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These days, danny DeVito — Taxi veteran, producer, director and New Jersey native — can be found on both the small and smaller screens: on FX’s It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia as the reckless Frank Reynolds and on YouTube in Girl Walks Into a Bar, touted as the first major motion picture made for the Internet, which he also produced. THR recently caught up with the Hollywood Walk of Fame honoree, 66, as he drove to downtown Los Angeles to shoot scenes for his second Internet film, Hotel Noir, with Carla Gugino and Rosario Dawson.
Are you having a good time doing a sitcom again?
It’s amazing fun. Those guys — Charlie Day, Glenn Howerton, Rob McElhenney and Kaitlin Olson — are some of the top people I’ve ever worked with. The great thing is having the actors who are also the producers and the editors and the writers right there on the stage with me. They’re very inventive.
Did you have any reservations about returning to television?
I told FX’s president, John Landgraf, a friend of mine who had worked with me at Jersey Television before we shuttered it, that the character had to be organic, it had to fit — I needed to be part of the gang. And that’s the way it has been for the past six years.
You fell into acting, didn’t you?
After I finished high school, my older sister offered me a job at her beauty parlor in New Jersey. She thought it would be a great idea for me to do women’s makeup in her shop. I went to New York and found a makeup teacher at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts who was willing to teach me, but she said I’d have to enroll to take lessons from her there. I became interested in the
acting classes and got bit by the bug.
Your big break came when director Milos Forman saw you in an off-Broadway production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
I became one of the only people who went from the stage production to the screen. That was a big boost-up for me.
You were friends with Michael Douglas, who produced Cuckoo’s Nest, even before that film.
We met in the mid-’60s. We had a lot in common: We were both very liberal; had the same taste in movies; we were into going to plays, meeting writers, hanging out and drinking — all the stuff you did as a New York actor.
You seem attracted to somewhat mean-spirited comedy.
Would you say that the Penguin (in Batman Returns) is mean-spirited? He’s just a misunderstood bird who needs a little more respect. Frank is certainly not mean-spirited. He’s just a guy who wants to have a lot of fun.
Of the characters you’ve portrayed, which are you most like?
At this moment, I’m really like Frank. I’ve been infected by the youth I work with. They’ve taken Danny and usurped him as a gentle human being. I’m now crude and rough around the edges. More importantly, like Frank, I don’t give a shit.
Congratulations on the Walk of Fame honor.
I’ve always felt a part of Hollywood, but this will really, no pun intended, cement my place in town.
WALK OF FAME CEREMONY
Thursday, Aug. 18
6906 Hollywood Blvd.
Guest speaker: FX president and GM John Landgraf
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