Anyone who remembers “Deck the Halls” during the holiday season, will remember Phil’s father, Frank (as portrayed by Fred Willard). Well, get ready for more Frank because Fred Willard is returning to his Modern Family to reprise the role in an upcoming episode, as not seen on web-camera. One including an RV and…a four-legged friend? SPOILERS AHEAD:
You’re reprising your role of Phil’s father, Frank, on Modern Family. Frank shows up in an RV with a little four-legged friend?
Yes, yes, it’s his dog that his wife is allergic to, so he’s driven across country to give it to his son. So there’s some touching moments in that as well.
You worked with the creators of Modern Family and Ty Burrell on Fox’s Back to You. That’s what made them think of you? It’s such great casting.
I never think I’m old enough to play someone’s dad, even though I have a daughter of my own and a grandson. But yeah, Steve Levitan and Chris Lloyd did Back to You and thought of me. And I guess Ty Burrell kept saying, “Gee, we should get Fred Willard on.”
The first time we saw Frank, it was just on a web camera. What will we learn about him now that’s actually visiting in-person?
He’s just kind of a silly character who loves corny jokes, but also has a serious side, a sentimental side.
Do you have scenes with Ed O’Neill this time?
I do. I did Married… With Children years ago with him, and he’s just the most marvelous guy you’d ever want to be with, just a regular blue-collar guy…. There’s a musical scene that’s done in a real club that’s just really wonderful, where Cam bulls his way into playing the drums [for Dylan's band]. We’re part of the group watching and amazed at the, we’ll call it the drum solo. [Laughs] It’s a hysterical scene.
Any plans to return for future episodes?
The problem is, my character lives in Florida. When I left, I said, “I see the whole family going to Disney World in Florida.” “Hey! That’s a great idea!” As with most great ideas, I haven’t heard much more about that. But they did request a photo of me to put in the hallway [of Phil and Claire's home]. So I haven’t been eliminated from the inner circle. They said, “You’re one of the family now, so we need a photograph.” I don’t know if you get paid for that, but there’s my picture.