Nolan Gould Interview: Young Star of ABC's 'Modern Family' Also Mensa Member
Image attributed to Nolan Gould
Twelve-year-old actor Nolan Gould is best known for his role as Luke Dunphy on the ABC hit comedy series Modern Family. An active member of Mensa, this intelligent young man began his career at the age of three doing commercials.
The Columbus, Georgia native’s most recent films include Space Buddies and Montana. His television credits are Out of Jimmy’s Head, Eleventh Hour, the movie of the week, Sweet Nothing in My Ear, and the Disney series Good Luck Charlie.
“My favorite episode definitely has to be Hawaii. You can’t really go wrong by going on vacation in Hawaii except that I got eight stitches in my knee while we were there which was a total bummer.”
Gould has completed filming on the feature film Friends with Benefits starring Justin Timberlake, Mila Kunis, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, and Jenna Elfman, to be released in 2011.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Nolan, you were born about 70 miles from me in Columbus, Georgia.
Nolan Gould: Yeah, I remember the south. It was actually a while ago that we started acting there, then we moved out here because my dad was in the military and we got transferred a lot. I was born in New York and then we moved when I was about two years old. We got the call to move out to California and it worked out pretty well because LA is pretty much the acting capital of America (laughs).
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Did you begin your career in commercials?
Nolan Gould: We actually started in theater work because my brother and me were really advanced. My mom was trying to find something to keep us entertained so we heard about this theater and got involved with it. After that we started building up to commercials, then when we moved out here we started doing student films and went on to movies and TV shows.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What was your first big break?
Nolan Gould: I think it was actually Modern Family. I had worked on things before like a movie called Space Buddies, but it was a straight to DVD film. Modern Family was my first big break.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Are you having a good time on the show?
Nolan Gould: Yeah, I’m having a great time. Everybody is really nice. This is going to sound really cliché, but we are like one big happy family and we all work just like a real family does. We all work together to keep the family running and we’re nice to each other. Anywhere from the crew and cast to the writers and producers, we all put in effort to make the show work.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Luke acts a little “dumb” sometimes. Is that difficult to play?
Nolan Gould: Dumb is not really a hard thing to do (laughs). But, I’m a member of Mensa so sometimes dumb is a hard thing to play. I do like to play Luke because he’s pretty different from myself. Luke gets to do all kinds of crazy fun stuff like run into a screen door. I find that fun, running into a screen door.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I did read that you are an active Mensa member. That is remarkable!
Nolan Gould: Yeah, my brother and me have been members of Mensa since we were about four. We had to take a test for school purposes and they found out we could go into Mensa. It’s a really great organization that gives you a lot of resources and you can meet other people. It’s really cool.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Modern Family just received several Emmys and Eric Stonestreet won for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Cameron Tucker. Is he a funny guy on the set?
Nolan Gould: Yeah, Eric’s really funny. All the adults are funny and are crazy fun to work with. I don’t get to work with many of them outside my family, but recently I’ve been doing things with other families. We did the Halloween episode and I got to work with Eric. He’s a great guy. I was dressed up as Dr. Frankenstein, but in real life for Halloween I dressed up as an iPod. I hooked my iPod up to an iPod portable speaker and taped it to the back of my costume so it played music out loud and nobody could see it.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Great costume. You turned 12 on October 28. Was this your last year to go trick or treating?
Nolan Gould: No. I don’t know really what’s the age limit for trick or treating (laughs). I wish there wasn’t an age limit but I’m pretty short for my age. I think you can probably go when you’re 13. Next year if I don’t go I’ll just get to hide in the bushes and scare kids as they walk up to get candy (laughs).
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Are there cast members who enjoy playing practical jokes?
Nolan Gould: Usually the adults don’t, but the kids are pretty crazy when it comes to practical jokes. Rico (Rodriguez) and I hide from our schoolteacher. We’re real troublemakers. Ariel (Winter) tries to pull a prank on me like putting hot sauce in my food or something.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What’s the worst thing you and Rico have done to the other actors?
Nolan Gould: One time we went into the production office of Modern Family and we were hiding. The producers and writers in the production office were helping us. They were all helping us hide in their offices.
Rico was found, but luckily he kept quiet and didn’t rat me out. Eventually I went back to the schoolroom. It was like a wild goose chase because Ariel was looking for us. They couldn’t find Ariel. It was all crazy.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Do you have a favorite episode from either season?
Nolan Gould: My favorite episode definitely has to be Hawaii. You can’t really go wrong by going on vacation in Hawaii except that I got eight stitches in my knee while we were there which was a total bummer. But it was really a fun episode and hopefully this year we’ll go on vacation to … maybe Phil (Ty Burrell) will take us to Italy like he has promised to do.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Is there anything fun coming up later in the season?
Nolan Gould: We’ve got an episode coming up where I get to work with Gloria (Sofia Vergara) and that’s pretty cool. I get to teach her how to ride a bike because Jay can’t ride one. My play date was cancelled so I had nothing better to do so I teach her how to ride a bike. Luke has his ways of teaching people things so it’s pretty crazy.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You just made a film, Friends with Benefits, starring Justin Timberlake. How was that experience?
Nolan Gould: It was really fun. Justin is actually competing with Ty Burrell for the nicest guy in Hollywood, but I’ve worked with Ty for so long that I think he is going to win. Everybody on the set was really nice. I got to work with Mila Kunis, too, and she was nice. It was a great experience. I got to do a lot of stunts in the movie and learned magic. It was really cool.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Nolan, do your friends treat you differently now that you star on a top ranked television show?
Nolan Gould: No, Modern Family doesn’t really affect my life outside of work so I just act like a normal kid. Some of my friends know that I’m on the show, but I just act normal around them.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Do you like to watch yourself on television?
Nolan Gould: Yeah, my whole family watches the show. Every week I like to watch it, but sometimes I’m nervous wondering if the audience will like the show. Then I go on Twitter and read what everybody is saying and then I’m really grateful that we have such great writers and for the success of the show.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What other television shows do you watch?
Nolan Gould: I just really like to watch things on the Discovery Channel or on the History Channel like Myth Busters. That’s one of my favorite shows. It’s hilarious.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Did you celebrate your birthday in a special way?
Nolan Gould: Since it’s so close to Halloween it’s kind of hard to celebrate because all of my friends are doing stuff so we’re taking some of my friends to Disneyland.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Cool. Nolan, what do you like to do when you’re not working?
Nolan Gould: I do many activities outside like camping or hiking because I’m in Scouts. I even do indoor skydiving at Universal and that’s fun. I like to go swimming and snorkeling. If it’s outside then I do it.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What advice would you give to younger actors just starting out in show business?
Nolan Gould: It’s going to be hard because it takes a while and you have to put in so much work to get to a certain level. If you don’t get there at first, keep trying and eventually you will succeed.
Just don’t give up, no matter what … no matter what everyone else tells you. If you really want to do it and you love acting, just follow your dreams and you’ll succeed.
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