Speaking with Rolling Stone, Modern Family co-star Ed O’Neill reveals where he might have been headed if he didn’t get into acting… and it’s a bit surprising.
It turns out O’Neill wasn’t always the lovable guy we know him as today. While talking about his youth, he reveals “I was drinking too much and fighting almost every night. I liked speed, too. Man, I liked speed.” After earning a rep around the neighborhood, O’Neill’s friends in the mafia in Youngstown, Ohio almost made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. He explains, “They said, ‘You’re a tough guy, we trust you, we could find some things for you to do, light work, collecting money.’ But I knew how that was going to end. It was going to end badly.”
O’Neill went on to star on television shows like Married… with Children and L.A. Dragnet before his current success as one of the leads on the ABC comedy Modern Family. Though O’Neill was game for the series from the get-go, he was initially passed over for the part because the producers wanted former Coach star Craig T. Nelson.
So how did O’Neill end up in the role? He explains, “After I read the pilot, all I could think was, ‘This is a hit!’ But the offer went to Craig T. Nelson. Then my manager tells me that Nelson asked for too much money. I said, ‘Make the deal.’ Craig T., I heard, wanted to fire every fucking body that was connected to him when the show started doing what it’s doing.”