Proof Modern Family's Jeremy Maguire Is All Grown Up 4 Years After Playing Joe Pritchett

An "old soul" at 12, Modern Family's Jeremy Maguire spoke to E! News about playing 4-year-old Joe, bonding with Sofía Vergara and Ed O'Neill, and being compared to Leonardo DiCaprio.

By Natalie Finn Apr 07, 2024 2:00 PMTags
Watch: "Modern Family" Star Jeremy Maguire Offers His Take on Series End

Even though Jeremy Maguire was only 4 when he joined the cast of Modern Family, he just wanted to be one of the guys.

"I've been told I'm a 30-year-old in a kid's body," the now 12-year-old actor told E! News' Francesca Amiker in an exclusive interview. "I've been told I'm an old soul. Which, I do think that of myself, too."

Incidentally, Jeremy has also been compared to a young Leonardo DiCaprio. Though while he obviously takes that as a big compliment ("Maybe I'll play his son one day!"), he wouldn't go so far as to agree: "I can't believe people compare me to that legend. It's crazy."

But all legends have an origin story and, like a certain Oscar winner, Jeremy's big break came stealing scenes on a hit ABC sitcom. In his case, he took over the role of Joe Pritchett, the son of Ed O'Neill and Sofía Vergara's Jay and Gloria Pritchett, in 2015 from even younger predecessors.

Modern Family Cast's Last Day on Set

A year later, Jeremy was walking the red carpet at the Emmys—some heroes wear capes with their tuxedos—and then in 2017 he shared in his first SAG Award nomination as a member of Modern Family's estimable ensemble.

So, let's say Jeremy—not to be confused with Jerry Maguire—had an auspicious introduction to Hollywood.

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Still, despite perks like meeting with Ryan Reynolds—"He was so nice," Jeremy marveled of the Deadpool star—spending so many formative years on camera wasn't easy.

"When you're growing up and there's a camera in front of your face, sometimes you don't wrap your head around the fact that these aren't your actual family," he explained. "And that's just really hard, especially for me because, you know, I love everybody. After Modern ended, I was so sad 'cause only life I've ever known."

Luckily he had his real family by his side throughout, crediting his mom (who's also his manager) for getting up at 5 a.m. every day and spending hours on set. Her "hard work and dedication is a model for me," he said, "and how I want to be in the future." 

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And his parents have been extremely supportive of his career, which, when he stopped to think about it, was pretty great of them. While he was filming Disney+'s Turner & Hooch reboot starting in September 2020, "They moved to Canada, for me, for nine months," Jeremy said. "They lived in the snowy mountains just so I could work! That's just wonderful, and I take it for granted a lot."

Self-awareness, check.

Child Stars Then and Now

As for his TV family, Jeremy had a lot of fun working with the next-youngest actor on set, now-16-year-old Aubrey Anderson-Emmons, who played Lily, the adopted daughter of Cameron (Eric Stonestreet) and Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson).

"She wasn't an adult, but she wasn't a 'kid,'" Jeremy said appreciatively. He also liked having "a fake older brother" in now-25-year-old Rico Rodriguez, who played Joe's half-brother Manny. (Though Jeremy's the big brother in real life and sister Serena makes frequent cameos on his Instagram.)

And he couldn't help but idolize his onscreen parents, calling Ed "the wisest being" he's ever met.

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Jeremy particularly appreciated how the veteran actor treated him "like an equal." He recalled a day when he kept fumbling a line, and Ed "was like, 'Come on, you can do this, they're paying you to be here.' I was like, [wow] I was being talked to like an adult."

That gave Jeremy "a sense of urgency" he carries with him to this day, the idea that he better show up prepared and ready to work hard in order to earn his keep.

He also had his "own little bond" with Sofía, and, suffice it to say he'd love to work with her again.

Our Favorite TV Moms

"Of course, I would love to do that," he stressed. "I miss everybody. I miss waking up at 5 a.m. and driving down to L.A. and being there for hours on end. Just sparks pure joy in me to do that."

In the meantime, he's steadily building his resume, having already appeared in the 2017 film I'm Not Here and episodes of General Hospital and the horror drama The Last Ship before Modern Family ended in 2020 after 11 seasons.

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Since his time as a member of the Pritchett family—he's binged Modern Family "like 40 times," minus the final season, which he knows will make him cry—Jeremy has played the dog-loving nephew in Turner & Hooch (he and Rico remotely played video games while he was isolated on set in Canada, mid-pandemic) and last year he appeared on an episode of S.W.A.T.

Jeremy's also a budding writer, breaking out his laptop to capture whatever's on his mind. "It's very therapeutic," he said. "It's just nice to feel your emotions. I've done poems or stories, or little treatments for scripts I thought would be fun to maybe work on in the future." (Paging the Duffer brothers, he's got a Stranger Things treatment he's thinking of pitching. "I've been told I'm good at writing horror," he said.)

But the middle schooler admitted that it can be "very hard and annoying juggling" school and acting, though he's been lucky to have teachers who've supported his career ambitions.

"In the end," he said, "there is an extra sense of achievement when you do finish your homework and you also finish that audition you wanted to send in. There's that feeling that, you did it."

And you don't get that feeling if you're just a student or just an actor.

Jokingly shuddering at the idea of being "normal," Jeremy observed, "It's better to have an outstanding life than it is to just fit in. Because fitting in, after awhile, it just gets boring. You got to the point where you're fitting in, but where's the adventure? So I think it's best for you to just stand out, live your own life."

And one day, people will be telling another young actor that he reminds them of Jeremy Maguire.

Now that you're caught up with the wise-beyond-his-years actor who played Joe, check in with the rest of the Modern Family cast then and now:

Sarah Hyland as Haley Dunphy

Sarah Hyland was 18 when she began playing Haley Dunphy, and is now 31. She's about to get married to Bachelor in Paradise bartender Wells Adams, and is working on a pilot with Emily V. Gordon, based on real-life experiences. 

Ariel Winter as Alex Dunphy

Ariel Winter was 11 when Modern Family began, and is now 23. She hasn't announced any future projects just yet. 

Nolan Gould as Luke Dunphy

Nolan Gould was 10 years old at the start of the series, and he's now 23. He's in an upcoming movie called Camp with Joey King, he's kind of ripped now, and never forget our favorite fun fact about Nolan Gould: He's a member of Mensa! 

Aubrey Anderson-Emmons as Lily Tucker-Pritchett

Aubrey Anderson-Emmons was three when she joined the cast in 2011, and is now 14. 

Rico Rodriguez as Manny Delgado

Rico Rodriguez was 10 when the show began, and is now 23. 

Jeremy Maguire as Joe Pritchett

Jeremy Maguire, who plays Joe, wasn't yet born when the shoe premiered in 2009. He was born in 2011, and joined the show in 2015. He's now 10! 

Ty Burrell as Phil Dunphy

Ty Burrell was 41 at the start of the series, and is now 54. He's currently lending his voice to Fox's animated series Duncanville

Sofia Vergara as Gloria Pritchett

Sofia Vergara was 36 when Modern started filming, and is now 49. In 2020 she signed on to be a judge on America's Got Talent and is starring in the Netflix series Griselda. She is also happily married to Hollywood hunk Joe Manganiello.

Julie Bowen as Claire Dunphy

Julie Bowen was 39 at the start of the series, and is now 51. She starred in the 2020 filme Hubie Halloween alongside Adam Sandler and is producing and starring in an upcoming pilot called Raised by Wolves.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson as Mitchell Pritchett

Jesse Tyler Ferguson was 33 during the pilot and is now 46. He hosted HGTV's Extreme Makeover Home Edition reboot and in July 2020, he and husband Justin Mikita welcomed their first child named Beckett.

Eric Stonestreet as Cam Tucker

Eric Stonestreet was 37 when the pilot filmed, and is now 50.

Ed O'Neill as Jay Pritchett

Ed O'Neill was 63 when Modern began, and is now 75. 

Reid Ewing as Dylan Marshall

Reid Ewing was 20 when the pilot taped, and is now 33.