Modern Family’s Slapstick Megastud Dishes On Hollywood, Enlightenment, And Future Endeavors
It’s likely you’re familiar with Reid Ewing from his eleven-year role as Dylan Marshall from the groundbreaking series, Modern Family. While we gawked over him as the goofy, loyal boyfriend we dreamed about, Ewing was widely highlighted in 2015 for coming out of the closet, despite never officially being in, as he discussed body dysmorphic disorder and having various plastic surgeries. After catching a 2013 independent horror film, Crush, on a boring evening, I couldn’t help but wonder who was this actor with a warm soul I was watching – I felt like this person was someone I’d met before. Low and behold, with the help of Wikipedia, I discovered it was Ewing. The first time I’d seen him in something that wasn’t his hit show. Thanks to social media, it was simple to connect with the veteran actor and upon further investigation, I found that he didn’t have as many interviews outside of the Modern Family universe where he was able to showcase this mystery of a man behind his popular character. Fortunately, Ewing was able to chat with Instinct Magazine to take a deeper dive into his life and what he’s been up to since the juggernaut series ended along with his next endeavors. Let’s dive in!
Mickey Keating: First, Happy Holidays! What did you do for Thanksgiving and do you have any upcoming plans for the Holidays?
Reid Ewing: I went to Boise, Idaho and hung out with my parents, sister, and nephews. I helped make Thanksgiving dinner and had to deal with my rambunctious nephews. They are all over the place! I made mushrooms, I think they are called maitake ear mushrooms. I like food that looks crazy. Then I [made] mashed potatoes and baked beans. [I find cleaning] and cooking therapeutic. Sometimes when I get lazy and don’t want to cook, my boyfriend does. [But, cooking] is healthy and it’s positive to make a meal. For Christmas, I kind of want to do a Monk [expedition] and go to an isolated place and see how it affects my brain and my life. Or, I’ll stay in Salt Lake City, Utah [where I currently am] and spend it with family. [I’ve been in Salt Lake at my parent’s home] because I’m selling my condo in Los Angeles.
MK: You have Monk aspirations? What does that mean?
RE: I’m trying to be the person I want to be. I want to do anything I can to feel good about myself and meet my own expectations. I don’t want to keep making the same mistakes and live a shallow, petty life.
MK: What mistakes do you keep on making?
RE: I smoke a lot of weed. [Weed is] a crutch for me. I know it’s not a drug to some people, but I feel like it would be better if I had more resilience. [Weed] does some good things for me, but I want to be more disciplined and have better self-control. I would smoke at work because I’d get antsy and anxious. I’d smoke and that would chill out. Weed would make me enjoy the experience when I felt apathetic and uninspired. Some other people use their talent and enjoyment of the art or attention to relax on camera. I couldn’t [use those tactics at that time in my life].
MK: Are you planning on leaving Hollywood?
RE: I’m not sure. Right now, because of the pandemic, you can kind of work and film auditions from anywhere. I’m still auditioning for roles. I’m a little picky though. I want to play something fruity and fabulous, like a character on a Disney show. I want to be a marketable [actor], so I try to tone down my personality. But, I feel like on Instagram [the public] doesn’t want to see your real personality [anyway]. They want to see you making yourself look good. People want to see selfies, which I like. I just don’t do them that much. Some people are able to successfully [be themselves on social media], but sometimes when I open up about something that I like, people won’t like that kind of content a lot of the time.
MK: Do you have a particular role you’d ideally like to play?
RE: Acting is fun. If I don’t see myself as the character, I won’t go for it. I want to add my take on it. I love fantasy, and not like The Lord of the Rings. [Off my beat of asking him if he means The Care Bears]. I mean, if they asked me to voice a Care Bear, I wouldn’t say no! I like the sentiment behind [the Bears], that we all have to take care of each other. I like when people are able to create a different mood and style with their art. People are able to escape from reality. I like to play characters that are unreal because the universe of the script is unreal.
MK: Do you think Hollywood made you a little jaded?
RE: I’m the Queen of Jaded. There’s a lot of reasons why. It’s hard to get a job in Hollywood. You have to put in a lot of work for each audition and it starts feeling like a waste of time if you don’t hear back from them. It’s the classic story. People say Hollywood and the lifestyle of an artist is hard. It is. There’s no stability. Even if I do get a job, once the job is over, I’m back to being in an unstable place.
MK: Are you close with any of your Modern Family cast members?
RE: No. I was a bit of an outsider there. It was probably intentionally on my end. I’ve been an outsider in my life before, but it takes two to tango. I had a lot of fun acting in Modern Family. I would’ve liked to have been friends [with the main cast], but that’s not how friendships work. They were together [constantly] forever and had the chance to bond. They were seeing each other on a regular basis. If I was a main character from day one, I think I would’ve been closer with them. But most of them were really friendly. I was really appreciative of Ed O’Neil and Julie Bowen. They were empathetic to my position and were always supportive and nice.
MK: Why aren’t you verified on Instagram and Twitter? You’re a huge, credited actor.
RE: I think it’s an Illuminati conspiracy! [Laughs] I had verified accounts. One of my friends was playing social media manager for me and posting content on my behalf. Eventually, I didn’t like what she was posting so I deleted my accounts and started it over. [I can’t clarify this but, maybe] Instagram and Twitter have my name on some registry that I’m verified on another account. Or, I’m blacklisted! [Laughs]
MK: Right up my alley! I’m definitely blacklisted out here by a handful of people because I definitely pissed too many people off and I won’t stop talking. You’re in Hollywood, and openly gay, we know gay-Hollywood is its own subculture. I’ve been in that mold, have attended the parties, experienced how political it is. If you’re in the industry, you know who is Elite and who isn’t. It’s scary- if you play their games, you win their prizes. Are you in with the Who’s Who of gay-Hollywood?
RE: What you’re saying is really interesting. I’m not on the in-and-in with gay-Hollywood. I’m not even that close with Jesse Tyler Ferguson. I’m not really connected to celebrities, I kind of just do my own thing. I have been to a Bryan Singer party. I don’t think I made ‘the cut’. I was kind of the weirdo in a corner dressed in all black.
MK: It’s almost like the higher up you go, the eviler people get. The Hollywood Elite put Harvey Weinstein on a pedestal despite knowing what he was doing for decades.
RE: But, I think there’s a lot of good people at the top, too. Annette Bening saw my work and had me come in to do a table read with her. I like her.
MK: So, you’re not as jaded as you think you are!
RE: No, I’m definitely as jaded as I think I am. I’m a cynical person.
MK: I’m aligned and have been vocal with actors like Viggo Mortensen who believe actors should act without repercussions. Gay roles shouldn’t go to only gay actors, especially when the film industry is still a business and you need a star to get butts in seats and wallets filled. What do you think on the long debate of having only gay actors portraying gay characters?
RE: I don’t have a strong opinion on straight actors playing gay. I think some gay actors probably wanted to poke the peach with Timothée Chalamet in Call Me By Your Name.
MK: What was it like working on the Modern Family set? Your cast dominated with Emmy Awards, gained a huge fandom, and are treated as Hollywood royalty. You weren’t a main cast member, although you were in every season, but you had to of spent a lot of time with them being the most recurring cast member outside of the ones we all know and love. You were never overlooked or overshined. You kept up with them each episode.
RE: The actual process was extremely fun. Sometimes it was difficult, like when I had to cry. But, other times it was totally fun. I love the character they created for me. The babies that I had in the show I loved. It was calming to be with them. I had no idea that I was going to be on the show [the whole time]. If I knew I was going to be a lead character in the last two seasons, I would’ve prepared more for it. I was just doing appearances here and there, but then I was in a [leading role]. I would’ve prepared for my exposure if I knew I was going to be [in every other episode]. I was writing articles instead about plastic surgery. At that point, [in between seasons], I didn’t think I was going to continue acting. I thought if I wrote about [body dysmorphic disorder] I could possibly help some people. [I think I did], some people said that it helped them. I’m not against plastic surgery. My particular case was very kind of invasive. It was an act of violence against myself. I wish I was a little bit more secure with myself that I didn’t have to do that and go through with it. I was experimenting with doctors. They would put something in, the first time it was wrong, and it led to something else and something else. It sounds like how a psychopath would act, but everyone has bad cycles [in their lives]. It was a hard time for me, I was very insecure about myself in general. I’m [still] definitely insecure. Like, I’m living for those moments of hope that I feel like there’s something that really sparks my soul that’s new and there’s a possibility that something new and wonderful would happen. I have a dream where I was going to a school, or set, and everything was new and such a fresh, exciting feeling. I felt like I did when I was in middle school, the first day. That kind of feeling.
MK: Would you be an Avenger in the Marvel movies?
RE: I don’t think now I have what it takes. Maybe if I beefed up and had an extreme makeover, then maybe.
MK: Do you have any celebrity crushes?
RE: I mean [on the subject of The Avengers], Tom Holland is pretty hot. Choi Woo-shik [from the Academy Award winning horror film, Parasite] is pretty hot. But, I’m not really into actors that much.
MK: I know you like the Final Destination movies! I’m a huge horror buff. What’s your favorite kill?
RE: I love Battle Royale and that genre. The Final Destination films are kind of like that for me – kind of like, and ‘then there were none’. It’s not about the gore, but what characters are going to make it through and who will lose the ‘game’ of the movie. The best kill for me, I can even reenact it, is this cute goth girl (Alexz Johnson) in Final Destination 3. She falls back and her hand gets nailed to her face by a nail gun. That to me wasn’t so much [horror], but more of a mouse trap. It’s over the top. It has more humor and irony, so it’s not as serious as someone getting murdered with a chainsaw.
MK: It’s clear you’re a huge fan of Anime and I know absolutely nothing about that subculture. What makes it so attractive to you?
RE: It’s all about the fantasy. [Anime] creates a fantasy world that is bright and amazing, so much better than normal, mundane reality. I get more into drawings [and animation] because they aren’t limited. There’s no CGI or how expensive a shot is going to be. They go places films can’t go. I want to runaway to Japan, basically. I’ve only been in the United States for most of my life. I’m sure I’ll get a totally different perspective in life if I’m traveling.
MK: I know you have a boyfriend from South Korea who you mentioned in a previous video interview amid the pandemic that you haven’t seen in awhile. I’m assuming you’re still together, but are you in love with him?
RE: We met on Tindr, and then randomly ran in to each other at a club. But yeah, online dating is so toxic. I would always be disappointed. There was always a disconnection. I would like someone’s personality, but then I wouldn’t be into them physically. I’d get my hopes up and eventually [online dating would] destroy me. It felt bad to be online dating when I knew it would be an unpleasant experience for me. The guy I’m with I liked him when I first started dating him. I didn’t think we’d be together for a long time, but then things changed. We love each other. Love is a sensitive term to me. I don’t use it passively. I’ve said it and I’ve felt it before, but I don’t like how people casually use the term. I want to save ‘love’ for when I’m feeling some enlightenment. I want to truly feel it. Love, in my mind, is tender. If I found a baby bird, I would feel sympathy and empathy for it. I get feelings of love for feeling sorry for helpless things. That touches my heart. I get warm feelings from puppies, animals, things that are so cute. I love animals so much, it’s why I’m vegan. I think they are all really cute, sweet, and humanlike.
MK: Are you long distance dating with him?
RE: He lives with me at my parent’s place right now. We’ll get our own house once I’m at a job where I’m stable. I’m open to non-acting jobs, too. I want to teach comedy acting classes. I’m looking around to see if there’s an interest to have me as a teacher for acting classes. I want to help uplift young, aspiring actors to tell them my experience. [It’s why I still want to be industry-involved] and [be an acting teacher]. [As a teacher] you can create a syllabus to coach. It’s why I think if I have more college credentials [I can] have a fun job like that.
MK: After browsing your Instagram, I see a ton of the RuPaul’s Drag Race girls comment on every one of your photos. Are you a fan or are these people chasing after you?
RE: I’m a super fan. Drag Race to me is like that fantasy world I was talking about. They are so over the top! They create these characters that don’t even need a narrative story. I love it. I connected with the ones I really like. The drag culture is be yourself to a fault. They aren’t sensitive, they say what they want and you just have to deal with it. My favorite drag queens are Max, because he’s such a Victorian lady. [I met a handful of them who I really like and who are my version of Miss Congeniality.] I mentioned my love for Battle Royale and [that is Drag Race to me.] It’s like, why do they have to get rid of my favorite one! I feel like the show does that, they take away fan favorites in a savage ending. It’s theatrical. Like ‘why did they do that!’
MK: Okay, last thing… I was browsing your Twitter and you said you can tell if someone has a serial killer instinct. What does that mean? Like, is it a Kill Theory of – Battle Royale – like one will have to do what they have to do? Or are some people just insane?
RE: I think people have an ability to rationalize anything. I think some people don’t realize that they are killers at heart. Someone who works in a slaughterhouse, they are killing all they want. Someone who works in a pound has to euthanize a room full of dogs. I wonder about people who have jobs where they have to do something violent and terrible. That’s got to say something about the person who is doing that job. If you’re talking about it on a smaller scale, the world is so competitive. People, I think, largely want to see each other fail. People are hateful towards one another. That’s how it is. It’s human culture and people want to put blame on others [who don’t deserve it]. Cops killing people when they get mad can somehow justify it to themselves. People who went around [in the ‘60s] doing lobotomies went town to town digging into people’s brains with an ice pick for the sake of science. But, they were serial killers. It’s a sick instinct I think some people have.
Ewing pauses before he talks, even though he knows his mind won’t change what he’s about to say. He’s a White Knight and that doesn’t exist in Hollywood. It’s almost a fantasy for someone so incredibly upfront to exist in the industry and perhaps that’s why his next ideal role is destined for something out of this world. Ewing relates back to a favorite memory as walking into middle school – the irony is he gives you that special nostalgia of your middle school crush. He doesn’t sit there and string off pageant answers. He’s the real deal.
Writer’s Note A: This is the opinion of one Instinct Magazine contributor and does not reflect the views of Instinct Magazine itself or fellow contributors.
Writer’s Note B: Quotes have been edited for clarity.