Dark Secrets The Cast Of Modern Family Tried To Hide

ABC's hit sitcom Modern Family has become a staple of the modern sitcom realm, enjoying the rare distinction of both critical acclaim and impressive viewership. While the cast list has grown over the years, all of the essential originals have remained firmly in place and have enjoyed significant career upticks as a result of their roles. Despite the fact that the show presents a happy home for all the members of the Pritchett-Dunphy tribes, though, there have been a number of behind-the-scenes moments of real-life drama surrounding the stars of Modern Family.

Ariel Winter dealt with intense family struggles

When Ariel Winter first assumed the role of brainiac middle child Alex Dunphy on the show, she was barely into double digits in age, so she's grown up right before the public's eyes just like a lot of her co-stars. However, Winter has suffered a particularly grim off-screen life that's been buried beneath her character's quips and anecdotes, as she had to be emancipated from her mother at the age of 17 after an intense court custody battle over her guardianship.

The young actress claimed that she was physically and emotionally abused by her mother and was placed in her sister's care during proceedings. Winter, whose familial secrets were the subject of many an expose during the course of the dramatic hearings, was ultimately granted independence from her mother as a result of the allegations. She reportedly remained close to her father throughout the ordeal but has since made headlines for her decision to undergo breast reduction surgery and her choices of risque red carpet costumery.

Sofia Vergara's ex tried to hijack her embryos

Actress Sofia Vergara became an overnight sensation thanks to her work in Modern Family. Not only did she land high-profile commercial endorsement contracts for companies like Pepsi and CoverGirl and get to design her own furniture line as a result of her newfound notoriety, but she became a red carpet regular thanks to her bevy of award show nominations as well. But it's not all been lipstick and soft drinks for the Colombian native.

While her current marriage to fellow TV star Joe Manganiello has remained relatively scandal-free, her former relationship with ex Nick Loeb has been a bit of a thorn in her side ... and other parts of her body for that matter. Loeb, to whom she was engaged until the two ended their relationship in 2014, reportedly sued Vergara to prevent her from destroying the embryos the two had created during the course of their relationship, as she no longer wanted to bear children with her former flame. Loeb had wanted to create children of the frozen embryos and even went so far as to pen an op-ed in The New York Times supporting his purported right to do so. However, Vergara's camp asserted she had no intentions of destroying the embryos, but to keep them frozen in perpetuity, and countersued to ensure he'd be unable to produce the resulting children without her permission in turn. The situation was sticky, icky, and exceedingly personal for the actress to watch play out on the public forum as it did.

The Hiller twins hated being Lily

Although Aubrey Anderson-Emmons has portrayed the pint-sized sassmonster Lily Pritchett-Tucker since Modern Family's third season, Baby Lily was originally protrayed by twins Ella and Jaden Hiller. But the Hiller twins' parents took them out of the spotlight almost as quickly as they were thrust into it because, they told Woman's Day (via Now to Love), the two hated the gig.

Their mother Michelle explained, "The girls were in 36 episodes throughout Seasons 1 and 2 – they didn't have an agent, so they got $200 per girl per day. All the money they earned went into their college funds ... Halfway through Season 2 their personalities had started to develop, and it was really clear to us that they weren't enjoying their time on set. So we told the producers the girls wouldn't be coming back. They tried to get us to change our mind and they offered us better and better terms." Those better terms, they revealed, included a massive $34,000 an episode raise, but the Hiller parents would not be deterred from putting their little ones into retirement early.

Ty Burrell was very poor before making it big

Before Modern Family, Ty Burrell might've enjoyed a few roles of note—in particular, his decidedly unfunny turn as a cocky opportunist thrust in the zombie apocalypse in the Dawn of the Dead remake and his small role in The Incredible Hulk — but when he first made way to Hollywood, he was in pretty poor shape. As in, literally poor.

He later admitted (via CBS News) to being homeless during his earliest days trying to make in showbiz, saying, "I had just gotten out of college. It was in Pennsylvania, I had just graduated from grad school. ... I was getting these jobs for $200 a week — so, because I couldn't afford rent, I decided to live in my van. I was rousted a lot (by police). I moved almost every night. I had a whole routine where I would go shower at the gym. ... And then I would go cruise the buffet table for breakfast at, like, a hotel." With two Primetime Emmys under his belt, now there's no doubt his buffet line cruising days are done.

Rico Rodriguez's father died much too young

As one of the most likably self-aware characters on the show, it's hard to image Rico Rodriguez enduring personal pain off-screen, but at the age of just 18, the actor who plays the kind-hearted Manny Delgado had to bury his father, who died at 52.

Rodriguez revealed in an emotional Instagram post featuring a photo of himself with his late dad, "This has been the toughest week of my life. My Dad was the most kind hearted, loving, hard working, determined, and funny man I have ever known. He was like a superhero, he had the ability to get the best out of you day in and day out. I'm gonna miss your hugs. I'm gonna miss your advice. I'm gonna miss your smile, and I'm gonna miss your laugh. I know you're looking down at us right now giving us the green light to move forward. I miss you Daddy. I'll love you forever." Tough break, kid.

Sarah Hyland was brutally assaulted

In 2014, actress Sarah Hyland, who portrays the oft-ditzy eldest child Haley Dunphy in the series, had to file for a restraining order against her real-life ex-boyfriend Matthew Prokop after allegedly suffering verbal and physical abuse that made her fearful for her life—and the life of her dog, whom he threatened. Hyland reportedly sought help from her on-screen mother, actress Julie Bowen, although Bowen would later downplay her role in ending the toxic relationship by telling The Huffington Post, "I didn't do anything special at all. Nothing that you wouldn't do for anybody who's going through a breakup ... it wasn't anything you wouldn't do if somebody called you up and said, 'Hey man, I'm going through a tough time.' You'd jump in."

Hyland was ultimately granted a permanent restraining order against her ex-boyfriend and would later wax poetic about how she refused to submit to the challenge of adversity her abuser presented. Unfortunately, it wasn't the only time Hyland would be left shaken up by an assault; in 2014, she was reportedly indecently grabbed by a man who said he wanted to take a picture with her during production of the show in Sydney, Australia—an incident which led to her attacker's arrest and the left the star visibly shaken, according to reports.

Julie Bowen has had a dangerous heart condition her whole life

In addition to the familial and relationship issues that have plagued some members of the Modern Family cast, they've also had to grapple with some legitimate health scares that can and may affect them for the rest of their lives. Bowen, for example, has worn a hidden pacemaker for decades as a result of a lifelong heart condition.

She revealed to More magazine that she was diagnosed with hypervagotonia in her 20s, a condition that causes her heart to beat a bit too slowly, so her doctors installed a pacemaker to keep her ticker functioning properly. The actress admitted to having "a big crying fit" over being fitted with a device that's "for old people," but she's since come to terms with her reality, which includes going back under the knife every seven years to have the device replaced.

Sarah Hyland had to have a kidney transplant

Bowen wasn't the only one whose insides don't look quite as sunny as her exterior. Sarah Hyland has grappled with a life-threatening kidney condition called kidney dysplasia for most of her youth and experienced severe pain on the set during the early seasons. She told Good Morning America, "I would be in a lot of pain a lot of the time. If I didn't get, like, 12 hours of sleep, It felt, like – It felt, like, none at all ... You know, if you're sick, you still go to work.  And in between takes, you sit down, or you lay your head down or something."

To avoid being stuck on dialysis for the rest of her life, Hyland sought out a donor for a kidney transplant in 2012, and the donor of her life-saving organ was none other than her own father. She told Seventeen, "You know that family is going to be there for you no matter what. My dad gave me a freakin' kidney!" Although Hyland has since recovered from that operation, she announced she was unable to attend the 2017 Screen Actors Guild Awards due to "health reasons" (via Us Weekly). Hyland, who became a youth ambassador for the George Lopez Foundation to raise awareness for kidney donation, has since revealed that public comments about her thin frame are especially difficult for the actress to remain silent about, given the gravity of her health scare and how it continues to impact her body.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson had a cancer scare

Jesse Tyler Ferguson, whose on-screen alter ego Mitchell Pritchett has arrived as a voice of both reason and snark throughout the many quirks that surround him, overcame a skin cancer scare in 2015 that required facial surgery.

He told ABC News, "I had to have a piece of skin taken out of my cheek. It was nothing serious. There was no life-threatening thing that happened, but it was a little scary. I've never had a brush with cancer before ... Having to do something on my face was very scary. My face is my livelihood in this business. It was overwhelming." Ferguson shared a post-surgical image of his treatment and teased that the makeup team for Modern Family would have their hands full with his visible incision, so clearly his spirit never wavered. He later confirmed that he was skin cancer-free as a result of the treatment.

Ed O'Neill may have exhibited some homophobic behavior before

There's no doubt that part of Jay Pritchett's "schtick" as a character is to do a bit of hokey head-scratching here and there about the fact that his eldest son is gay, but his at-times cringe-worthy comments are usually buttressed by the appropriate levels of empathy, good humor, and affection to wash away the sting of any of his words. However, in real life, O'Neill might have tried the same brand of humor and gotten creamed for it by a co-star. Before Modern Family, O'Neill was also celebrated for his TV work in Married ... With Children, and in an interview with TV Legends, O'Neill admitted his cavalier attitude towards one co-star's homosexuality got him disinvited from her wedding.

He explained, "The only one I don't get along with—and I don't think I'm the only one—is Amanda [Bearse]. I'm not sure what happened there because it was wonderful for three years. She was great. I don't know whose fault it was. We just sort of grew apart in terms of, I think, maybe I reminded her of someone she didn't like ... When she started out, she was gay. She's been gay a long time. She was more or less the female in the couple. She was very, very feminine and cute, and then as the show progressed, that change took place where she then was the more masculine of the two ... as she became more masculine she became more snarky." 

He continued, "I remember one instance where she was getting married to the more female—a lovely girl, by the way. The invitations went out and I didn't get one ... So, I went to her, 'why?' And she said, 'This was a very tough call, but I just feel that you would find it amusing that me and Becky would come in in tuxedos in a church and walk down the aisle, and you and David [Faustino] would be snickering and find it funny. And I said, 'Amanda, what is funny about two women in tuxedos walking down the church aisle?' I started laughing, and she said, 'See!?' And I said, 'You know why? Because it is f***ing funny, and I'm not going to be the only one who thinks so!' And that was it." 

That's certainly not the level of wokeness one might expect from a "modern family" man, then, is it?

The cast had to unite to win in more ways than one

It's a good problem for any ensemble cast to have, but the cast of Modern Family has had to be savvy when it comes to Emmy contention submissions because, with three households (and counting) in play, there are a lot of stars that could be considered leads. According to Reuters, the stars of the show had to be shrewd about how to divvy up their potential positions on the awards season ballots in 2010—whether the submit lead actor bids just for the adults or for all essential stars to vie for supporting cast members nominations, or to allow some of its principal castmates to contend for lead actor nominations, while others were relegated to the supporting actor spots. Ultimately, they opted for equality, with even if the top patriarch of the on-screen family, Ed O'Neill, presenting himself as a supporting star, and many have been consistent recipients of those nods as a reward for their hand-in-hand approach.

It wouldn't be the last time the cast of the show would have to band together for the sake of staving off potential in-fighting. Per The Hollywood Reporter, the show's adult stars also stood united in an intense salary struggle with the series' production company, 20th Century Fox—well, all except for O'Neill who'd long exceeded his co-stars in per-episode income. Negotiations became so intense that a lawsuit was even filed to void their existing contracts and table reads were cancelled amidst the stand-off, leaving the future of the show in doubt. However, the matter was ultimately resolved later that year, and in 2017, a new deal was inked that included all of the leading adult stars, including O'Neill, and assured that the series will make it to at least 10 seasons.