Jesse Tyler Ferguson says he never imagined he would segue from “Modern Family” to hosting the revival of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”
“I had been approached about doing other reality-type TV shows but nothing felt really right,” says Ferguson, 44, who’s garnered five Emmy nominations as Mitchell Pritchett on “Modern Family,” ending its 11-season run April 8 on ABC. “I’m not a designer or a carpenter but, for some reason, this just felt like the right fit,” he says. “I’m someone who loves human connection, loves working with people and I love humanitarian work.
“The opportunity to meet these families and to mean something and to give them … a better future, home and tomorrow was too good to pass up.”
The original version of “Extreme Home Makeover: Home Edition” aired on ABC from 2003 to 2012 with host Ty Pennington, who worked with designers and contractors to surprise hard-luck families with renovated (and, in some cases, totally new) homes. Ferguson isn’t as immersed in the manual labor aspect as was Pennington, though he does do some welding in Sunday’s series opener, which revolves around the Mosley family in Bakersfield, Calif.
This season will also feature guests including Anthony Anderson (“Black-ish”), LeAnn Rimes, Pennington and Laila Ali.
“Obviously they weren’t going to have me making bureaus and console tables, but the blueprint was there,” says Ferguson. “I kind of knew what was going to be expected of me. I’m there as a liaison between the family and the designers and as a stand-in for the audience, as well. I’m a fan of design and renovation and it’s a fun fish-out-of-water element we’re bringing to this version. Instead of being a carpenter I’m the person that says, ‘Oh my God. We’re putting this in this room and that in that room?! That’s amazing!’ I experience it as a viewer, as well.”
Ferguson’s enthusiasm is evident in “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” despite a challenging shooting schedule.
“I was also shooting the beginning part of the last season of ‘Modern Family’ while doing this season of ‘Makeover’ so my time was somewhat limited,” he says. “I had to fly in and out of town and had to really try to make it work with my schedule. There were times where I had to let the designers take over, but I’m an integral part of all the episodes.”
And, with “Modern Family” ending, Ferguson says he’s comfortable letting the chips fall where they may regarding future acting projects.
“My career has constantly surprised me,” he says. “I thought I would just be a theater actor in New York and I’ve been on TV for the past 15 years — so I’ve learned not to question things and to not grip too tightly on the wheel of my career.
“I’m also having a baby this year [he’s married to Justin Mikita] and I’m told that takes up a little bit of your time,” he jokes. “That’s probably going to be my number one priority this next year. I’m so happy I have this [Broadway] play this summer [‘Take Me Out,’ co-starring Patrick J. Adams] to go to. I always love going back to the theater, where I feel most at home.
“I definitely have a lot on my plate now so I don’t feel a huge urgency to nail myself down to the next big thing,” he says, “though I might have already done that with ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition!’”
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