Sarah Hyland: Modern Family didn’t accommodate me post-kidney transplant

Over the holidays last December my friend had a yen for watching the 1999 tv version of Annie. We’re not even ten minutes into the movie and who pops up as orphan Molly but a baby, doe-eyed Sarah Hyland! She really has been working forever. Both her parents are New York actors, so that must have helped her get started. Her resume is doubly impressive considering the extensive health issues she’s had her whole life. Born with kidney dysplasia, a condition where the kidneys don’t form properly in utero, she’s had more than 16 surgeries, two of which were kidney transplants. In 2012 her father donated a kidney, only for her body to reject it and in 2017 she had another transplant, this time donated by her brother (which *knock wood* has taken). While appearing on the Dinner’s on Me podcast, hosted by her Modern Family costar (and wedding officiant) Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Sarah spoke more candidly about the pain she was in when they were shooting the series:

I don’t know how she did this: “There are some episodes of Modern Family where I do not remember filming because I was asleep. Dead-ass asleep,” she said. “I was not able to be awake for eight hours at a time. I was so exhausted all the time,” she explained, noting that she was only able to stay awake from the very moments scenes began and finished shooting. “I’d be on the set, we’d be filming, I’d be dead asleep, my head on the table, I would hear, ‘and…’ and my head would go up.”

F—ing high heels: She and Jesse went on to recall a specific day that they were shooting a scene that involved her pushing a car. Jesse begins, “I remember a day when we were shooting—I don’t remember the specifics of the scene, and you might not remember it because I think you were in an intense amount of pain that day—but we were pushing a car?” In response, Sarah revealed that she actually had gout in her foot at the time, which meant that she had to use crutches on set. “I was on dialysis, I had gout. It was wild,” she said, before later explaining that she got gout after being put on medication for retaining too much water. Then, Sarah revealed that despite being in the “most excruciating pain,” the Modern Family producers “insisted” that she film the scene in high heels. “They put me in high heels,” she said. “They had not established my outfit yet, and they insisted that I was wearing heels.”

Jesse took care of her: “I remember there was a day on set… I think I was in rejection on dialysis, and I was just in an extreme amount of pain,” she said. Explaining that “there wasn’t enough time” to go back to her trailer in between takes, Sarah said, “But I also could barely move. So I found a little corner, I sat in a chair… and I was just kind of curled up into a ball.” Sarah told Jesse, “You came up to me and very lightly touched me on the shoulder… You were just like, ‘Can I get you anything? Is there anything you need? I’m here for you.’”

Her coping was to ignore the pain: Noting that she has a “workhorse mentality,” which she said she gets from her parents, Sarah went on, “You don’t know when the next job is going to be, and if you don’t work hard and if you complain, you get the boot. So for me, I ignored how I felt.” And Sarah added that while this mentality was “most definitely not healthy,” it was “the only way” she knew how to deal with the pain.

[From BuzzFeed]

By my internet sleuthing, the episode where Sarah and Jesse had to move a car is from Season 8 which aired between 2016-2017. By that point Modern Family had won 22 Emmy Awards. My point? The f—ing high heels weren’t necessary, what a dickhead thing for the producers to do. Truly, I don’t know how she did any of what she did based on what she describes here. She was passed out from pain but able to snap into character the minute the cameras rolled? And be funny?! Nailing comedic timing is no joke. (Har har, yes pun intended.) I’m glad she’s feeling well enough to talk about her experiences, and I hope she’s enjoyed her first year of marriage with a good hubby. She’s earned some good times. As for MF producers Steven Levitan and Christopher Lloyd, how about you film yourselves walking around in high heels for a day, as a way to step back into her good graces.

Photos credit: Faye’s Vision/Cover Images, JPI Studios / Avalon and via Instagram

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