It's almost impossible to imagine Modern Family without one of its talented castmembers.

But turns out, Ed O'Neill, who plays Jay Pritchett on the ABC show, almost didn't get cast in the hit comedy.

"When I read it I thought, ‘Oh boy, this is pretty good,'" the 67-year-old actor recalls. "And I called my manager and he said, ‘Well, they're out to Craig T. Nelson.'"

"They couldn't really decide between Craig and Ed," casting director Jeff Greenberg adds. "They're both wonderful comic actors." 

Modern Family, Ed O'Neill, Rico Rodriguez, Sofía Vergara

ABC/Bob D'Amico

Despite Ed's obvious chemistry with his TV wife Sofia Vergara (who plays Gloria Pritchett), his impeccable comedic timing and his onscreen connection with the other Family members, the actor was not originally offered the role.

"[We] chose Craig T. Nelson," Greenberg says. "And so the first offer went out to Craig and we couldn't make a deal. He wanted to do it, but financially we were just too apart."

And after recognizing the huge potential of the show, O'Neill jumped at the opportunity to be a part of the project.

"About a week later, they called and said, ‘We're back to you,'" Ed says. "So I said, 'Make the deal.'"

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This year, the actor received his third Emmy nomination for Outstanding Actor in a Comedy series for his role on the award-winning show.

Safe to say joining America's favorite TV family was one of the actor's best decisions.

For even more scoop on the hit series, be sure to watch the Modern Family: E! Entertainment Special airing Sunday, September 8 at 9:00pm ET/PT.  Then tune in for the fifth season premiere on ABC Wednesday, September 25 at 9PM ET/PT, and catch repeats when the show airs from the very beginning, on USA Tuesday, September 24th at 8:00pm ET/PT.

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