MODERN FAMILY’s Eric Stonestreet to Play Fatty Arbuckle in HBO Film THE DAY THE LAUGHTER STOPPED

     August 22, 2011


The actor has already won an Emmy for his fantastic work as one-half of one of the funniest gay couples on TV in the ABC comedy series Modern Family, but now Eric Stonestreet is taking on another gig that could likely end up snagging him another golden statue. Stonestreet is attached to play legendary silent-film star Fatty Arbuckle in The Day the Laughter Stopped, a new TV movie set up at HBO from John Adams writer Kirk Ellis and You Don’t Know Jack director Barry Levinson attached to helm. Based on David A. Yallop’s book of the same name, the film chronicles the sudden and tragic downfall of Arbuckle’s career after facing false accusations of rape and murder. More after the jump.

eric-stonestreet-imageWhen Arbuckle checked into a suite at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco, it was just supposed to be a good time relaxing between a couple of film shoots, but after a big holiday party, the movie star found himself being charged with the rape and murder of actress Virginia Rappe, another hotel guest. Despite the fact that Arbuckle ended up being acquitted of all charges, his career went straight down the tubes, including three completed films that were shelved after his star came crashing down. It’s a sad story about a great artist who writer Kirk Ellis calls, “the biggest and most loved star of the time, bigger than Chaplin, especially with children.”

As for Stonestreet’s casting, Vulture reports that the actor has long hoped he would land a role playing Arbuckle since the late 90’s. He says:

“In addition to the fact that I’m from Kansas and he’s from Kansas, I just always found it to be such a fascinating and tragic story. He went from this jolly person who fell down and entertained people into a sexual deviant. It’s a true story people don’t know about, with a twist.”

Of course, Stonestreet had to do some extra work for the part by asking a couple well-known makeup-artist friends of his to turn him into Arbuckle with their wonderful talents. Using some pictures from a quick photo session, executives at HBO were convinced that Stonestreet could easily get lost in the character, and separate himself from the flamboyant character he so fantastically plays on Modern Family.

This is just the kind of challenging role that has the potential to broaden Stonestreet’s range as an actor, and it just might land him more supporting roles in more dramas down the road. And with Levinson at the helm of the TV feature, here’s hoping this new project gets just as much Emmy love as You Don’t Know Jack, his previous collaboration with HBO Films starring Al Pacino.