I am a huge fan of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, but I may actually be a bigger fan of the cast of It’s Always Sunny. I’d heard most of them on podcasts before, and every single one of them comes off as an insanely good person, in spite of the characters they play on their sitcom, which kicks off its 14th season later this month. The one cast member I had not heard on a podcast yet, however, was Charlie Day, who appeared on Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert this week and proved himself to be as delightful and good as the rest of the cast. It’s worth a listen, but here are 15 things I learned about Charlie Day and It’s Always Sunny from the episode.
— Charlie’s mother was a piano teacher and his father was a professor in music history. His parents and his sister all have PhDs in music. Charlie didn’t do particularly well in school, but because the rest of his family is so smart, they often tested him for learning disabilities. He was basically diagnosed with “lazy.” He does, however, play music and when he was around 18 or 19, he decided to act rather than go into a career in music.
— Day began his career doing dramatic plays along with Jimmi Simpson (who was his college roommate). He wasn’t initially considered a comedic actor. In fact, he auditioned for Eurotrip and “the feedback in the room was, ‘He’s really interesting, but he’s never going to make it in comedy.’” Ha!
— Day was very skeptical about the dance episode at the end of the 13th season of It’s Always Sunny (arguably the series’ best). “It wasn’t working for the longest time. Even in script form, it wasn’t working,” he told Shepard. Charlie and Rob often argue about scripts, including this one, and Day didn’t come around to what made it work until realizing it needed to be about Frank coming to terms with Mac’s sexuality.
— The writing process on Sunny works mostly like this: Rob and Charlie will work on a script, they’ll bring in the writers to help them on it, and then they will bring in Glenn to do a pass at the end. “He’ll be the first to tell you that he’s not a writer, but he is a great writer. He always has a perspective on it that either Rob or I have missed that makes the episode better.” When writing scripts, Rob and Charlie take turns typing, for the record.
— Charlie Day was with the Verizon guy when he got the Verizon deal. On the one hand, Charlie was like, “I wouldn’t want to be stuck as the Verizon guy,” but on the other hand, the Verizon guy “worked for like a week and made more money” than Day did writing and acting in 20 episodes of It’s Always Sunny.
— Charlie and Rob first met while auditioning for the same sitcom. Rob gave him a ride to the audition. Charlie also met Glenn on the audition circuit, he thinks maybe for Tuck Everlasting.
— Charlie, Rob, and Glenn essentially agreed to do Sunny for little to no pay in exchange for ownership rights, so the cast didn’t make that much money in the beginning, except that Charlie received checks from IFC because he was the voice on the channel, “so anytime you heard, ‘Coming up next on IFC,” that was Charlie Day. Mac hated it because he was still waiting tables and would come over to Charlie’s apartment and see the checks. (The pilot for Sunny was filmed in Charlie’s apartment). “Between commercials and the IFC checks, I was making money,” Day told Shepard.
— Talking about his last year, Charlie says that he did a commercial just for money that was really fun, but also, he did a movie “where I wasn’t thrilled with the script, but I was like, ‘I’ll just do this.’” (It was Pacific Rim.) He also did the Louis C.K. movie, which came “out during all his heat … obviously, that one turned out to be a disaster.” However, he met Edie Falco and John Malcovich on the movie, who agreed to do the movie that Charlie just wrote and directed, El Tonto, and their involvement allowed him to get other big cast members like Kate Beckinsale. In El Tonto, by the way, Charlie plays a deaf-mute, so it was difficult to get made because he is silent during the movie, and Day’s defining characteristic is his voice.
— “One of the things I’m most proud of the work I’ve done are the 150 stupid home movies I made with Jimmi Simpson in an apartment when we were roommates in New York City … I had so much fun, and running around with that guy and my friends is why Rob and Glenn came to me to make It’s Always Sunny.”
— Charlie didn’t have a computer until season 2 of It’s Always Sunny. He wrote the abortion clinic episode on a yellow legal pad in the first season.
— Charlie almost passed on Horrible Bosses to do 30 Minutes or Less, a role that eventually went to Jesse Eisenberg. He got lucky.
— Charlie doesn’t say it outright, but he implies that the reason they continue to do Sunny after 14 seasons is because they make a lot more money on it than on anything else they do because they have an ownership stake in it and complete creative control (also, they clearly still love doing it together, although Charlie says that he wishes he could just show up and act instead of writing now). Ultimately, the reason the show has lasted as long as it has is because “Rob and Glenn and Kaitlyn and Danny are really good people. We fight all the time, but it’s always about how to make the show better.”
— Moreover, Charlie says, “To this day, I’m more proud of this show than anything else I’ve ever done.”
— Charlie was asked to audition to play Charles Manson in Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, but he declined because “I don’t want to see myself as Charles Manson. That’s going to take me out of the movie.”
Bonus: Charlie and his wife, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, have been together for 18 years. She goes by Mary Elizabeth, and does not like to be referred to as just Mary.
Source: Armchair Expert
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