This ‘Modern Family’ Star Is Eager to Change His Image

With Modern Family coming to an end, audiences have to find other shows to watch. As for the actors, they have a tall task too: The cast has to find new shows to work one.

One of the series’ youngest stars, looks forward to shaking up his image. This is more than understandable, as actors long to break out of that “cute, precocious kid” phase.

ABC's "Modern Family"
ABC’s “Modern Family” stars Ed O’Neill as Jay, Rico Rodriguez as Manny, Sofia Vergara as Gloria, Nolan Gould as Luke, Julie Bowen as Claire, Ariel Winter as Alex, Ty Burrell as Phil, Sarah Hyland as Haley, Jesse Tyler Ferguson as Mitchell and Eric Stonestreet as Cameron. | Bob D’Amico/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

And it’s not an easy task. For every Jodie Foster or Natalie Wood who successfully makes the transition, there are many more “whatever happened to” or tabloid-ready cautionary tales like Amanda Bynes and Lindsay Lohan. But Nolan Gould, who plays Luke Dunphy on the series, has plotted a road map forward as the show proceeds with its 11th and final season. 

How Nolan Gould plans to move forward

Gould recently spoke to Popculture.com about his movie Yes, which he hopes will make audiences see the now 20-year-old in a different light. 

My role in it is super dark,” Gould told the site. “It’s dark, it’s edgy and a little bit controversial, and it’s super different from Modern Family, which is why I took an interest and really loved the script. And actually having worked with the director [Rob Margolies] before, I just wanted to give people a chance who watch the show to see that I can do different things.”‘

Interestingly, the movie is about the very thing that Gould and other child stars look to avoid. Based on an off-Broadway play, the movie is about a one-time child actor with a troubled past who mentors 17-year-old Jeremiah Rosenhaft, played by Gould. 

The indie film doesn’t have a release date yet, but even if the movie does fly under the radar, Gould has a second project that has been completed called Camp.

“It’s like a Jewish retreat and it’s pretty funny with James Franco, Joey King; and with James Franco, it’s all that humor,” he said. “There’s some edgy things, it’s a little bit raunchy. It’s a really good, feel good, coming of age story.”

Will Nolan Gould be more than a child star? 

It’s too early to tell what kind of success Gould will have once Modern Family wraps, but he’s smart to be forward-thinking. Not every child star has a desperately tragic story, but even the biggest successes have struggled throughout Hollywood history.

Consider Shirley Temple, who was one of the biggest stars of any age in the 1930s. Her tight curls and dimples spawned scores of imitators, but once she became a teenager, her star began to dim. She had some notable roles when she was older, such as The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer and Fort Apache, but her film career didn’t last far beyond those movies.

At least Temple is still well recognized today. Less lucky was actress Virginia Weidler, who started out promisingly, stealing scenes from Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart in the classic The Philadelphia Story, but she retired from show business by the 1950s and died from a heart ailment when she was only 41.

How to recover from being famous as a kid

Not every tale of child stardom is a story of gloom and doom, but former child actors looking “grow up” would do well to be smart about managing their careers, as Gould is attempting to do. Mara Wilson, who became famous after roles in Mrs. Doubtfire and Matilda, in particular, wrote in Cracked about the difficulty of living that life, from which she voluntarily walked away. 

“There’s not much to do besides accept (fame) for what it was and move on. Child stars who are best off as adults usually do one or two projects, then get the hell out of Hollywood, at least for the next few years,” she wrote. “That’s my suggestion for kids who want to act, by the way: Make sure it’s really your choice, get out of it when it stops being fun, and get an education.”

The final season of Modern Family is now underway, airing Wednesdays at 9 p.m. at ABC.