The run-in involved Ed O'Neill's daughters and one of the Modern Family actor's favorite Italian restaurants

By Jen Juneau
March 09, 2020 11:25 AM
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Ed O’Neill just scored some major points with his daughters.

The Modern Family actor, 73, stopped by The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Monday to talk about the upcoming series finale of his hit ABC sitcom, and shared a hilarious anecdote about how his daughter Sophia got to meet one of her celebrity crushes thanks to her dad. But the moment wasn’t without its behind-the-scenes drama.

“I said, ‘I want to go to Rao’s for Father’s Day.’ And so my older daughter [Sophia], when she found out, freaked out: ‘It’s too far to go — can’t it be in Santa Monica where we live?’ and that sort of thing. And I said, ‘No, I like Rao’s,’ ” O’Neill recalled of his love for the Hollywood, California-based Italian eatery.

“We had just ordered and she was on her phone,” said the actor, whose younger daughter Claire was also along for the evening (and in attendance on Ellen Monday, in the audience). “And then I saw her look up and all of a sudden it was like she was stricken. I mean, I really thought something was wrong with her. I said, ‘What’s the matter?’ and she said (whispering), ‘Shut up!’ ”

“And then I turned around and I saw a party coming in, and they sat near us. And it was Leo(nardo) DiCaprio,” O’Neill told Ellen DeGeneres. “Now, my daughter has had a crush on Leo since Romeo + Juliet, so she freaked out.”

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Ed O’Neill (L); Leonardo DiCaprio
Tommaso Boddi/FilmMagic; Michael Kovac/Getty
Ed O’Neill with daughters Sophia (L) and Claire in 2014
Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

O’Neill asked Sophia, ” ‘Do you want to meet him?’ ” — but his daughter wasn’t having it at first, telling him, ” ‘Oh, my God, you always do this! You say you know them and you don’t know him! You’ll make a fool of me.’ ” So the idea was tabled, until DiCaprio, 45, took it upon himself to talk to the family.

“All of a sudden, I heard, ‘Hey Ed, Happy Father’s Day.’ And I said, ‘Oh, thanks Leo! Is that your father?’ ‘Yeah’ — he was with his dad,” O’Neill said. “So I [told Sophia], ‘Stand up.’ So she, reluctantly, stood up.”

“Then [I] introduced [them],” continued the Married … with Children alum. “Then we were leaving, we walked by, Claire said, ‘I wanna meet him too!’ So she met him. And on the way out, [DiCaprio] said, ‘Sophia, it was really nice meeting you, sweetheart.’ ”

“Then we walked outside and she was, like, comatose,” O’Neill joked. “Then we got in the car and I said, ‘Rao’s really isn’t all that far to go.’ ”

Ed O’Neill (L) and Ellen DeGeneres
Michael Rozman/Warner Bros.

RELATED VIDEO: Happy Father’s Day to Some of Our Favorite Dads!

Sophia was in the audience on Ellen last April, when her dad revealed that he had to lock lips with his older daughter’s “young, handsome” celebrity crush, Dylan O’Brien, for a recent role in Jordan Peele‘s sci-fi anthology series Weird City.

“In the story, we kiss. And she had to witness this and was very upset that it was me and not her,” O’Neill shared as Sophia, who was visibly embarrassed, covered her face with her hands and giggled.

“Wow,” said DeGeneres, 62. “What are the odds of an actor you have a crush on [kissing] your dad?”

“Very unlikely,” said O’Neill, who quipped of O’Brien, 28, “Really good kisser.”

Modern Family‘s series finale airs in two parts April 8 on ABC.