Sarah Hyland: Modern Woman
After Sarah Hyland filmed three movies over her summer break from Modern Family, we begin to see how she built such an impressive resumé at twenty-two. Working since the age of five with such diverse names as Howard Stern and Brooke Shields, Hyland has the impressive credentials of many a former child actor in rehab. But this doe-eyed dynamo actually credits her steady work with keeping her grounded. “I’m really lucky to have made a transition from a child actor to an adult actor. When I booked Modern Family at eighteen, I was on the brink of adulthood, but I’ve grown into myself as a woman.”
When she says, “I’ve been more focused on my work more than anything else, and maintaining a healthy relationship and having good friends,” she misses a grand opportunity to shamelessly name drop her celebrity friends. Among them, her boyfriend, actor Matt Prokop, as well as Brent A. Tarnol, the writer of the upcoming movie See You In Valhalla, which Sarah will be both starring in and producing.
“Brent came to me and [Matt and I] were like, fuck yeah! I’m so down for it. Since I was a little girl I’ve always wanted to have my own production company and so to get started at such a young age, doing something like this? It’s made me grow a pair of balls! It’s about a 22-year-old girl who finds out on the news that her brother has died a very bizarre death, going home and having to deal with her family that she hasn’t seen in four or five years. It’s a dark comedy, very family driven. It’s very close to my heart.”
Castings for the film were done partly over the phone while Hyland filmed another of her summer projects, an adaptation of the hugely popular young adult books, Vampire Academy:Blood Sisters. I asked her if her first time overseas and tackling a role with such a passionate fan base was intimidating.
“I thought [it might be scary] at first but then when the casting was announced, the fans from the books made all this beautiful fan art for me and the other cast members. Whether they’ll turn on me after the movie comes out is anyone’s guess, but as of right now, they’ve been really great.”
Her third project this summer was Bonnie and Clyde: Dead and Alive, a two night event airing on Lifetime, The History Channel, and A&E. Sarah, in a short black wig and a southern accent, joins Emile Hirsch and Holliday Grainger to bring us a gritty view of the 1930s bullet-ridden romp.
“I got to run around with guns! We just ran around through the woods, got dirty, and cried, and bled. I haven’t done a period piece in a very long time, I thoroughly enjoyed it.” The enthusiasm mounts in her voice when she says, “I can’t wait for people to see the movie—I can’t wait to see the movie!”
If you’re starting to feel that Sarah really loves talking about her work, you’re right. Ask about how she unwinds while watching TV and you expect to hear some relief at getting the chance to take it easy for once. But, she delights in explaining why watching comedies is actually an educational experience, furthering her commitment to her craft.
“As an actress, even when you’re watching a TV show you’re still learning. When you watch a movie, you’re learning. When you see a play or musical, you’re learning and growing and I think the biggest learning experience as an actress is just by observation. I’m a huge sitcom junkie!”
What’s next for the girl who can’t seem to get enough? Another comedy? Another drama? “I enjoy the challenge of doing both. If I fall in love with a character, you’ve got me. On my hiatus I felt like I was on vacation the entire time.”
Trained in many forms of dance, she teases us with the promise that if she found the right project, she’d “jump at the chance to do a musical.” But in the meantime, it’s back to work, of course—(Modern) Family comes first.
“I’m so excited for season five! We just finished our 100th episode. The writing is just as good if not better this year! It’s always exciting going back—it’s my home away from home.”