Nolan Gould is a doofus. At least on television, where he stars as Luke Dunphy on ABC’s award-winning Modern Family. Luke is boisterous, impulsive and impish—the exact opposite of Gould.
At 14, Gould has already graduated from high school and started college, and he plays everything from the banjo to the theremin (think early electronic sci-fi soundtracks). He’s an active member of Mensa and uses his intelligence to keep his hectic schedule and unusual life in order.
“It really comes down to what I want to come first, or what needs to come first, and putting that above everything else. Of course, work and school come first,” Gould says. “Sometimes I have to cut things out of my schedule because of work and school. Sometimes it takes sacrifice, but I usually get what I want and need to get done by prioritizing.”
Getting what he wants is one reason Gould graduated early. It means he can legally work longer hours without requiring a tutor on set. And like so many self-starters, Gould doesn’t punch a clock—he’s always working or learning. To stay focused on his long-term goals, Gould follows a simple mantra.
“It takes a lot of hard work, motivation and determination to pursue your education on your own. It’s the same thing with acting. If it’s your passion, you just have to keep going and doing the best you can and hope it works for you,” he says.
Gould has several projects in production, and he’ll continue his role on Modern Family. But he’s already looking ahead to life after the series ends.
“Even when I was 9, I was thinking about where I’d want to go to college,” Gould says. “I’ve always had my eyes on the Ivy League. I like to set high challenges and goals for myself. Sometimes I don’t reach them, but I like to shoot big.”
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