Meet The 'Modern Family' Cast That Could Have Been (But We're Glad Wasn't)

We can’t imagine a more perfect cast that the one that Modern Family already has. Every single of one of them has made the roles their own, almost like they were written with them in mind. So you’ll be surprised to hear that hardly any of them were the first choice for the parts! But who did the producers have lined up before the perfect cast finally came together?

Modern Family Alternate Cast Craig T. Nelson was first choice to play Modern Family patriarch Jay Pritchett

Family patriarch Jay Pritchett was originally pegged to be played by Emmy Award winner Craig T. Nelson. Best known for his role as Hayden Fox in Coach and as the voice of Mr. Incredible in the 2004 animated film The Incredibles, producers originally approached Nelson although his pay expectations were too high. Ed O’Neill, who the role eventually went to (and who just IS Jay) explained, “When I read [the script] I thought, ‘Oh boy, this is pretty good.’ And I called my managed and he said, ‘Well, they’re out to Craig T. Nelson.’” We’re grateful that they couldn’t afford Nelson because no-one plays grumpy good guy Jay Pritchard quite like Ed O’Neill.  We're also sure that Nelson is kicking himself since Sofia Vergara could have been his onscreen wife!  We wonder if he'd known that to begin with it would have made a difference?

Modern Family Alternate CastWould Matt LeBlanc have made a good Phil Dunphy?

Friends actor Matt LeBlanc was first choice to play goofy Phil Dunphy. Sure, LeBlanc played Joey, who was also pretty goofy, but he’s not really the right brand of adorkable in our opinion. The role ended up going to Ty Burrell who totally owns it now.

MORE: Modern Family bosses to cover wedding costs in New York

Julie Bowan wasn’t even the second choice to play Jay’s daughter and Phil’s wife, Claire Dunphy. 3rd Rock from the Sun actress Kristen Johnson and Friends actress Lisa Kudrow were both frontrunners for the role. Johnson has proved herself an excellent comic actress but would she have had that edge of neuroticism to play highly strung Claire? Same goes for Kudrow. Although we would have quite liked to have seen Kudrow and LeBlanc reunited, they were great together back in the Friends days. Julie Bowan has all of Claire’s little quirks down to a tee, so she may have been third in the running but she’s first in our eyes!

Modern Family Alternate CastLisa Kudrow was a first choice to play Claire Dunphy

So, Jesse Tyler Ferguson did make the final Modern Family cut, but did you know that he was originally set to play Cam and not Mitchell? We can’t describe how happy we are that the producers found Eric Stonestreet to play Cam and cast Ferguson as Mitchell instead. Cam is by far one of the best things about the show, we wonder if it would have been half as successful without him?

MORE: Reasons why Andy the Manny is our favourite Modern Family character


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Tags: Craig T Nelson - Ed O'Neill - Kristen Johnson - Lisa Kudrow - Jesse Tyler Ferguson - Eric Stonestreet - Ty Burrell - Julie Bowen


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