In 2020, Sofía Vergara ended her 11-year tenure as Gloria Delgado-Pritchett on ABC’s beloved sitcom Modern Family. Off-screen, Vergara’s life was nothing like Gloria’s. While her character often got into light-hearted tiffs with husband Jay (Ed O’Neil), in reality, Vergara fought for her own happy ending in ways that are hard to imagine, let alone live through. "I’m fearless," the actress told Parade in 2011. ""I don’t complain. Even when horrible things happen to me, I go on."
Her journey from being discovered on a beach in Colombia and offered an audition for a Pepsi commercial to becoming one of the most recognizable faces in Hollywood was a windy one. But live she did, and then she made her way to the top of the TV industry. Vergara was one of the highest-paid actresses in the business when Modern Family was on the air, but no one would blame Vergara if she wasn’t laughing her way to the bank.
One wrong move and her life could’ve gone very differently. At times, she was a step away from the world knowing her for worse reasons than her four Emmy nominations. Thankfully, she chose to become one of the funniest women in the world. Let’s take a look back at the tragic life of Sofía Vergara.
Sofía Vergara’s brother was killed in a kidnapping attempt
Sofía Vergara moved to the U.S. and soon landed a gig hosting a travel show called Fuera de Serie for Telemundo in 1995. Good fortune didn’t last long for the future A-lister, however, as her older brother Rafael was killed in the late 90s. In a 2011 feature with Parade, she called his death "a nightmare," adding in another unknown interview (via FOX News) that her family was "successful" — which made them targets for kidnapping in Colombia. Rafael went out without a bodyguard one day and was killed during a kidnapping attempt.
With the remainder of her family understandably devastated, Sofía brought "her mother; her sister, Veronica; and her younger brother, Julio" to Miami, where she was living at the time so they could stay with her. "Mother was like a zombie," she recalled to Parade. "I got a big house and we all lived together. I am so grateful to be in this country."
Sofía couldn’t escape the drama surrounding Rafael’s death even years later. In 2013, a National Enquirer report claimed that the investigation into Rafael’s death was being reopened after new witnesses were uncovered. The actress took to Twitter to express her feelings about the story, which was being shared widely on popular celebrity gossip blogs like Perez Hilton. "This is not news. This is desrespectfull [sic]. We know everything we need to know about my brother’s death," she declared.
Sofía Vergara is a cancer survivor
Sofía Vergara battled cancer at just 28 years old. While at an appointment for her son Manolo in 2000, a doctor convinced her to get her thyroid checked, and she was later diagnosed with thyroid cancer. She had surgery to remove her thyroid and developed hyperthyroidism. Vergara’s diagnosis is a surprise to many, but she speaks about it and has served as a spokesperson for campaigns to educate people about hyperthyroidism, like the "Follow The Script" campaign in 2013.
At an event to launch the campaign, Vergara told reporters that after her surgery, she had difficulty accepting the reality of her condition. "I got rid of the cancer and then for me it was, ‘Oh shoot, now I have to live with [hyperthyroidism] my whole life … I have to be on medication my whole life," she said, according to The Huffington Post.
Surviving cancer has taught Vergara to focus on balance in her life. She wants to be healthy while also indulging every so often. "You shouldn’t do too much of anything — that could mean working out, that could mean dieting like crazy," she said at the event. "You have to live your life and be happy because I think being happy and not stressing all the time also helps you … But it’s important to go to the doctor, to have your checkups, to workout, eat healthy, everything."
Sofía Vergara has been romantically linked to criminals
Sofía Vergara has a good relationship with her ex-husband and Manolo’s father, José González. She told Parade that he even stays at her house when he’s in the U.S., but she has another ex-lover who she’s probably not as close to — convicted felon, Chris Paciello.
Born Christian Ludwigsen, Paciello rose to fame as a businessman on the Miami club scene in the ’90s, owning clubs like Risk and Liquid. His famous friends included Madonna and Diddy, while he’s been romantically connected with models Daisy Fuentes and Niki Taylor. According to Vanity Fair, Vergara was his "most serious relationship." She was even at the courthouse a couple of weeks after he was arrested on charges racketeering felony murder and bank robbery, Vanity Fair reported.
The two broke up before he was convicted for his crimes, but Page Six reported that she was in the VIP section of his new club Story in 2013. Her then-fiancé, Nick Loeb, got into a fight with a table nearby, causing Vergara to get involved, as well. Horrifyingly enough, "her strapless dress was torn or pulled down in the melee, exposing her cleavage in front of other people," a witness recounted to the outlet.
Vergara has also been romantically linked with former Colombian drug lord Andres Lopéz Lopéz. "Sofía and I are great friends, she is a marvelous woman whom I love dearly," he told Latina in 2011 — meaning a romantic relationship was never officially confirmed.
Tom Cruise tried to lure Sofía Vergara into Scientology
According to a 2012 Vanity Fair exposé on Tom Cruise’s search for a wife as a Scientologist, he personally vetted Sofía Vergara for the role. As Andrew Morton, author of Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography, wrote, "There is no doubt [Cruise] was auditioning her for the part of his wife. If she had been interested, she would today be the next Mrs. Cruise." If that’s not all, part of that audition process also included meeting Cruise’s kids, Connor and Isabella, and visiting the Church Of Scientology’s Celebrity Center.
Ultimately, the relationship was doomed from the start because according to Morton, "she sincerely believed that she would be struck down by God and burn in hell if she joined [Scientology]." While Cruise and Vergara met at a party, Vanity Fair reported that some of the women vetted for Cruise were asked to audition for a Scientology training video during which they were asked specific questions about their opinion of the actor.
"It’s not like you only have to please your husband — you have to toe the line for all Scientology," Mark Hedley, an ex-Scientologist and former executive producer of Golden Era Productions, Scientology’s studio, told Vanity Fair. "You can’t do anything to displease Scientology, because Tom Cruise will freak out." Thankfully, Vergara exited the situation before it truly began. Cruise and The Church Of Scientology declined to comment for the Vanity Fair piece.
Sofía Vergara’s youngest brother battled addiction
Sofía Vergara moved some of her family to the United States from Colombia shortly after her brother Rafael’s death, including her younger brother Julio. "After Rafael died, Julio had a rough time," Sofía told Parade in 2011, adding, "They were very close." She said that Julio went to college before he was ready, and instead of focusing on his studies his addiction to alcohol and drugs began. "He started with alcohol there, then pot, on to cocaine, to crack."
Sofía opened up to the outlet about how heartbreaking it is to watch a loved one become an addict. "Now he’s like another person. To see somebody dying over 10 years, little by little, that’s the worst punishment."
The Parade profile states that Sofía was planning on sending Julio back to Columbia to get help, but a month later, Radar Online reported that he was deported. An ICE official told the site, "an immigration judge determined that he was no longer eligible to remain in the U.S." because of his extensive list of convictions.
Sofía Vergara’s rise to stardom wasn’t easy
Though Sofía Vergara’s fame might seem like it came quickly because of the instant success of Modern Family — it didn’t. The Colombian accent that is part of her charm is also a bit of a hindrance to her for a specific reason. She told The Hollywood Reporter in 2010, "You can’t compare the opportunities you get to an American-accented actress. When they get 10 scripts a week, I get two a month." She said that when she began acting, she hired a coach to try and help her get rid of her accent. "But my auditions were getting worse because I was forgetting to act and focusing on the pronunciations."
Former ABC president Steve McPherson believed in her and kept her signed to her deal with the network even after two failed comedies — Hot Properties in 2005 and Knights Of Prosperity in 2007. McPherson’s loyalty to Vergara resulted in Modern Family co-creators Chris Lloyd and Steve Levitan writing a role specifically for Vergara, she told The Hollywood Reporter. No one else ever attempted to be Gloria (as if they could).
During her interview with the outlet, Vergara admitted that while being an immigrant is "very hard," she’s grateful for all of the opportunities she’s found in the U.S. "From my experience, it’s a country that has given me an opportunity to raise my family, to work and make money."
Sofía Vergara is still fighting with an ex over embryos
Sofía Vergara has been romantically linked to some potentially dangerous men, but her biggest battle to date is with businessman and ex-fiancé Nick Loeb. As of a January 2020 report from The Blast, Vergara and Loeb are still in a legal dispute over embryos the couple froze in 2013 while they were still together.
According to a 2018 report by USA Today, the battle began when Loeb sued Vergara for custody of the embryos in 2014, with the reported intention of implanting them in another woman. Loeb initially filed the suit in California and then dropped it so he could establish residence and a trust for the embryos in the "more pro-life" state of Louisiana.
The exes have traded lawsuits related to the embryos — reportedly named Emma and Isabella — back and forth for years. Vergara was ordered to pay some of Loeb’s legal fees in October 2019. According to court documents obtained by The Blast in 2020, Vergara has most recently filed papers to demand that Loeb sits for a deposition related to the embryos in the state of California.
Sofía Vergara is married to a werewolf
Sofía Vergara vowed to live happily ever after with a werewolf in 2015 when she married fellow actor Joe Manganiello. Of course, Manganiello is well-known for playing man-wolf Alcide Herveaux on the popular HBO drama True Blood.
Manganiello and Vergara met at a White House Correspondents Dinner in 2014, where they were both guests. "I just could not take my eyes off of her," Manganiello said on The Jess Cagle Show on SiriusXM. Vergara was publicly engaged to Nick Loeb at the time, but when Manganiello learned that relationship ended, he asked her Modern Family co-star Jesse Tyler Ferguson for her number. Manganiello flew out to New Orleans, where she was on location for a movie and took her out on a date.
The rest is history, but Vergara told Vanity Fair in 2015 that she was initially hesitant to let Tyler Ferguson give Manganiello her number. "I’m like, Jesse, no, he’s too handsome." Of course, she has no regrets. "There’s nothing about him I’d change other than the fact that he’s four years younger than me." Even though her son Manolo is an adult and she’s fighting the aforementioned embryo battle with Loeb, she told the magazine, "Joe wants babies and if it’s going to make him super-happy," she’d consider having another one.