Danny DeVito (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia)

Danny DeVito: The Interview (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia)
Interesting Tidbits

Before they were famous, Danny DeVito was roommates with Michael Douglas.

Danny DeVito is best known for his role on the TV show “Taxi” as Louie De Palma or as The Penguin in the movie “Batman Returns.” He is also the co-founder of Jersey Films, which has produced several memorable movies such as “Pulp Fiction” and “Erin Brokovich.” Currently, he is starring on the hit show “Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia” as Frank Reynolds. The show is on its 7th season and is shown on FX every Thursday at 10pm. The show revolves around Paddy’s Pub, a bar that is owned and operated by Frank’s offspring and their friends, and deals with all the crude chaos and raunchy craziness the group manages to get into. Shakefire had the honor of chatting with Danny DeVito about the show and the mad world that he calls his mind...

SHAKEFIRE: Good morning Mr. DeVito! Let me start by saying that I am a huge fan of the show and I think it is hilarious.
DANNY DEVITO: Thank you! Thank you! That means a lot.

: I know a lot people wouldn’t fit into the show because of the crude humor and the dynamics of the group, but, if you could pick anybody, who would be your dream guest star?
DD: I think that deep down inside, all my friends that I have. Whether they’re people that I have worked with over the years or not, if they had time and if we had parts for them, they’d all jump in, just for a guest spot. We’ve come close to landing Edward Norton on the show and several other people, but it was all just a matter of timing and things like that.

SF: That would have been an interesting episode. Just wondering, what attracted you to the role of “Frank Reynolds?”
DD: The fact that they wrote him so well had a lot to do with it. Six seasons ago they didn’t even have the role of “Frank.” They then asked me if I would join the show as the father of Dennis and Sweet Dee. I said I would only do it if the role felt organic to the show and if it was a character that I’d feel like I could really let my hair down, no pun intended, and allow myself to explore other avenues that were as raunchy or as ribald as I’ve done in the past, but with an FX kind of sensibility. I think they delivered on every front.

SF: Wow! So this was a win-win situation for everyone. How would you compare your experience working on “Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia” to your time on “Taxi?”
DD: It’s kind of like the TV show “Fringe.” It’s like another universe.  It’s the same thing, in a way, because we don’t have the live audience, but we do have really good writing. Also, from an actor’s point of view, we had a great cast on both. We have people who really care about each other, but it’s just an alternate universe. A big difference between the shows is the time periods. For instance, I remember, on “Taxi,” the standards and practices wouldn’t let us say “Holy sh**,” even though we did it anyways. These days, things are way different.

SF: Do you find that there is a personal catharsis in playing a character who was so free?
DD: Yes! Since I’ve taken this leap into this wonderful arena with Glenn, Charlie, Rob, and Kaitlin, I always live pretty free and always have a lot of fun, but this is really relaxing. No matter how much work there is and how much you’re doing in a short amount of time, because we only shoot for a certain amount of time and we have 13 episodes concentrated, it’s wonderful getting up out of bed in the morning, going down there, and having a ball. It’s also affected me a little bit. I did this thing where I grew my hair out for a year or more. My family thought I was little crazy because I was braiding it at the table and putting it in a bun when we’d go out. And now it’s all gone. I’ve taken it all off and I’m a blonde. HAHA!

SF: When do you feel like you are at your funniest and what, as an actor, helps get you to that place?
DD: I think it’s the freedom to allow yourself to let go. We have a script that is really well-written every week. They put it all together for us and then we’re allowed to venture off a little bit. It’s kind of like an improv, but it’s not. You don’t call it that. We just get into the situation and then everybody parries with each other. 

Sometimes some of the funniest things come out of this. One day, on the last show that was on, we were fighting over lines and Rob McElhenney looked at me and he was so mad. He said, “I ought to put my finger through your eye, you little ******!,” something like that. It was out of the blue and I just couldn’t help myself. Of course, I laughed about it, but it’s out of those situations comes the funniest situations, where they’re spontaneous. However, they do write some really great stuff, so it leads you in the path of hilarity.

SF: What does your family think about the show?
DD: My family loves the show! In fact, I found the show because John Landgraf sent the first few episodes, when they did them seven years ago, to Rhea, my wife. He wanted to get the take on it from our family. They were all sitting watching the show religiously, and I came in and I sat down and I got hooked on it the first season with the dead guy in the hospital. There were racial things in the bar. They were just done in a way that was fresh and I thought each one of the characters was funnier than the next. Later on, Landgraf sent me the note, or the email, that they were interested in talking to me about being on the show. My kids love the show now; although once in a while I do embarrass everybody by coming out of the couch naked. But it’s all in fun and they put the little Christmas wreath by my tushy.

SF: That is hilarious. Well, thank you for taking the time to chat with me today. Keep up the good work and I can’t wait to see the rest of season 7!
DD: Thank you very much and Goodbye!!

Paul Arca
Interview by Paul Arca
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