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This year, Thanksgiving at the Dunphys will include turkey with all the fixings and an existential question to round out the holiday. That’s what happens when Broadway’s The Book of Mormon star Josh Gad guest stars on Wednesday’s Modern Family and gives Phil (Ty Burrell) a wake up call.
“My character, Kenneth, used to be a neighbor of the Dunphys,” Gad tells The Hollywood Reporter. “While Phil really admired him as a kid, unfortunately Phil’s wife was not so fond of him. I think everybody anticipated that he wouldn’t make much of himself in life. He wound up doing just the opposite.”
Gad’s character reveals the secret to his success is asking “WWPD” or “What would Phil Do?” As you can imagine, that makes Phil reexamine his own life.
“It leads Phil to this existential question of, ‘Why didn’t I ever ask myself what I would do?’ ” Gad explains.
The Tony award nominee spoke to THR about the guest-starring role on Modern Family, the possibility of a movie adaptation of The Book of Mormon, and the TV projects he’s currently working on for NBC.
The Hollywood Reporter: I can imagine that your character’s visit sets off a whole chain of events for the Dunphy Thanksgiving.
Josh Gad: Exactly. We all go through that existential crisis where a neighbor comes knocking on our doors saying, “I used you as the impetus to make a billion dollars.”
THR: What was the best part of shooting the guest role?
Gad: It was so quick, because of my commitment to The Book of Mormon. I literally flew in Monday morning and flew out late Monday afternoon if you can believe it. I shot my two scenes and was out the door. To me the best part about the whole thing was the reunion element of working with Steve Levitan, Chris Lloyd and Ty Burrell again, who I worked with on Back to You, the old FOX show. So, it was just nice to play with the gang again, it had been so long.
Steve and Chris gave me my big television break on Back to You, which was a Kelsey Grammer, Patricia Heaton, Ty Burrell comedy on FOX. We gave it a good run for a year and then the show was canceled, but it wound up being that thing that launched a thousand ships that was so beneficial to all of us. It was really nice to play with all of those guys again. Then, of course, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and I both got our start in Spelling Bee on Broadway. So, there’s a lot of familiarity around that set.
THR: There’s a lot of talk about the possible The Book of Mormon movie. What can you tell me about that?
Gad: I can tell you that it will most likely happen one day. That’s about all I know. I think Trey [Parker] and Matt [Stone] love challenges. I think they love originality. I think before we see a Book of Mormon movie, they’re probably going to want to wrap their heads around maybe something original and something different. I don’t know that, I’m just guessing, knowing those guys. But, I’m sure that one day there will definitely be a movie. I will probably be way too old to be anything other than like the elderly figure that sends the boys on their way.
Based on nothing other than assumption, I think that Trey and Matt want to allow the show to be the show. They’re obviously planning on opening the tour, and Chicago run, and so that’s going to take up a lot of their time. They just recommitted to South Park for three more years. So, I just don’t know time wise when they would do it.
THR: How far in the future do you see yourself with The Book of Mormon on Broadway?
Gad: You know, here’s what I can say. I’m still having a blast. The producers have been incredibly generous with me and have allowed me to do other work while I’m doing the show. As long as I feel like I can creatively add something to the show, I’m really, really honored to continue doing it. For me, it’s been the greatest creative experience I’ve ever had. It’s a rare treat to be a part of something so monumental, something so special and something so pop culturally significant. Everybody is clamoring to get tickets, but nobody can seem to get in. I’m having a good time.
THR: You also have some pilots in the works. Where are you on those?
Gad: Yeah, I’ve actually got two NBC pilots I’ve been working on. One with Will Ferrell and those guys and one with Jason Winer, who directs Modern Family, and Jon Lovvett who was an Obama speech writer. They’re both in pretty great shape. I’m submitting my drafts pretty soon and we’ll see where they go.
THR: You’ve done quite a bit in your career. What else would you like to tackle?
Gad: Really it’s kind of crazy, I’ve got this mental checklist I guess of…let’s see…I’ve done film, I’ve done television, I’ve done Broadway, I’ve done an animated TV show, animated movies, I think the only thing really left is pornography, which I’m not yet ready to commit to. I’ve got to shed a few pounds. Then I’ll be ready.
THR: Good Vibes gets close sometimes.
Gad: Good Vibesdoes get close sometimes. I do get to hide behind the animation, but yes, it does. Certainly the closest you guys will ever have to come to seeing me in the nude.
Email: Jethro.Nededog@thr.com; Twitter: @TheRealJethro
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