Ty Burrell

Ty Burrell Headshot

Actor • Comedian

Birth Date: August 22, 1967

Age: 56 years old

Birth Place: Grants Pass, Oregon

A versatile talent with a knack for playing egotistical heels, Emmy-winning Ty Burrell was a supporting actor and occasional lead who established himself in the industry with strong performances in the horror feature "Dawn of the Dead" (2002) and on the television series "Modern Family" (ABC, 2009- ). He was exclusively a stage actor in the late 1990s before making inroads to television and features; his turn as a smarmy yuppie in Zack Snyder's remake of "Dawn" made him a go-to for that character type, but he also showed considerable comic chops on the short-lived series "Out of Practice" (CBS, 2005-06) and "Back to You" (Fox, 2007-08). Both programs were produced by the successful team of Steve Levitan and Christopher Lloyd - best known for their success with "Frasier" (NBC, 1993-2004) - who were impressed enough to tap Burrell once again for his most successful TV outing, the critical darling and ratings hit "Modern Family," which showcased him as a scene-stealing comic star on the rise.

Born in Grants Pass, OR on Aug. 22, 1967, he earned a degree in theater from Southern Oregon University in 1993 before heading to New York City, where he found steady work both on and off Broadway. He soon amassed a substantial and impressive list of credits there, ranging from classical works like Shakespeare's "Richard III" opposite Peter Dinklage at the Public Theater to an off-Broadway production of Lanford Wilson's "Burn This" with his future "Incredible Hulk" co-star, Edward Norton. In 1998, he and his brother Duncan co-wrote the play "Babble," which Burrell also performed at the Broad Horizons Theatre.

Burrell's onscreen appearances began with a 2001 guest shot on "The West Wing" (NBC, 1999-2006). His first feature role was a heroic one in Ridley Scott's "Black Hawk Down" (2001) - he played real-life Master Sergeant Timothy A. Wilkinson, who helped rescue the crews of two downed helicopters in Mogadishu, Somalia - but with his next film project, he established a screen persona that would stick with him for years to come. In Zack Snyder's high-octane remake of "Dawn of the Dead" (2002), Burrell was oily perfection as a yuppie whose sense of entitlement and self-preservation went unchecked in the face of a worldwide zombie apocalypse. The film's blockbuster status, as well as the layer of charm that Burrell brought to the character, helped to not only elevate the role out of stereotype, but also ensured that he would play similar parts for years to come.

Burrell logged small roles in his next features - Paul Weitz's underrated coming-of-age story "In Good Company" (2004), David Jacobson's indie drama "Down in the Valley" (2005), which marked his first screen teaming with Edward Norton, and Nicole Holofcener's smart dramedy "Friends with Money" (2006), which cast him as a man who shares not only the same name with Frances McDormand's husband (Simon McBurney), but also his apparent latent homosexuality. The 2006 comedy "The Darwin Awards" gave him a slightly more substantial role, though again as a venal, upscale type; albeit one who suffers a humiliating end via a vending machine. However, few saw that effort, as negative critical response consigned it to a short theatrical run.

That same year, Burrell returned to television with a starring role opposite Henry Winkler and Stockard Channing on "Out of Practice." The sitcom, about a dysfunctional family of medical professionals, was enlivened by Burrell's turn as a self-absorbed, womanizing plastic surgeon, but his performance was not enough to save the show from demise at the hands of the network. It was on this show, however, that Burrell made an impression on the co-creators, Steve Levitan and Christopher Lloyd (not to be confused with the actor), best known for their work as executive producers of "Frasier." Soon after that pink slip, he ventured back into features with a supporting role as real-life photographer and actor Allan Arbus, husband of acclaimed but troubled photographer Diane Arbus (Nicole Kidman) in Steven Shainberg's fictionalized biopic, "Fur" (2006).

A minor role in "National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets" (2007) as a lovelorn White House curator who aids Diane Kruger in her search for the title object, a tome filled with Presidential secrets, predated another shot at a regular TV series. "Back to You" (Fox, 2007-08) seemed like a sure thing on paper - its stars were multiple Emmy winners Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton; its creators were Levitan and Lloyd. But the show, which cast Burrell as a long-suffering TV field reporter with designs on the anchor positions held by Grammer and Heaton, failed to meet critical and audience expectations, and was gone before the end of its first season.

Burrell reunited for a third time with Edward Norton in "The Incredible Hulk" (2008), a faithful big screen adaptation of the iconic Marvel Comics adventure. Burrell's role - Dr. Edward Samson, who replaces Norton's Bruce Banner as love interest to Liv Tyler's Betty Ross - was originally written as yet another "jerk," but became more sympathetic after Norton's rewrite. The character also had a long history in the "Hulk" comics due to his own super powers and adventures, and the film's success spawned rumors that Burrell would play the role as portrayed in the graphic novels in a possible sequel.

In 2009, Burrell finally struck pay dirt with a television series that was built to last. "Modern Family," again produced by the ever loyal Levitan and Lloyd, took a mockumentary approach to the traditional family sitcom, with cameras covering the ups and downs in the relationships of a father (Ed O'Neill) and his gay son (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and tightly wound daughter (Julie Bowen). The show was widely praised by critics, with Burrell receiving the lion's share of the kudos as Bowen's husband Phil, a hapless suburban dad whose attempts to relate to his children and his extended family frequently ended in disaster. For his part, Burrell committed to the hapless Phil, calling his scene-stealing character, "nothing but a big, goofy dog." He was duly rewarded with a Screen Actors Guild award nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, as well as an Emmy nod in 2010. A year later, he beat out three of his co-stars - Eric Stonestreet, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Ed O'Neill - to win the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Emmy, a feat he repeated in 2014.

Between seasons of "Modern Family," Burrell continued working on films, including supporting roles in Doug Liman's political espionage thriller "Fair Game" (2010), about the Bush Administration's deliberate outing of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame as political payback, the Rachel McAdams-led romantic comedy "Morning Glory" (2010), the small town satire "Butter" (2011), and the quirky comedy "Goats" (2012). He provided Mr. Peabody's voice in the CGI comedy "Mr. Peabody and Sherman" (2014), had a cameo in the hit sequel "Muppets Most Wanted" (2014), and appeared in "The Skeleton Twins" (2014), an indie drama starring Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig in atypically serious roles.

Credits

Above Average PresentsStream

Guest
Series
2022

DuncanvilleStream

Voice
Jack
Series
2020

Duncanville: Extras

Actor
Show
2019

Admiral BL: Dein Verein

Actor
Phil Dunphy
Show
2018

The Burger Show

Guest
Show
2018

Live with Kelly and Ryan

Guest
Talk
2017

Rough NightStream

Actor
Pietro
Movie
2017
45%

The Wonderful World of Disney: Disneyland 60

Guest
Show
2016

Finding DoryStream

Voice
Bailey
Movie
2016
94%

Storks

Voice
Henry Gardner
Movie
2016

The Late Show With Stephen ColbertStream

Guest
Talk
2015

Behind The Story: With the Paley Center: Extras

Actor
Show
2015

Behind the Story With the Paley Center

Guest
Show
2015

The Late Late Show With James CordenStream

Guest
Talk
2015

Hot OnesStream

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Reality
2015

Years of Living Dangerously

Actor
Docuseries
2014

Years of Living Dangerously: Extras

Actor
Show
2014

Late Night With Seth MeyersStream

Guest
Talk
2014

Muppets Most Wanted: Extras

Actor
Show
2014

Young Hollywood's Greatest

Actor
Show
2014

Evolution Of...

Actor
Show
2014

Mr. Peabody & Sherman

Voice
Mr. Peabody
Movie
2014

Muppets Most WantedStream

Actor
Jean Pierre Napoleon
Movie
2014
80%

The Skeleton TwinsStream

Actor
Rich
Movie
2014
86%

Anderson Live

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Show
2012

Live! With Kelly and Michael

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Talk
2012

Entertainment Studios.TV

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2012

Comedy Bang! Bang!Stream

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2012

The 2012 Billboard Music Awards

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Show
2012

Finding Your RootsStream

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Reality
2012

Key & PeeleStream

Actor
Series
2012
97%

Goats

Actor
Frank
Movie
2012

Dish Nation

Guest
Talk
2011

Butter

Actor
Bob Pickler
Movie
2011

ConanStream

Guest
Talk
2010

The Talk

Guest
Talk
2010

Access Hollywood Live

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Show
2010

America Celebrates July 4th at Ford's Theatre

Host
Show
2010

Fair Game

Actor
Fred
Movie
2010

Modern FamilyStream

Actor
Phil Dunphy
Series
2009
85%

The Project

Guest
Show
2009

Late Night With Jimmy Fallon

Guest
Talk
2009

Leaves of Grass

Actor
Professor Sorenson
Movie
2009

The Bonnie Hunt Show

Guest
Talk
2008

The Incredible HulkStream

Actor
Leonard
Movie
2008
67%

Back To YouStream

Actor
Gary Crezyzewski
Series
2007
40%

National Treasure: Book of SecretsStream

Actor
Connor Hamilton
Movie
2007
36%

Rachael Ray ShowStream

Guest
Talk
2006

The Darwin Awards

Actor
Emile
Movie
2006

Friends With MoneyStream

Actor
Other Aaron
Movie
2006
72%

Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus

Actor
Allan Arbus
Movie
2006

Out of PracticeStream

Actor
Dr. Oliver Barnes
Series
2005

The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson

Guest
Talk
2005

The Insider

Guest
Show
2004

Dawn of the DeadStream

Actor
Steve
Movie
2004
76%

In Good CompanyStream

Actor
Enrique Colon
Movie
2004
82%

The Ellen DeGeneres Show

Guest
Talk
2003

Jimmy Kimmel Live!Stream

Guest
Talk
2003

Live With Regis and Kelly

Guest
Show
2001

Evolution

Actor
Flemming
Movie
2001

The West WingStream

Guest Star
Tom Starks
Series
1999
81%

Law & Order: Special Victims UnitStream

Guest Star
Alan Messinger
Series
1999
78%

Family GuyStream

Guest Voice
Self
Series
1999

The Daily Show With Jon StewartStream

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Talk
1999

Kickin' It: With Byron Allen

Guest
Show
1998

The View

Guest
Talk
1997

Extra

Guest
News
1994

Inside the Actors Studio

Guest
Talk
1994

Late Show With David Letterman

Guest
Talk
1993

The Tonight Show With Jay Leno

Guest
Talk
1992

Law & OrderStream

Guest Star
Series
1990

Good Morning America

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News
1975

Plaza Sésamo

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Show
1972

Sesame StreetStream

Guest
Series
1969

News aboutTy Burrell