Modern Family’s Nolan Gould by Arthur Galvao

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When life has got you down and you need a good laugh the show you can always count on is Modern Family. From the very beginning, we loved the curly-haired kid brother Luke now coming of age on and off the screen.  BELLO recently got a chance to sit down with the former kid, Nolan Gould, and discuss his bright future in Hollywood as an adult. We also dig into his personal style, celebrating 209 episodes, and dating in Los Angeles.

Photography Arthur Galvao | Styling Luke Funcheta | Grooming Grace Phillips | Creative Direction Stephane Marquet | Production MAISON PRIVEE X BELLO MEDIA GROUP | Special Thanks to Sean Reilly @thebrand.partners.

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Having nine years under your belt with two more to go- how do you manage to keep “Luke” fresh after all this time? “We have to give credit to the writers. We are so lucky to have them, and because the character of Luke has changed so much, it is easy. He has grown up physically and emotionally- he is not a static character. The writers have ingeniously changed Luke from a sweet dumb kid to this somewhat evil genius and now we are dealing with important life decisions like him deciding not to go to college. Luke is such an interesting story to tell and I think many people can identify with his real-life experiences.”

The audience certainly loves to hang out with Modern Family every week but who do you hang out with when the camera stops rolling? “I have a lot of buddies. Our dynamic changes as I grow up but at the moment I am really close with Ty [Burrell]. Not only as an actor but as a regular role model. He is truly one of the nicest most real people. To meet someone like him in Hollywood is almost impossible. Of course, Ariel [Winter]. We both started this journey at 10 years old and we have grown up together; she is like my sister. I learn from her!”

We know Ariel [Winter] is such an advocate for anti-body shaming and cyberbullying, but we wondered if you had any experiences dealing with negative comments via social media? “I got body shamed when I was 11… by my Grandma. I was 10 years old, packing on the pounds after being on set with access to unlimited snacks, and she made a comment about it! But when it comes from her, it means something so at 11 I decided to start going to the gym. In retrospect probably not the best idea. Overall, I have remained pretty lucky as far as that world goes. You have to find a level you are comfortable with opening up to the public. I am still figuring out how much to share. I have taken the safer route and remained closed off. People want to attack you. You never want to give them anything to talk about. However, I am very political and environmentally aware so I do a lot of commentary on those issues and that opens you up to a different kind of attention. Recently, I was just in a bad mood so instead of staying off the internet I went on Instagram and started responding but in a way that made me feel good. Let’s be polite, have a discussion. If you disagree with one of my points let’s talk about it but I am going to win!”

You have come out as being a very intelligent person. With an IQ of 150+, you are a certified genius. Was there any pressure to pursue something more stable and academic because of your gift? “This is actually something that I am currently going through. I am figuring out my own feelings about it. I recently got accepted into a prestigious program for cinematic arts but I decided that I am going to defer. My family is truly supportive and this is probably a different path than what people saw for me, but Modern Family is a one in a billion opportunity. I decided I have two years left on the show so I skip college for now, and take a bet on myself.” It turns out brilliance runs in the family. Nolan’s brother, Aidan, is also a certified genius. “Both me and my brother are genii’, I think that’s the proper term. That’s what people keep telling me! It is very embarrassing but I have a genius card for a MENSA membership. My family gave my brother and me the option to go to gifted schools & genius meetings to discuss nuclear fusion, but we decided not to be normal and pursue the arts. We are the first members of our family to do that. We come from a traditional family from the south.”

Obviously, we have to talk about your fashion. What is your personal style like? “It is something I am still trying to find. I recently stopped growing so I can finally buy designer clothes I won’t grow out of. What’s the point of buying Saint Laurent if you outgrow it immediately? I love GStar, All Saints, Denim & Supply… things that show a little more of my edge. As a young actor I do want to show that I take this seriously, so I usually show up to events always in suits. I look at things I like and think that is fashionable but I don’t know why. I need a lot of help but I do like fashion. It’s all new to me! I can decide what kind of person I want to be and how I show myself to the world. It’s all for me to decide so stay tuned.”

Dating is hard but there must be an added element of difficulty being a young Hollywood star. How has dating worked out for you so far? “It’s difficult. There are certain aspects of my life that people don’t understand when your dating. I can’t text you back all the time. We can’t always go out in public together; people will ask questions and it’s going to make your life difficult. It’s hard for a lot of people outside of the industry to understand. It’s also hard to make it work with people inside the industry. There are a lot of complexes and egos and you always have to wonder if the person you are with is using you for who you are. On one hand, I am a cynical teenager and think love is just a chemical reaction and true love doesn’t exist but at the same time, I am also a hopeless romantic in a lot of ways. I am young and I have time.”

You have done a comedic show for 9 years now- 209 episodes and counting. What kind of roles do you see yourself portraying in the future? “Drama. For sure. Modern Family is the first comedy I ever did, I guess it turned out okay but I do want to get back into drama, specifically feature films. I also would like to get into writing- I think that is something every actor should do. I think it makes you a better actor.”

We also were told you are quite the musician and play some unusual instruments “It was a weird obsession as a kid but I liked to pick the strangest instruments and learn them. I currently play the banjo, the double bass, sitar, and theremin. This is when my parents should have stepped in! They should have told me maybe to lay off the banjo if you want to have a girlfriend. People my own age still have to break away from all of the emotional things they go through trying to fit in. Playing the banjo is more of an outsider thing. I do want to explore music- not professionally. Not every actor has to release an album. Personally, as a hobby, I would love to get into playing my bass in a jazz band. I would love to go to a street corner with my bass, a snare, and a high hat and play. I feel that is a great way to entertain people that don’t involve me or my status.”

Outside of the arts, you are quite the thrill-seeking outdoorsman. “I am known for getting hurt on every location shoot on Modern Family. 8 stitches in my knee in Hawaii in season 1. Filming in Jackson Hole I fell off a fence and have scars from that, but recently this season, in Lake Tahoe, I went mountain biking alone. I didn’t tell anyone what trail I was on because I like that added element of danger. I took 1 bottle of water, no food, and no map. 6 miles up I flip my bike, gash my knee open, and immediately take a selfie. I make it back covered in mud and blood everywhere. It didn’t match continuity. If you go back and watch the episode, in certain scenes Luke has the injury. They had to cut around it because it was so obvious. But backpacking, scuba diving, surfing are all my passions. If I wasn’t an actor I would be doing that full time. LA’s version of nature is Runyon Canyon with a kale juice. I like dirty, exhausting, scary. I like pushing myself and proving to myself that I can. Scuba diving is a very personal self-reflective thing. Going down 80ft not focusing on the fact that the ocean is trying to kill you. Everything about scuba diving is just a solution to a problem of dying. Going down there and just breathing is very therapeutic. It is the closest human beings will ever come to flying.”

You have already lived such a full life at 19. Is there any advice you want to share with other young actors? “I would say make sure you surround yourself with good people. It is how I have managed to stay grounded. Surround yourself with people who are real with you and that realness comes from them loving you. Have a life outside of acting. I think this is where a lot of young actors miss out. Acting is so amazing and easy to get so passionate about and it does take up so much of your time. But the industry moves on fast and if you truly believe this is the rest of your life and you wake up one day and it’s not- I think that’s where a lot of young people spiral out of control. They’re still chasing what they used to have and don’t know where to go with the rest of their life. Make sure to have friends, family, hobbies, interests, back up plans, education… even though I am skipping college, for now, it is so important. I do already have an associate’s degree!”

“The most important thing is my reputation. It means more to me than anything, probably even more than my career.  If I can at the end of the day walk out of this industry and still have people believe in me and still have my soul intact then I think I have succeeded. I have made it 14 years in this industry and I still feel normal. I am hopeful for the future.”

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Featured in BELLO issue #161

About The Author

Stephane Marquet
Creative Director

First of all, excuse my French! … I was born in the South of France. Lived in Paris for 10 years and travelled the world until I moved to Los Angeles in 2008, because obviously recession was a great time to move to a new country! I also arrived around Halloween and was greeted at the Social Security offices by a nurse who directed to the window Number 6 so a witch could hand me my social security number. Welcome to America. I am a painter, a photographer and the creative director of BELLO mag.

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