Ed O'Neill narrates 'Delicious Peace Grows in a Ugandan Coffee Bean''Modern Family' star Ed O'Neill is a TV sitcom dad par excellence, but he may have a new side career as a documentary voiceover narrator (watch your back, Morgan Freeman!), thanks in part to his morning coffee habit.

Aptly enough, his Los Angeles kaffeeklatsch included producer Ellen Friedland, who needed a narrator for her documentary 'Delicious Peace Grows in a Ugandan Coffee Bean.' O'Neill was inspired by the tale behind the movie -- director Curt Fissel's film the stirring story of a community of Muslim, Christian and Jewish coffee farmers in Uganda who've set aside the region's violent religious tensions to form a cooperative (called Mirembe Kawomera, which means "Delicious Peace") that has lifted them out of poverty. The group's leader, the charismatic JJ Keki, a Grammy-nominated musician and father of 25 children, has toured the U.S. and inspired congregations of American churches, synagogues and mosques to work together in support of Keki's community by buying and selling his cooperative's fair-trade coffee.

O'Neill landed the gig narrating 'Delicious Peace,' which opens on June 4 at New York's IFC Center before traveling to film festivals across the country. It's his second documentary this year, after 'Youngstown: Still Standing,' a portrait of the Ohio steel town where the 'Married... With Children' actor was born and raised. He called Moviefone from his California home to speak about his big-screen moonlighting, the uplifting story behind 'Delicious Peace' and, of course, coffee. Ed O'Neill narrates 'Delicious Peace Grows in a Ugandan Coffee Bean''Modern Family' star Ed O'Neill is a TV sitcom dad par excellence, but he may have a new side career as a documentary voiceover narrator (watch your back, Morgan Freeman!), thanks in part to his morning coffee habit.

Aptly enough, his Los Angeles kaffeeklatsch included producer Ellen Friedland, who needed a narrator for her documentary 'Delicious Peace Grows in a Ugandan Coffee Bean.' O'Neill was inspired by the tale behind the movie -- director Curt Fissel's film the stirring story of a community of Muslim, Christian and Jewish coffee farmers in Uganda who've set aside the region's violent religious tensions to form a cooperative (called Mirembe Kawomera, which means "Delicious Peace") that has lifted them out of poverty. The group's leader, the charismatic JJ Keki, a Grammy-nominated musician and father of 25 children, has toured the U.S. and inspired congregations of American churches, synagogues and mosques to work together in support of Keki's community by buying and selling his cooperative's fair-trade coffee.

O'Neill landed the gig narrating 'Delicious Peace,' which opens today at New York's IFC Center before traveling to film festivals across the country. It's his second documentary this year, after 'Youngstown: Still Standing,' a portrait of the Ohio steel town where the 'Married... With Children' actor was born and raised. He called Moviefone from his California home to speak about his big-screen moonlighting, the uplifting story behind 'Delicious Peace' and, of course, coffee.

How did you become associated with 'Delicious Peace Grows in a Ugandan Coffee Bean?'
Ellen [Friedland] and I frequent the same coffee shop in Santa Monica, Peet's on Montana. There's a group that gets together most mornings that talks and drinks coffee, and I met her there at that table. Over the course of our conversations, she told me that she had been working on this documentary about the coffee growers in Uganda and the whole story of that. And I'd say, "Gee, that's fascinating." And when I'd run into her, I'd ask her how it was going, and she'd update me.

And then one day, she told me she was having a lot of trouble finding a narrator for the piece, that they'd gone out to various actors who, for whatever reason, couldn't do it. I felt like, "Jeez, I don't want to put her on the spot,"' but I said, "Look, if you can't find anybody, I'm willing to do it. I don't know if your producers think I'm the right sensibility for it. No hard feelings if they say no and go another way, say, a woman or a black actor. But I'm available if you're stuck."

Trailer for 'Delicious Peace Grows in a Ugandan Coffee Bean


What appealed to you about the film?
Obviously, I thought it was a worthwhile project. It's beautifully shot. I like the farmers. The one guy who bought the coffee [Paul Katzeff of Thanksgiving Coffee, the fair-trade importer who buys all of the collective's crop] was quite moving, I thought. And it's not too long. [The film runs 40 minutes.]

JJ Keki in 'Delicious Peace Grows in a Ugandan Coffee Bean'And JJ Keki, who founded the cooperative, is certainly an inspiring figure.

The guy had 25 kids, and it was a very poor farming area, and AIDS had ravaged so many of the parents. But what a great story of survival. And they've come up with a way of making money to feed their families and, at the same time, out of necessity of joining together to get buyers, this peace process has begun. Usually, I think that's not the way things work in the world. I said to Ellen, "It's too bad they can't do something in Israel and Palestine that would be a necessity where the two would have to come together." But it's a happy accident, the fact that the Muslims, Christians and Jews in that area are dependent upon selling this coffee, and they have to find a way to get along. And that can always lead to a better life for everybody. You know, Northern Ireland ... how about Guinness or something. Though they've probably already tried that.

How much work was involved for you in recording the narration?
We did it in a couple of hours. It was pretty tricky, by the way. There was a lot of verbiage. It was a real mouthful. But I really enjoyed doing it.

Is this your first documentary?
I participated in a documentary about my hometown called 'Youngstown: Still Standing' about Youngstown, Ohio, about the effects of the closings of the steel mills and now it's in the Rust Belt, and that sort of thing. I did participate in that for a couple friends of mine who produced it, and that was also recent. So I've done two documentaries.

Will documentary narration be a new career avenue for you?
No, no, no. I don't think so. I did the thing for Ellen as a friend and because I thought it was a worthwhile project. And I did 'Youngstown' because I was born and raised there, and I also thought that was a worthwhile project. It's a luxury to be able to do those things when you have the time. And I enjoy it.

Did 'Delicious Peace' give you new appreciation for frequent documentary voiceover artists like Morgan Freeman?
I think they actually went to Morgan Freeman to do this, and he just couldn't squeeze it in. And I think they went to Forest Whitaker, and I think he also was committed to something that conflicted.

Yes, it's very tricky stuff to do that narration. I always did have a lot of respect for people who can do that well.

'Delicious Peace Grows in a Ugandan Coffee Bean'
Have you tasted the Mirembe Kawomera cooperative's coffee?

No, and I actually just got some. I've been remiss because I usually go out in the morning for coffee. I don't make coffee. I have a machine, but I just haven't made it yet. I will do it, I just have it in the freezer. I'm not a coffee expert. I put cream and sugar in it, so it all tastes the same to me.

Ed O'Neill discusses the 'Modern Family' gay kiss controversy at PopEater. Also, O'Neill talks about 'Modern Family' and 'Married... With Children,' at TV Squad.

•Follow Gary Susman on Twitter@garysusman.