Eric Stonestreet, 41, stars as Cameron Tucker in the ABC comedy Modern Family, the award-winning series now in its fourth season. Stonestreet has won two Emmy Awards for the show, plus Television Critics Association Award and Golden Globe Award nominations.
When he's not playing a gay, stay-at-home father with a wicked sense of humor, Stonestreet takes on the role of a straight, working dad to 13-year-old pup Coleman Hawkins. A DNA test (a gift from a friend) shows Coleman is half beagle, half Jack Russell, and Stonestreet insists he is extraordinarily intelligent.
It's hard to say which of the two -- the farm-boy-turned-Hollywood or the large dog in a little body -- has the bigger personality. And the pair converse and bicker, in their own way, like any long-time couple. But at the end of the day, it's clear to any outsider that the members of this modern family couldn't be more madly in love.
Where did Coleman Hawkins' name come from?
"He was already named on the rescue web site when I got him in 2001. Coleman Hawkins is the famous tenor saxophonist from Kansas City, where I'm from. And I like the idea that he has a first and last name."
How much do you find yourself talking to Coleman?
"An embarrassing amount. I have full-on conversations with him. I talk to him because he looks at you and listens like a person. One of the funniest conversations we ever had -- I came home from work one night and saw him peering out the window. I went into the house, and he's nowhere to be seen. I found him in bed, under the covers. I said, 'I just saw you in the window! You can't pretend you're asleep!' And I thought, 'I can't believe I'm having this conversation with my dog.'"
Some people have voices for their pets, like when they are recounting what the pet would say if he could talk. Do you have a voice for Coleman?
"It's more of an attitude than a voice. I always say, if I was able to tell Coleman that he only weighs 22 pounds, he'd be shocked and call me a liar. He thinks he's a 65-pound dog. He's a pretty confident fellow."
What are your worst habits with Coleman?
"I followed The Art of Raising a Puppy by the Monks of New Skete, and I was really strict with him the first six months, so he knows I'm the alpha in the relationship. If an emergency comes up and I don't get home in time to let him out, and he absolutely has to go No. 2, he always does this in the guest bathroom. We recently moved into a new house, and he's already figured out where the guest bathroom is."