Jesse Tyler Ferguson: How I astounded my mum

By admin
10 May 2015

Jesse Tyler Ferguson's mother was "confused" when he was cast to play a mixed race child.

The 39-year-old actor is best known for playing the lovable Mitchell Pritchett in comedy series Modern Family, but his roles haven't always been so enjoyable.

Recalling his first ever acting job, Jesse remembers how the part puzzled his mum Anne.

'My mom was very confused'

"I've played some strange roles, but one of the most surprising for me was I did a CBS miniseries called Sally Hemings: An American Scandal. I played one of Sally Hemings' half-black children. Um, that's right... Carmen Ejogo played Sally Hemings, she was my mother, Diahann Carroll played my grandmother and then I played one of the Hemings children," he explained in a web exclusive for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

"She [Sally] famously had very light-skinned red-headed children because Thomas Jefferson [Sam Neill] had red hair so I did fit the part. My mom was very confused, she thought maybe they'd be doing something to my face and I was like, 'Nope, just as it is.'"

His story gets even more amusing as he revealed the most "humiliating" part of the project. Those working on the show asked if he could ride a horse for a scene in which his slave character flees a plantation, to which Jesse responded with a fib.

"And so I said, 'Of course I can ride a horse.' I can't ride a horse," he sighed, muttering the last line under his breath. "It's not a horse with a saddle, they didn't have saddles back then so I had to just be bareback on a horse and you steer the horse by holding onto its mane and I didn't know what I was doing, so the horse is kind of going this [he moves his hand in a zigzag fashion]."

In the end, after failing to steer the stallion in a straight line, producers resulted in shooting the scene from a distance through a window "smeared with Vaseline".

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