Saturday, December 22, 2012

Ed O'Neill, July 1995

Very often, as I'm digitizing my past, I come across pieces that I completely forgot about. This interview with Ed O'Neill, who right now is so great on "Modern Family," is one of them. I interviewed him at a Fox Network party one evening around the pool of the Ritz-Carlton in Pasadena. He were there to meet with the press, and now that my memory has been  bumped, I recall talking with him and Michael Moore that night. This is ironic for me, because I just watched an immensely entertaining interview with O'Neill on "Kevin Pollak's Chat Show."

By Donald Porter
Standard-Examiner staff

PASADENA, Calif. -- A couple of years back, Ed O'Neill was cut out of a movie because a test audience laughed when he was on screen. It was a drama, you see -- a war film -- and he was playing a character who wasn't supposed to be laughed at.

Actors can be typecast, and O'Neill, after playing Al Bundy for eight years on "Married ... with Children," knows all about it. He's so identifiable as Al Bundy that, in the case of the aforementioned movie, "Flight of the Intruder," it meant his work was left on the cutting room floor.

O'Neill, however, is sanguine about his being Al Bundy.

"I would have been worried about it before I made so damn much money," the actor said at a Fox Network party during the Summer Press Tour. He's committed to another year on the TV series, he says, and the network has an option for one more after that. And when "Married ... with Children" does end, he'll work if he can find something to interest him. Otherwise, he'll do what he did during the show's most recent hiatus.

"I didn't work this summer because I didn't get the right kind of script -- something I liked," the bearded actor said, then gestured to Michael Moore, host of "TV Nation," who was standing next to him. "I was telling Michael I'd like to do something on his show. I'm serious, I'd love to work on it."

O'Neill said he's never been too bothered by "Married ... with Children"'s reputation as low-brow entertainment, the kind new Fox chief John Matoian has said he'd like to leave in the past.

"The only thing that bothered me about it is that I wondered if that negative criticism might kill the show shortly after it began," O'Neill said, in between shaking hands with fans and well-wishers who strolled by. "You just can't be too thin-skinned in this business."

Having had such enormous success on prime-time television, O'Neill doesn't have any interest in doing another series after "Married ... with Children" runs its course. But he's not
about to retire, either.

"Something I still think about doing is directing a play," he said, warming to the post-series employment topic. "I think I'd really enjoy that. Or, I'd like to act in independent features."

The actor said he's well aware of Utah's Sundance Film Festival, but has never been offered a part in a low-budget, independent film.

"That may be because I've been making studio pictures," he theorized. "I think 'Dutch,' the John Hughes movie, was my one shot at a successful feature career. Nobody went to see it. Then I did 'Blue Chips' -- that Nick Nolte movie -- and I thought that would do better. And I did 'Little Giants,' but they spent too much money (making) it, so it wasn't profitable and that's that."