After more than 50 years in show business, Danny DeVito has compiled a long and diverse résumé, one that strikes a chord with every generation. The Emmy winner’s work on the FXX comedy (streaming the next day on FX on Hulu) embraces that.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia has been renewed through Season 18, making it the longest running scripted comedy in TV history. Wow and how?
Little by little it just took off and lit up. First it was all guys that liked the show, then all the women, then it was college students and now — it’s really crazy but I’ve met 10-year-olds who watch this show. They have very liberal parents obviously.
You’ve played so many memorable characters. Which one brings you the most recognition?
It’s a mixture. Right now, a little kid will go “Oh, Mr. Wormwood.” [Matilda]. Another time it’s “Frank” [from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia]. A lot of people just say, “Hey, Louie” [Taxi], or I get a lot of “Danny”—a lot of people like Twins, they like Arnold, so they go into that. Or Romancing the Stone, that’s a big one. They love Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner.
Speaking of Michael Douglas, you and he were roommates way back when. What was that like?
It was a wild experience. It was in the ’60s. We became friends up in Waterford [Connecticut] at the Eugene O’Neill [Theater] Foundation. It’s a wonderful breeding ground for good writers, and we did a summer up there. Then we shared a place on 89th Street near Riverside in New York. It was one big room and a bathroom and a little kitchenette. He’s a good roommate. We did laundry together. It was fun.
This was in New Jersey, where you were born [Neptune] and raised [Asbury Park]. Are you still a Jersey boy?
The Jersey shore is a jewel of the Eastern seaboard. It was such a joy growing up there. I always feel like it’s inside of me. I do go back. I have friends that I went to kindergarten with still there. There’s a bond that you never lose with friends.
Those are some long friendships. Can you believe you’re 77?
It feels like I don’t know that I’m that. I know that you can look me up and I am the guy in the picture. You look at me in television and movies and you look at Louie and even Cuckoo’s Nest and you go, “What? Where is that guy?” But I feel the same way as I did when I was walking around as Martini or as Louie De Palma. Knock on wood. You have to live with that positive energy. If you can do that, no matter what, it helps and it feels good. If you have friends and family — because that’s who you have to rely on — you feed off of each other.
When you look back on all your characters, who is your favorite?
They’re all like your kids. Everyone from Martini to Sam in Ruthless People. Whoever it is, you think of them as your partners, your comrades. Which one did I have more fun making? Matilda, because I was surrounded by kids — crazy. I was the director. I was corralling them, I was doing a big wide shot up there with a bullhorn, going, “OK, now you’re going to be afraid.” “You in the third row, please take your finger out of your nose.” This is the greatest profession.
And you’re making another Twins with Arnold Schwarzenegger?
We’re going to make Triplets. We’re going to start in February. Tracy Morgan’s our new brother — it’s really exciting. I’m looking forward to working with Arnold again. We talk to each other a lot. He got me to smoke cigars. I don’t know if that’s a good thing. He should be getting me working out more.
You had some amazing costars, is there somebody else you would like to work with?
I’m looking forward to working with my daughter [Lucy, his eldest]. We’re going to do a play together. I’m looking forward to getting back on stage, to getting up there with an audience. [DeVito’s production company recently announced that the first season of their animated comedy, Little Demon, was picked up by FXX, and it includes characters voiced by DeVito and Lucy].
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