This feels like Julie Bowen‘s big television moment. Obviously she’s a star already — audiences have been loving the actress for years through her recurring roles on shows like Boston Legal, Lost and Weeds and in major movie roles opposite Adam Sandler and Tim Allen. She was also the co-star of NBC’s Ed — which ran for four seasons and was a modest hit — but now she has signed aboard a new series that looks ready to soar with her at the helm with an engaging character that further showcases her comic skills. Bowen co-stars as a beleaguered mother of three on the new ABC sitcom Modern Family, which debuts tonight at 9 PM and has deservedly generated major buzz prior to its airing. The series focuses on three families: Bowen’s somewhat normal but harried clan; a cross-generational unit with an older husband, younger wife and her preteen son from another marriage; and a gay couple who have adopted a child. The comic possibilities are rich for everyone involved, including Bowen, whose character Claire Dunphy strives to be an understanding, caring parent without obsessing over the idea that her kids will exhibit the same naughty behavior she did as a teenager.
ADD caught up with Bowen on the red carpet of the New York Television Festival this week to chat about the show and her thoughts on being a real-life and fictional mother. (For an interview with her Modern Family co-star Ty Burrell, click here.)
How have your experiences as a real-life mom played into developing your character, and how much do you think the show accurately reflects parenthood?
Let me tell you, getting out of my house in the morning in my real life means I get up at 4 o’clock in the morning. I pump, I feed my twins and make lunch for my two year-old, and then I get to work by 6 AM. So I don’t really need to do any preparation. I just need to get to work, and I’m completely haggard and ready to go. I’m the mom of three on TV. I have two families. I have my TV husband and my real husband.
How does the fatigue affect you? Do you ever accidentally confuse your husband Scott and your co-star/TV husband Ty Burrell?
You know, I’m lucky. My husband is fantastic and very funny and dry, and so is Ty Burrell. They actually do have quite a few similarities, but one I don’t go home with at night and one I do. If I confuse them it’s not a bad thing.
You were eight and a half months pregnant when you shot the pilot, so you hid behind a lot of laundry.
Once you know I’m pregnant, you can’t not see it, but I think they did a pretty good job of hiding it. There’s a lot of folding and carrying of large objects, and my middle [TV] child Luke is the exact belly height. And the laundry has actually become symbolic of how she is trying to create order out of chaos.
Do you think Ty will get some good parenting experiences from this in case he ever wants to be a dad?
We talk about parenting a lot because of the show and also because I have so many kids right now. I hope I keep them all. I’m not trying to get rid of any of my kids. Ty will be a great parent because he’s a good person, and I think that’s really just the key. You can have all the theories and philosophies you want, and we joke that his character is trying to be a good dad. His character is a good dad ultimately because he’s a good person. He’s dorky and makes mistakes, but we all do that. Ultimately these are people who love their kids and want to do right by them.
While every generation is defined as being 25 years, I feel like pop culture generations are only five years.
They’re quite close together, aren’t they?
Do you find it harder to keep up with kids today because technology is changing so quickly?
It’s so much fun though. I subscribe to people’s Twitters on the show, like Sarah Hyland, who plays my daughter, because I love her and I’m interested in the culture. I’m watching from the outside. It’s totally different from when we were kids. It’s totally different because everything is moving so fast. But did you think we would be emailing each other? Please. Two generations ago the thought of living together before you got married was crazy. Every generation has got to have its thing.