Sarah Hyland, the actress who plays Haley Dunphy on Modern Family (8 p.m. Wednesdays on WFAA/Channel 8), insists that she has virtually nothing in common with her character, a teenage airhead. The most obvious difference is that Hyland isn't a 15-year-old girl anymore. The actress turned 20 last year. So a lot of the drama that exists in Haley's life -- from taking a driving test to breaking up, and making up, with her boyfriend on an almost daily basis -- has become ho-hum stuff for Hyland. Still, she loves re-creating those moments for TV because a teen's life is never ho-hum. "Everything is the end of the world with a teenager," Hyland says. "It's fun to go back in time and be like that. But when the work day is over, I try to drop those old habits as fast as I possibly can!"
1In what ways are you similar to Haley?
Haley and I have exactly one and a half things in common: Neither of us can cook to save our lives, and I always have my phone on me. My phone is the half thing -- but only half -- because I'm not always texting. I always forget to text people back, even though I have my phone on me. There are a lot of things that might slip Haley's mind during the course of a day, but texting somebody back is not one of them.
2 You didn't mention driving. So you're not challenged behind the wheel the way Haley is, right?
Yes, I do know how to drive. I'm from New York. When I decided I was going to move to L.A., I took driving lessons and got my license. Then I moved out to L.A. two weeks later and was just thrown into the chaos. It was wonky at first, but practice makes perfect. Haven't hit any pedestrians yet.
3 Do you have a favorite funny Haley moment?
Any moment when she's a complete airhead to the max. When she was rubbing the cellphone battery on her head because she believed doing that would recharge it, that was one of my favorite moments.
4 You've been acting almost your whole life. What compelled you to do this?
I saw a commercial for Shake 'N Bake at the age of 4 and I said, 'I can do that so much better than that girl.' That's when I wanted to start acting. And once the bug bit me, I knew I was going to do this for the rest of my life. All because of good old Shake 'N Bake!
5 Is it ever confining to be a TV teen? Are you ever like, 'How about an adult role for a change?'
If I were doing a grown-up role instead, I might be like, 'That girl playing Haley on Modern Family seems to be having a lot of fun. Why can't I have a job like hers?' Besides, Haley's got a lot of growing up still to do, like going to college -- or not getting in. So much to do. I hope I get to keep doing this for a while.
-- David Martindale,
Special to the Star-Telegram