‘Can’t be picky’ Sofia Vergara’s truth as Modern Family ends
If Sofia Vergara had her way, Modern Family would be the Law & Order of comedy TV.
As the acclaimed and pioneering show - which pushed boundaries and made Vergara a star - comes to a close, the 47-year-old Colombian-born bombshell would dig in her high heels and stay on if she could.
While parting has already proved a sweet sorrow for the cast, fans get their chance to say their goodbyes when the farewell episode airs in Australia this week.
And despite the tears, Vergara tells News Corp Australia of the ending, she "couldn't wish for anything better in the world."
"I can't wait for everyone to see it, but I'm very sad that it's ending. It's been 11 years but I could go forever," she enthuses.
"Why can't it be Law & Order? It was the dream job and if I could do it all again I would and I wouldn't change anything. Everything was perfect - the scripts, the cast, the writers … We became a family so it's hard to say goodbye."
The final scenes were emotional to film, Vergara admits - with her co-stars flooding their social media accounts with teary behind-the-scenes snapshots.
"It was bad. We were so upset - all of us. We are really going to miss each other. It's not about the work, it's the people. I'm never going to see them every day like I did. You lose contact in this business. I'm going to miss them. I already miss them!"
As for saying goodbye to her character Gloria, she is grateful for the chance to play such a sassy woman who still hits close to home.
"I love Gloria. When I think of her, it's like thinking of my aunt and my mother. They are intense and they are passionate. They dress sexy and colourful. They are loud, just like Gloria."
Celebrating her signature Spanglish and making her luscious curves her greatest asset, Vergara rose from being a forgettable bit part in movies including Tyler Perry's Madea Goes To Jail, to the highest paid woman on US television, thanks to her Modern Family role.
At the peak of the program's ratings, Vergara topped a Forbes magazine list of TV pay packets - with estimated earnings of $19 million a year.
Not bad for a cattle farmer's daughter and single mum, who moved her now 27-year-old son Manolo, as well as her mother and sister to Miami, Florida, in 1998 - escaping the violence which saw her older brother murdered in Bogota during a botched kidnap attempt.
Supporting her family has driven Vergara to build an empire which includes her own production company, a fashion line and assorted licensing deals on top of her Modern Family royalties.
But there's no resting on her laurels now her money-making show is over, she assures.
"I can't be that picky because the truth is that I still feel very new to acting. I've never had an acting class in my life, so I always feel very honoured to have a director or my agents call me to offer me a part. Unless it's something that I know I can't do - like if they're looking for singers - then I'll go to that audition. If it's a role I think that I can do, I'll do it because for me it's all a learning experience."
Her next work opportunity - as a judge on America's Got Talent - was completely unexpected.
"I didn't think I was going to get so lucky," she says, "but it's good to mix it up for a while and then see what happens."
Showing off her sharp sense of humour when asked if she's every judged anything before, she quips: "well, my friends and my cousins, I judge them all the time (laughing)."
She was made welcome to the set like the new kid at school.
"I needed to learn new names, I needed to make new friends and know where my locker was," she jokes, but "there's always that anxiety when something is new but now I'm fine."
"Heidi Klum gave me flowers. I also had cake and more flowers! Everybody was super warm and welcoming.
There were clearly perks in her arrival for super producer and judge, Simon Cowell, who re-ordered the desk placements and insisted he be right beside his buxom new co-star.
"It wasn't a choice," Vergara says. "They told me to sit down there and I did it. Simon has a lot of experience on this show, so when you are new that is who you want to be with. That is how I learn."
Less time with her Modern Family family means the married mother of one is enjoying more time with her real loved ones - especially actor husband Joe Manganiello.
The Magic Mike star and Vergara, who wed in 2015, tease each other over Instagram - with Manganiello recently irritating his wife by growing a beard.
"I don't love it but he's doing it for a role. He needs the beard for the character he's playing in a movie. He has been working on it for three months, but I'm hoping he'll soon be done with it."
In a self-serving change of heart, she jokes: "I kind of like it but I feel it makes him look a little bit older and that makes me look younger so," she shrugs.
SO LONG, STELLA
In a sad postscript to the end of Modern Family, the Pritchett family's beloved French bulldog, Stella died just days after the show wrapped.
The nine-year-old, whose real name was Beatrice, was honoured by the show's co-creator Steven Levitan for her hard work and warmth on set.
"While she was occasionally a major diva who made unreasonable demands and often questioned her 'motivation,' most of the time Beatrice was a delightful and loveable presence on the Modern Family set. She brought smiles wherever she went and was completely convincing in her role as a dog."
* Modern Family, seasons 1-9 streaming Foxtel Now. Season 11 double-episode finale airs 8.30pm, Wednesday on Seven.
Originally published as 'Can't be picky': Sofia Vergara's truth as Modern Family ends