Sarah Hyland Remembers Early Movie Roles — And How She Was a Diva on Her First Set

Sarah Hyland has become a star for playing Haley, the overly materialist (yet secretly wise) oldest sibling on the hit sitcom Modern Family. But the New York native actually carved out a nice little childhood film career long before taking up residence on prime-time, having spent her earliest years appearing in such films as Private Parts (1997), The Object of My Affection (1998), and Spanglish (2004).

The actress returns to the movie world with See You in Valhalla, a new comedic drama that she also produced. She plays Johana, who returns home after the tragic death of her brother to help give him the Viking burial that he always wanted. (Unlike Modern Family, the 24-year-old Hyland plays a woman her own age, which was a major draw for her.)

Watch in the video above as Hyland remembers the movies that set her young career in motion, and how developed some major divatude on her very first film set. At least she got that out of her system early.

Some of the highlights:

Private Parts (1997)
Long before Hyland called Ty Burrell “Dad” on Modern Family, her on- screen father was none other than iconic shock-jock Howard Stern, who played himself in this hit biographical comedy. It was Hyland’s own dad, actor Edward James Hyland, who encouraged her to audition for the part, using a bootleg VHS copy of the Disney classic Aristocats as bait.

Once she got the gig, Hyland, who was only 4 at the time, admits to immediately taking on the Hollywood diva persona: “There was a PA, and he was like, ‘I’ll get you anything you need.’ I was like, 'PA — oh, like personal assistant! I was like, ‘[I want] Blimpie and chocolate-covered strawberries!’ And somehow he found it. ”

The Object of My Affection (1998)
Hyland added another mega-famous screen parent to her résumé in this rom-com, playing the daughter of Jennifer Aniston. But what she remembers most vividly is having “the biggest crush” on Aniston’s co-star Paul Rudd, whom sh’d swooned over in Clueless. “I was dying inside when I first met him,” she said. “I ran into Paul a couple years ago and he was like, 'Hey! You’re so big!’ I was like, 'Yeah, I have boobs now.’”

Cradle Will Rock (1999)
Hyland, along with her father, was a part of the large ensemble  that made up this Tim Robbins-directed period drama about theater and political turmoil in 1930s New York (the actress describes her part as “the shy girl with no lines”). “It was a lot of fun playing dressup,” she recalled. “But we filmed in the middle of summer in New York, and they were all vintage dresses so they were all wool. So I remember itching a lot, and very heavily sweating.”

Spanglish (2004)
The actress refers to this James L. Brooks dramedy as her brother’s movie, since her younger bro played Adam Sandler and Téa Leoni’s son. Credited as “Sleepover Friend,” her role, which she was roped-into at the last minute, was miniscule: “It’s me literally running from a car into the house, and then just sitting on a couch smiling like a doofus.”

See You in Valhalla is now in theaters, as well as on VOD and iTunes. Watch the trailer: