Hyland isn't just our favorite TV drama queen, though. She also has kicked her film career into high gear with this week's Vampire Academy, a project by the writer of Heathers and that feels more Mean Girls than Twilight — which makes sense, because they share the same director.
Thanks to Modern Family's popularity, Hyland has grown up in the limelight, but that doesn't mean the young superstar isn't grounded. She's got cohabitating problems, Valentine's Day issues, and karaoke fears — just like the rest of us.
What’s more fun to play? Geeky or vampy?
“What about a geeky vamp?”
Touché. Modern Family has received a lot of praise for depicting, well, a modern family. Is this commitment important to you?
“The great thing about our show is we have amazing writers who stay current. Not just with pop culture but with their families. A lot of the stories are taken from the lives of our writers and their friends’ lives. They never try to be controversial — especially with Mitch and Cam. They’re just trying to be honest and true. I think that it’s a wonderful thing that people think we’re progressive, but we’re just trying to portray real life in the States.”
How do you combat the preconception that you are your TV character? Are you looking to take on more edgier roles? Are we going to see your Spring Breakers role?
“Well, it definitely drives me to want to do something that’s different from Haley. I don’t want to be pigeonholed into the popular pretty girl who’s kind of stupid and vapid. That’s the greatest thing I love about Vampire Academy. (My character) Natalie is the complete opposite of Haley. It was so much fun to play. I like to challenge myself, and though Haley is always changing, she genuinely stays true to her popular self. I’m always looking to change and grow as both an actor and person.”
You moved in with your boyfriend when you were 19, which is a huge time of change for anyone. Do you have any tips for maintaining your personal space?
“Here’s my thing: I grew up in a 300-square-foot apartment with a tub in the kitchen in New York City. I don’t 'know' personal space. That’s why, I think at least, it’s easy for me to live with a guy. I’m messy with clothes everywhere. He’s messy with clothes everywhere. The house isn’t dirty; it’s messy, an organized chaos. I honestly like living with guys better than girls. Girls are all over the place, and I don’t like that. It’s too much for me.”
If someone came up to you and asked what you thought about this living situation, what’d you say?
“Don't sacrifice who you are for somebody else. Relationships are about compromise, but you should never compromise yourself for someone else.”
Do you have a really funny Valentine’s Day story, since it is coming up?
“I’m always working on Valentine’s Day! And, if I’m not working, I’ll try to plan something like a romantic dinner, but then the plumbing breaks, the tubs fill with sewage...there’s always something on Valentine’s Day.”
What are your selfie secrets?
“Never do it from below! You get the double-chin action — no matter who you are, you get it.”
So, your character in Vampire Academy is really sympathetic at first because she just wants to be liked, so desperately that it may lead her down a darker path. What have you learned about self-acceptance?
“I think it’s important to remember that you actually don’t have it all together. You might think you do, but you don’t. I look back to when I was 18, and I did have my s**t together, but I thought I knew more than I did. I had control of my life and I knew who I was, but, at the same time, I didn’t know as much. Over the past four, five years I’ve learned and experienced so much more. I’ve changed and grown as a person because of all that. It’s important to know that you will learn more and you will be exposed to more. You don’t know everything and you never will.”
What’s your go-to karaoke song?
“I don’t like to sing karaoke. I hate it. I’ll only do it if I’m drunk.”
Are there any cool stories that you haven’t gotten to tell from the set of Vampire Academy?
“There was a day when me, Zoe, and Cameron kept tweeting pictures of food in our trailer. We were all waiting to film in our trailers, and I took a picture of my eggs, Cameron took a picture of an apple, and Zoe brought it to the next level with a photo of broccoli. I don’t know why she had a whole broccoli tree in her trailer, but hey.”
Who would win if the vampires from Twilight went up against the vampires in Vampire Academy?
“Well, the Moroi aren’t used to fighting for themselves. It’s the Dhampir who do it for them. I don’t know, though! It’s hard to say because the vampires in Twilight can almost fly, and the Moroi in Vampire Academy have elemental powers. I’d probably say the vampires in Vampire Academy would win. But, really, I have no idea. They fight when they need to. Technically, they don’t live in the same world, so it really would never happen.”
So, word on the street is you met Rihanna. Did you really sing "Stay" to her?
“I think people misunderstood my Tweet. Rihanna walked by the room, and I started singing ‘Stay’ to her, but I didn’t actually do it to her. I just thought it’d be a funny Tweet. People think I met her and actually sang to her face. This is why I hate Twitter; I love it and I hate it at the same time. There should be a sarcasm button.”
Who would you absolutely freak out over if you met them? “I don’t know! I freaked out the most over Dick van Dyke and Jimmy Fallon. Oh, and the people from Game Of Thrones. I’m friends with Kit now, though.”
Are you a big Game Of Thrones fan? “Yes. I’m a huge nerd when it comes to zombies, dragons, and vampires.”
Because you’re a geeky vamp!
“Exactly. I’m a geeky vamp!”
Vampire Academy is in theaters February 7.
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Photographed by Marcus Mam