Modern Family would be a very different show if the original casting choices had played out. The role of Jay Pritchett was initially supposed to go to Craig T. Nelson instead of Ed O’Neill.
“When I read it I thought, ‘Oh boy, this is pretty good,” O’Neill said in an interview with Huffington Post. “And I called my manager and he said, ‘Well, they’re out to Craig T. Nelson.’”
The casting director, Jeff Greenberg, said the role came down to the two actors. But they decided to offer the part to Nelson. “And so the first offer went out to Craig and we couldn’t make a deal,” Greenberg said. “He wanted to do it, but financially we were just too apart.”
Nelson spoke to Access Hollywood in 2011 about the money issue. “I’m old enough to say it, I guess. That was it,” Nelson said about the financial aspect of joining the show. “I really wanted to do Modern Family and I really liked the script and I liked the people. I just said, ‘You know what? I’ve been doing this too long.’ We’re in the middle of a cutback here, ladies and gentlemen, in Hollywood and salaries have gone way, way down.”
Nelson soon joined the cast of NBC’s Parenthood, and O’Neill was given the part that has earned him three Emmy nominations. Looks like Nelson should have considered a smaller salary after all.