Jesse Tyler Ferguson Reveals He Was Once Naked on Stage in His 20s: 'It Was Terrifying'
Jesse Tyler Ferguson is getting candid about having to strip down during his early years in theater.
While discussing his role in the Tony-winning Broadway revival of Richard Greenberg's Take Me Out — which closed on Feb. 5 and featured several nude scenes — the Modern Family alum, 47, recounted his own past experience having to act while nude on stage.
"When I was 21 or 22, I did a production of The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, which is a Paul Rudnick play," Ferguson told The New York Times in an "exit interview" published Monday. "It was terrifying, and the internet wasn't what it is now and social media didn't exist."
While Ferguson didn't have to take his clothes off for Take Me Out, several of his costars (including Grey's Anatomy alum Jesse Williams) did. The nudity, and illegally snapped photos of it that were leaked online, prompted the theater to require audience members to lock their phones away during the duration of the play.
"I really look up to these guys who are doing this," he added. "It takes a lot of bravery. There's three actors in this show who don't have to get naked and we're all looking at one another like, 'Oh, we can have carbs!' "
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John Lamparski/Getty Jesse Williams and Jesse Tyler Ferguson in Take Me Out
The revival of Take Me Out first opened on Broadway in April 2022, before wrapping its initial run at the Hayes Theatre that June. It went on to win the coveted best revival of a play trophy at the 2022 Tonys, prompting a return to boards — this time at the Schoenfeld Theatre — on Nov. 11, 2022.
Ferguson told PEOPLE back then that he was thrilled to be returning to Broadway for another limited run in the play, which follows a fictional baseball star (Williams) who faces a slew of prejudices after coming out as gay.
"It's great to do another run of this play without any worry about critics and reviews," he said at the time. "We've been reviewed and people have loved the show, and we don't have to worry about will we be nominated for things. We've already won a Tony for best revival."
The show — which was directed by Scott Ellis and also stared Bill Heck — was particularly monumental for Ferguson, who played accountant Mason Marzac. The part earned him his first Tony award for best performance by an actor in a featured role in a play.
RELATED: Jesse Tyler Ferguson Takes Time to 'Brag' on Husband Justin Mikita as He Wins at 2022 Tony Awards
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"Twenty-five years ago, I worked at the Theatre Circle gift shop on 44th Street, which happens to be three doors down from the Hayes Theater, where Take Me Out is playing," Ferguson began his acceptance speech at the awards show, which is theater's highest honor. "And I would sit in there and I would be folding my Phantom of the Opera T-shirts and watching actors walk by the windows on the way to their half-hour call and I thought, 'Oh God, I hope that's me someday."
"So to stand in front of this community I admire and love so much just means so much to me," Ferguson said. "I cannot believe I get to do this for a living."
Before the show closed its run on Sunday, some of Ferguson's former Modern Family costars showed up to support him including Julie Bowen, who took in a performance during a trip to the Big Apple at the end of January.
"Best night at the theater ever!" she wrote on Instagram, sharing a photo of the two at the theater after his performance (as well as a picture she snapped outside with the show's art). "@jessetyler is PHENOMENAL in Take Me Out. The whole cast was perfection."
RELATED: Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Julie Bowen Have a Modern Family Reunion at Take Me Out on Broadway
"I'm so proud to call you my fake brother, Jesse!" added Bowen, of her on-screen sibling. "I love you!!"
He wrote, "My soul and heart needed this reunion with @itsjuliebowen. Thank you for coming to @takemeoutbway! I ❤️you Julie."