A veteran actor, the 44-year-old Burrell has played a psychiatrist in the 2008 version of "The Incredible Hulk," an arrogant ladies' man fighting zombies in "Dawn of the Dead" and a weatherman on the sitcom "Back to You." He's also got two films in the can awaiting release: the comedy "Butter" and the family drama "Goats."
But it's his turn as the lovable but clueless dad, Phil Dunphy, that put Burrell on the Hollywood map and earned him an Emmy. The third season of the show began earlier this month.
He described winning the award as a "very fun surprise," adding, "But my low self-esteem will keep me from ever acknowledging that I've ever won an Emmy."
Burrell's critically acclaimed comedy is about three intersecting California families that's filmed in the same "mockumentary" style as "The Office" or "Parks & Recreation," in which the characters sometimes are interviewed by filmmakers.
Phil and Claire Dunphy (Julie Bowen, who won an Emmy for best supporting actress in a comedy) are a middle-aged couple with three kids who try their best as they experience the day-to-day trials of raising a family. Meanwhile, Claire's gay brother, Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson), and his partner, Cameron (played by last year's Emmy winner, Eric Stonestreet), are trying to raise their newly adopted baby girl. Finally, Claire and Mitchell's father, Jay ("Married. . .with Children's" Ed O'Neill), is married to the voluptuous and much younger Gloria (Sofia Vergara).
"Modern Family" has won back-to-back Emmys for best comedy, the kind of recognition that has re-energized the cast. "Last year was super thrilling, and going back to work was incredible," said Burrell, who has yet to return to the set after the Emmy ceremony Sept. 18. "It was just a fun thing, and I expect it to be the same. Nobody on the show is jaded at all. We're just still giddy schoolkids over the fact we're on this show and we have this job."
And winning TV's highest honor has been just another big milestone for Burrell in the past year and a half. The actor and his wife, Holly, who was born and raised near Fruit Heights in Davis County, adopted a baby girl about a year ago (he says they've given the writers good ideas based on their child-rearing experiences). And Burrell, along with his brother and several others, bought and reopened the Bar-X in downtown Salt Lake City.
"The Bar-X is doing really well," he said. "My wife and I go down at least once a week to say hi. It's the only place I know of that makes drinks like that. We're really big fans of well-made classic cocktails."
A native of Oregon, Burrell was introduced to Utah after performing at the Utah Shakespeare Festival, playing small roles in plays including "Henry V" and "Hamlet." Now he spends half of the year in Los Angeles filming the show and the other half in Salt Lake City, which he calls home. (He'll return to Utah next month during a break in shooting.)
"I could cry just talking about Ty Burrell," co-star Bowen told More magazine. "This is a man who lives in Utah. In this industry, most people are committed to Hollywood or Beverly Hills or Malibu. This is a man who is committed to Utah."
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TV's 'Modern Family'
Watch Burrell's TV clan on Wednesday at 8 p.m. on KTVX Channel 4.