Ed O’Neill Took A Picture With A Fan Only To Later Realize That She Was Famous

Ed O’Neill is known for his role as Al Bundy in Married…with Children and more recently as Jay Pritchett in the sitcom Modern Family. With the fame Ed has accumulated through the years, you’d think he’s used to having fans come up to him, asking for pictures. The thing is, he usually keeps to himself.

However, one day, a fan came up to him at the airport asking for a photo. He agreed, having no idea that this wasn’t a typical fan. It wasn’t until the picture went viral that he learned the truth.

Ed O’Neill Had No Clue Who Asked Him For A Picture

Modern Family star Ed O’Neill was waiting for his flight in an airport lounge when a fan approached him, asking for a picture. Being in his position, it wasn’t an abnormal request, so he agreed. The excited fan quickly thanked him for the shot and left him alone.

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Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images
Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images

It wasn’t much later that the mystery fan posted the photo to social media. And, in typical social media fashion, the internet went wild about the mystery fan’s identity.

Ed’s Been In The Spotlight Since 1987

Ed O’Neill has graced the small screen since 1987, starring in the popular sitcom Married…with Children. So, it’s really no surprise that the mystery fan asked him for a photograph. During his time on the ’80s sitcom, critics highly praised him for his acting skills which they credited for the show’s success — it ran for 11 seasons!

Ed's Been In The Spotlight Since 1987
Jim Spellman/WireImage
Jim Spellman/WireImage

Little did Ed know that the mystery woman was also a star. And not just any star, but someone who is one of the biggest names in her field.

It’s Surprising That He Had No Clue Who She Was!

It doesn’t come as a shock that the mystery fan was starstruck, having run into Ed at the airport. His role as Al Bundy in Married…with Children did earn him two Golden Globe nominations, after all! The role also threw him straight into the limelight, giving him more television opportunities and even some in film.

It's Surprising That He Had No Clue Who She Was!
Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images
Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

Aside from Ed’s fame, it’s amazing that he did not recognize the woman who asked him for a picture. She has quite a popular face! Not to mention they’ve probably attended some of the same events.

From Sitcom Star To The Big Screen

Ed’s newly acquired fame from the Fox sitcom turned the heads of many producers and studios. All of a sudden, Ed was a highly desired actor and everyone wanted a piece of him! He went on to star in films such as The Bone Collector, Little Giants, and Dutch.

From Sitcom Star To The Big Screen
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

As such things go, the more Ed’s portfolio expanded, the more his public profile grew. He was introduced to a whole new world — that of an A-list celebrity.

A Family Man

Ed was married in 1986, but despite that, he and his wife waited a long 13 years to start a family. They agreed that it was best to focus on their marriage and Ed’s booming career before bringing children into the picture.

A Family Man
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images
Todd Williamson/Getty Images

Their first daughter was born in 1999 and their second came a few years later. Considering their daughters’ ages, they grew up knowing who this mystery person was! Boy was their dad in for a treat.

He Was Offered The Role Of Jay Pritchett

After several successful movies, Ed decided he wanted to go back to television. So, when he was offered the role of Jay Pritchett for a new ABC Network sitcom in 2009, he couldn’t say no. The role was going to be for one of the main characters in a new show called Modern Family.

He Was Offered The Role Of Jay Pritchett
ABC
ABC

The show found huge success and was renewed for a number of seasons. Fans and critics both couldn’t get enough of the show!

Ed Was Becoming Popular With The Younger Generation

With Ed becoming a household name with the younger generation, he was getting used to being asked for autographs and pictures. Something that wasn’t so popular with his older fans.

Ed Was Becoming Popular With The Younger Generation
Michael Tran/FilmMagic
Michael Tran/FilmMagic

So, when the young mystery woman came up to him at the airport, he didn’t think twice. He thought it was just a regular fan asking for a picture so they could post it to social media. No harm, no foul! That’s where Ed was wrong.

“Ed O’Neill Does Not Like Taking Photos With Fans”

It’s public knowledge that Ed prefers to keep his private life to himself. The actor doesn’t even have a Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, which is very odd for a prominent actor. No matter the age, the majority of “the Hollywood elite” are on social media of some kind.

ROCK4EB!
Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for EB
Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for EB

In 2012, a YouTube video was posted titled “Ed O’Neill Does Not Like Taking Photos With Fans.” The grainy video shows Ed walking away from adoring fans, not wanting to take pictures with them.

The Mystery Woman Has The Same Mentality

Ironically, the mystery fan who Ed took a picture with has the same mindset. She likes to keep her private life out of the public eye. Many of her fans know that she would prefer not to take photos, most likely hiding her face and shying away from the limelight instead.

Universal Studios Hollywood Hosts The Opening of
Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic
Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

It’s because of this that fans were surprised to see the two in a picture together. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons that the photo went viral!

She Called Ed “Mr. O’Neill”

Thankfully, it seems as though the mystery fan caught Ed on a good day because he was willing to pose for a photo (even though he doesn’t look overly pleased about it). It was also reported that their encounter was nothing less than pleasant and warm.

She Called Ed
Maury Phillips/WireImage
Maury Phillips/WireImage

The mystery woman even went as far as calling Ed “Mr. O’Neill.” Considering the fan’s identity, it’s clear that her southern upbringing was definitely being utilized. Talk about some good manners.

Ed Didn’t Look Like He Wanted To Be There

If anyone is curious as to what each of the people in the photo was thinking, all you have to do is look at their faces. The mystery fan is smiling so wide, unable to contain her excitement at meeting Ed O’Neill.

Ed Didn't Look Like He Wanted To Be There
Rich Polk/Getty Images for Global Green and EIN
Rich Polk/Getty Images for Global Green and EIN

While, on the other side of the coin, Ed looks like he would like to be anywhere but sitting on that chair. Hey, just because he said yes to the picture doesn’t mean he has to enjoy it!

The Picture Went Viral Almost Instantly

Considering Ed is one of her favorite actors, it’s no surprise that after taking the picture the fan immediately uploaded it to social media. Who wouldn’t? Almost instantly the photo was being shared, ultimately reaching many different media outlets.

The Picture Went Viral Almost Instantly
Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Turner
Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Turner

The comments on the photo ranged from where the two stars were, to the facial expressions of both people. Ed was not expecting that type of reaction from the internet community. Then again, he still didn’t know the name of the mystery fan.

Ed Had No Clue Who She Was

The text on the fan’s Twitter post read, “Fancy running into this guy! Such a sweetheart!!” Although the post reached thousands within minutes, Ed himself didn’t see it, due to his lack of social media. He didn’t even know the image went viral until he started the receive texts regarding the photo.

Ed Had No Clue Who She Was
JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images
JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images

Even with people telling him the name of the person, Ed was clueless. He really had no idea who the fan was! It took a call from Ed’s manager to explain her relevance that it finally clicked.

She Wasn’t A “Regular” Fan

It was lucky that Ed decided to take a photo that day. Otherwise, it’s likely that a news story would have been posted about how he was rude to another celebrity, even though he had no clue who it was at the time.

She Wasn't A
Jason Merritt/Getty Images
Jason Merritt/Getty Images

If it had been a “regular” fan, it wouldn’t have mattered to the press, but the mystery person was far from regular. Thankfully, he took the picture and didn’t have to deal with that public relations nightmare.

The Fan Has Been In The Spotlight For Years

It’s funny because the mystery woman’s face is usually highly recognizable. She’s been in the spotlight pretty much her entire life, starting as a child star and then having all of the tabloids have a field day with her teen and young adult life.

The Fan Has Been In The Spotlight For Years
Barry King/FilmMagic
Barry King/FilmMagic

She’s also been a regular on the red carpet and her music has been played on the radio since the 90s. with all of her media coverage, it’s amazing that Ed had no clue of her name.

Ellen Was Going To Get To The Bottom Of This

In 2016, Ed appeared on The Ellen Show to promote his upcoming movie Finding Dory, which he starred opposite the host, Ellen DeGeneres. The interview began with Ellen asking Ed about the movie and discussing how they both enjoyed doing the voiceover work for their characters — Ed played Hank the octopus.

Ellen Was Going To Get To The Bottom Of This
Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage
Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage

However, it’s Ellen, so of course, she had to ask Ed about the picture that was garnering so much attention. She wanted all of the juicy details that Ed couldn’t give her.

Ed’s A Bit Oblivious In All things

It shouldn’t surprise people that Ed wasn’t aware of his fan’s identity. As it turns out, he wasn’t aware of his role in Finding Dory, either! During the interview with Ellen, Ed confessed that when he started his voiceover work for Hank the octopus, he had no clue how big his role actually was.

Ed's A Bit Oblivious In All things
Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios
Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios

It wasn’t until he was brought into the studio month after month that he finally realized his character was very important. That confession got him many laughs from the audience and even some from Ellen.

Ellen Didn’t Understand How Ed Didn’t Know The Fan

After Ellen and Ed thoroughly discussed their upcoming film, the conversation shifted to the elephant in the room, the mystery fan. Ellen wanted to know the story behind the picture, not to mention how Ed had no clue who it was.

Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney
Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney

It was funny to Ellen because the woman happens to be a regular on her talk show and they’ve been involved in many projects together. It was strange to her that Ed had no idea who it was!

The Fan Was Very Polite

Ed told Ellen that “I was flying alone to Hawaii. I was waiting for my flight to board, they told me the flight was boarding and I picked up — that’s a little Modern Family hat. I saw a woman approaching me so I just flopped it on, you know, I was leaving.”

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Photo by Amanda Edwards/WireImage
Photo by Amanda Edwards/WireImage

She came up and said, “Oh, Mr. O’Neill, I love Modern Family, and you’re my favorite on the show.” after an encounter like that, how could he refuse.

He Didn’t Think Twice About The Picture

Ed continued, saying that the fan went on to ask for the picture, “[She said] ‘Could you please, I know you’re in a hurry…’ [she] couldn’t have been nicer, so I said, ‘Sure, fine, you know, OK.’ So she sat there and we took it and I said, ‘Have a nice trip, I’m going,’ and I left.”

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Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

He then got onto his flight and didn’t think twice about the encounter. The thing is, he wasn’t expecting to be bombarded with text messages when he landed.

The Mystery Woman Is A Household Name

The main person trying to reach Ed was his manager. The text he sent Ed read “What is this? It’s 53,000 likes.” The only problem was that Ed had no idea what it was about! Or that the lady he posed with was an international pop superstar who was wildly successful.

The Mystery Woman Is A Household Name
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Even though the pop singer is much younger then Ed, she has a huge presence in both the United States and around the world. She’s a household name with many young girls looking up to her.

His Daughter Was Not Happy!

One person that was frustrated with Ed over his lack of knowledge was none other than his daughter! She grew up listening to the pop star and was extremely jealous that her father met her.

His Daughter Was Not Happy!
Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images
Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images

The thing is that once she found out that her father had no idea who was posing in the picture with him, she sent Ed a text. He recalls that the message jokingly called him a ‘moron.’ We’re not entirely sure she was joking, Ed.

He Called The Mystery Woman’s Manager

Once everyone explained to Ed who the woman in the picture was, he found it laughable and slightly embarrassing that he didn’t recognize her. Scratch that, he had no clue what she looked like even though he recognized the name!

He Called The Mystery Woman's Manager (Cause She Has One!)
Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Ed decided to call her manager, profusely apologizing for his mistake in not recognizing one of the most famous women in the world. He clearly needs to brush up on his pop culture trivia as the woman is a superstar!

Oops…He Did It!

The mystery fan was none other than international pop princess Britney Spears. The singer was taking a break from her Vegas residency schedule, heading on vacation with her family when she spotted Ed in the airport.

Oops...He Did It!
Mike Windle/Getty Images for iHeartMedia
Mike Windle/Getty Images for iHeartMedia

Spears is known to live a private life, which is why she didn’t have an entourage of people at the airport. A thing that probably threw Ed off of her celebrity. Perhaps if she had bodyguards or paparazzi surrounding her, Ed would have figured out who she was sooner!

Britney’s Polite Approach At The Airport Now Made Sense

Britney approached Ed with such politeness that it made sense that she was someone who knew what it was like to be asked for pictures and autographs. Pretty much just constantly being hounded by a fan base.

britney spears ed oneill
Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic
Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

The singer is someone who knows what it’s like to be overwhelmed by other people. She even had a breakdown in 2007 from the pressure that came with being under a microscope at all times. She knew to treat Ed like a human and not a celebrity.

“Do I Look Like I’m Sitting With Britney Spears?”

Ellen noted Ed’s facial expression in the picture, saying, “you don’t seem thrilled.” The funny thing is that he wasn’t! When the audience started the laugh, Ed admitted he had no clue who she was.

Denise Truscello/WireImage
Denise Truscello/WireImage

She went on to ask Ed if he had any clue who the lady was. His answer was priceless. Ed said, “Look at the look on my face, do I look like I’m sitting with Britney Spears?”

Britney’s Fans Were Asking Who Ed Was

The reason why the picture received so many likes in such a short amount of time is no doubt due to Britney’s fame and millions of followers. Ironically, because the singer’s fan base is pretty young, they had no clue who Ed O’Neill was!

GettyImages-1052494760
Denise Truscello/WireImage
Denise Truscello/WireImage

Many of the comments were asking the pop star who the man in the picture was, and not the other way around! It’s not every day that Britney Spears is excited to meet another celebrity.

#GetBritneyOnModernFamily

When the air was cleared, and everyone knew who everyone else was, many of the show’s fans were calling for Ms. Spears to make a guest appearance on Modern Family. In 2012, the tag #GetBritneyOnModernFamily went viral.

#GetBritneyOnModernFamily
Ethan Miller/Getty Images for ABC
Ethan Miller/Getty Images for ABC

It sounds like the pop princess was interested in being on the show long before the photo was taken in the airport! Unfortunately, the show came to an end in 2019, with Britney never making her guest appearance.

Britney Has Been On A Few TV Shows

Even though she didn’t make it on Modern Family, Britney is no stranger to guest starring on some pretty big-name television shows. She’s been on How I Met Your Mother, Will & Grace, Glee, and The Simpsons. The pop singer even starred in a few films.

Britney Has Been On A Few TV Shows
Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

Her performances were always well received from her co-stars and producers of each respective show. And having the familiar face definitely made viewers happy. We wish that the Modern Family producers had jumped on a chance to hire her sooner!

Fingers Crossed The Two Meet Again!

Britney never commented on Ed’s admission of not knowing who she is, but hopefully, the two have something to talk about the next time they meet. It is Hollywood, after all, and they’re bound to cross paths again.

Thankfully, Ed handled the situation with grace, even going the extra mile to apologize to Britney. The funny thing is that not being recognized was probably a breath of fresh air for the pop princess. We look forward to seeing a picture from their next encounter!