Modern Family's Showrunners Originally Wanted Jesse Tyler Ferguson To Play Cam

Given how synonymous most of the "Modern Family" cast is with their characters today, it's very difficult to imagine them playing anyone else on the hit ABC sitcom. But then, casting is kind of a funny process. Casting directors and showrunners alike know this, and the good ones have to be as willing to experiment as they are to admit when their initial instincts might have been wrong. The world of film and television is littered with enough examples of disastrous casting to warrant it.

So it should ultimately be of no surprise that, in a different universe, with a different array of choices, "Modern Family" might have looked quite different. Indeed, production was less than pleased that Ed O'Neill had been cast in the role of Jay Pritchett, preferring to picture someone like Craig T. Nelson at the head of the Pritchett-Tucker-Dunphy clan.

Meanwhile, ABC had wanted Matt LeBlanc in the role of Phil Dunphy, initially passing on Ty Burrell. Lisa Kudrow had been considered for Phil's better half, Claire before they went with Julie Bowen. And though we all know Jesse Tyler Ferguson for his performance as the tightly wound Mitchell Pritchett, he almost ended up playing a very different, however complementary, role.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson's instincts told him he would be a good Mitchell

"I was immediately drawn to Mitchell," said Jesse Tyler Ferguson in a 2011 interview with Out magazine, "but they really only wanted to see me for Cameron." Cameron Tucker, Mitchell's husband — ultimately played by Eric Stonestreet — does seem an odd fit for Ferguson. Perhaps it is because we are so used to seeing him as the meticulous, somewhat uptight environmental lawyer Mitchell, more in need of being balanced out by his partner, the outlandish and fun-loving music teacher Cameron.

But it didn't take showrunners long to realize that Ferguson's own instincts were correct. "So I went in and read for Cameron," Ferguson continued, "and halfway through they stopped me and said, 'You'd be a really good Mitchell, actually.'" Ferguson also recounted how most of the rest of the cast really saw Stonestreet as a perfect fit to play Cam.

Rightly so. Stonestreet's portrayal, veering between eccentricity and sensitivity, flamboyance and loyalty, is simply too synonymous with Cam. Even Cam's clown alter-ego Fizbo -– infamously disliked by Mitchell –- was based on Stonestreet's own creation, right down to the name itself. Can you imagine Ferguson as Fizbo? Yeah, we can't either.