'Modern Family' Star Sarah Hyland Tackles Teen Motherhood In Familial Drama 'See You In Valhalla'
You know her as Haley Dunphy on Modern Family , but Sarah Hyland is taking on a different kind of familial narrative in the film she stars in and produced, See You in Valhalla. Written by her good friend Brent Tarnol and directed by his brother Jarret, the story surrounds Jo Burwood (Hyland), who is dealing with the death of her brother and must return home after four years to face her motley crew of a family: An estranged father, her two competitive brothers and various significant others. During her trip home, Jo is forced to reveal secrets from her past, deal with a clingy ex-boyfriend who won't let the past go, and deal with her brother's death head on. "My friend Brent Tarnol he's like a brother to me. He's my best guy friend for like six years," Hyland says. "He came to me a couple years ago, saying, 'Sometimes you talk about wanting to play someone your age, and I want to write something for you. And I want you to produce it with me.' And I was like, 'Hell yes, let's do this!'"
As a producer, Hyland found herself helping out with the script and had a heavy hand in the casting process. "We did straight offers since we had such a low budget," she says. "I'd been a fan of Steve Howey since he was on Reba. I had met Alex Frost years back reading with him for a movie. Odeya Rush I'd known since The Odd Life of Timothy Green, when she was just a little nugget. Everyone was really amazing. When you have good actors on a set the chemistry just comes."
And while Modern Family looks at life issues with gut-busting humor, Valhalla deals in drama and real, raw emotions when attempting to discuss issues like "gay marriage, teen pregnancy, loss of a mother, divorce." Hyland says, "I think people will be able to take a lesson from this and apply it to their own life."
From reality shows like Teen Mom to scripted dramas like Juno and Sugar & Spice, teen motherhood has had many iterations. And it gets another, perhaps more honest, depiction in Valhalla.
"I haven't dealt with teen motherhood personally, but I think this film shows the teen dad side of it, and we show Jo's side. We also show how it affects a family, and we talk about how a town can turn on a person for making one mistake. I don't want to shine a negative light on it at all. I want to show what could actually happen in a situation like this," Hyland assures.
See You in Valhalla is in theaters, on VOD and iTunes Friday, April 24th. Watch the trailer below:
Images: Tarnol Group Pictures