As glamorous as Sofia Vergara's recent roles have been -- as Ed O'Neill's sassy on-screen wife Gloria on ABC's "Modern Family" and as Odile, a cosmetics executive in "The Smurfs" (not to mention her lady villain role in this week's "Three Stooges") -- we mustn't forget that the Colombian beauty had a very unglamorous introduction to Hollywood nearly a decade ago.
Before winning Emmy nominations, cosmetic contracts and national acclaim for her work on America's favorite comedy, Sofia Vergara was getting her toes sucked by Stanley Tucci. But let's start at the beginning.
The thickly accented actress, born in Barranquilla, Colombia, was discovered by a photographer when she was walking on a beach. By the age of 20, Vergara had appeared in a Pepsi commercial and was working as a runway and television model. Modeling transitioned into hosting work (Vergara co-hosted two Univisión series in the '90s), and by 2002, the model-turned-actress had moved to Hollywood to make her U.S. debut.
After a one-episode stint on "Baywatch," the then 30-year-old won her first U.S. feature role in "Big Trouble," a 2002 ensemble comedy you probably don't remember starring Tim Arnold, Rene Russo, Stanley Tucci, Zooey Deschanel, Johnny Knoxville and more. Vergara plays the Mexican housemaid of Russo and Tucci's characters; she falls in love with a homeless man (Jason Lee) whom she believes to be Jesus. (Relatable!) Though she lusts after a beatific bum, it's Tucci's character who lusts after Vergara -- a torturous arc that culminates in this unsettling toe-sucking scene.
Don't feel bad for Vergara, though -- there are far less accomplished actors who could have been sucking her toes. And by 2004, the bombshell was getting her slow-pan close-up in "Soul Plane." By 2009, Vergara was starring on an Emmy-winning series, one in which she does not have to suck on any toes.
Originally published July 26, 2011.