, "Are you real people?" Jesse explains that she followed up her question with "Because you live in a fake house."

Just like Cam is with his precious Lily, Eric is protective of Aubrey and is quick to defend her:
Eric Stonestreet: "I tell you, if you want to rile me up on Twitter, say something bad about her. People have no tact on Twitter. They feel like it's open season to attack a kid and their acting abilities. She's five!"
Jesse Tyler Ferguson: "I was drunk tweeting! It was a rough day..."

Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet

We Argue like Crazy
One of Jesse's favorite episodes from the past season was the Valentine's Day episode "Heart Broken," in which each act focused on a self-contained story about one of the families (co-creator Christopher Lloyd suggested the unique format). Jesse's mere mention of the episode, immediately got writer Dan O'Shannon up in arms criticizing that episode's format, while other writers praised the episode's unique structure.

"What do we do in the [writers] room?" asked Dan rhetorically. "We argue like crazy."

When Nolan Gould struggled to pick his favorite episode, Ariel Winter playfully ordered him, "You like them all so we don't get debated!"

Nolan Gould and Ariel Winter

Julie Bowen's 5-Year-Old Son Fired Her Housekeeper
Julie Bowen says she suspects the story line of Dylan getting kicked out of the house by Lily (in "Heart Broken") was based on "when my son in real life fired the housekeeper we were too afraid to fire." She added, "We just sat there and let it happen."

On the flipside of real-life inspiration, Jesse explains that his father is married to a beautiful, much younger woman (Jesse insists she's "no Sofia Vergara"), and his dad is convinced that the Jay and Gloria relationship is based on them.

Ty Burrell Is a Stress Blinker
Remember when Phil had to fire Mitchell in Season 3? Mitchell knew something was up because Phil's poker tell was his constant blinking. Ty Burrell says that whole story line was created because he blinks too much in real life when he's stressed or excited. Jesse first noticed Ty's tic when they were at an awards show and they were trying to coordinate their cars and the parking situation.

Sarah Hyland, Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen
Ty describes Phil as a dog who can talk.

What Happened to Mitch and Cam Adopting a Son?
For all of Season 3, the writers were planning on having Mitch and Cam adopt a second child before Gloria ended up being the one who'd be welcoming a new baby.

Writer Jeffrey Richman: "We could never decide on the character of the child that they were going to adopt without falling into some unfresh space."
Julie Bowen: "An unfresh space? Where is that? Is that what you call a gay household?!?"

Eric Stonestreet Scolds the Audience
After an audience member's cell phone continued to ring during the Q&A session with the cast, Eric Stonestreet -- who was folding script pages into paper airplanes -- finally burst out, "You know that has silent, right? You just flip a switch and it just makes no noise. New technology." After that, the only thing that could be heard was laughter and zero cell phones. He did throw out a few paper airplanes, though.

Don't miss the 1-hour Season 5 premiere of Modern Family on ABC Wednesday, September 25 at 9|8c.

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