Danny DeVito on Drunken Interviews, Not Lusting Over His Daughters, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

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Photo: Patrick McElhenney / FX

So far this season (their fifth), the scheming, amoral, possibly mentally challenged gang in It’s Always Sunning in Philadelphia has committed the following acts: Sold space in Sweet Dee's womb, tried to flip a house with the previous owners still in it, demanded a refund on a half-eaten pear, fired each other, evicted each other, printed their own currency, propositioned a widow at her husband’s funeral, and blithely watched an attempt by Frank — the group’s father figure, benefactor, and eager cohort, played by Danny DeVito — to hang himself. Is it any wonder it’s one of our favorite shows? We spoke with DeVito about the live tour of last season’s episode “The Nightman Cometh,” why he always seems drunk in interviews, and finally baring it all on television.

Why did you sign up for your role on It's Always Sunny in the first place?
First of all, I signed up because it was a great job, because I’m an actor. I like to take chances. And it was, I thought, this cool chance to be with all these energetic young folks. I mean, they’re half my age, these guys. I don’t want to sound like a vampire or anything, but I do feed on their kind of enthusiasm and energy, and what that does is it revitalizes mine. So I try to keep up with them, and next thing you know, I’m coming up with stuff that I pull out of left field. Every morning I get up and I can’t wait to go to work. I get out of bed early. It’s like farmers’ hours. I get up at six o’clock in the morning.

My friend described the show to me as about being about the most reprehensible, amoral people on the planet. Do the characters have no morals?
I don't think anybody is hurting anybody in the show. I mean, every once in a while, you know, you gotta give a baby back. But we're not hurting the kid. It's not like they're not caring, loving human beings. Though we're cruel to Cricket. We blew his head off in a show. You know, you take it to the extreme. We are living in 20-and-almost-10. Things have changed since the delicate flowers of your friends grew up. You've got to look around the world and see what's going on. I think Mother Theresa would love our show.

Really?
Yeah, I just think that they are young people here who are exercising their freedom and their creativity and they're becoming one with the universe. We do help people.

What’s your favorite Frank moment in the upcoming season?
In one show, I bare everything. That's a really fun moment, because I'd never gotten to do that before in a movie or TV. I mean, part of my cheek has been out in a scene. This, I actually am naked. That was kind of fun because when I said I'd do it, I really forgot that it's at a party and there's going to be, like, 100 background actors there.

Do you relate to Frank?
You know, he's a lustful guy. He wants to always have a girlfriend. I relate to that. I love women. I mean, I'm married, but I used to get in all kinds of trouble. I love the summertime, when all the girls wear the little skimpy clothes, even my daughters. I mean, I'm not gonna lust after my daughters. I'm just saying there are women and there are men in the world, so, you know, get over it. People are going to look. You know, Frank loves being with young people. And I just love that. And it’s not a sexual thing. It’s just, like, an energy thing.

Do you spend a lot of time with the cast?
No, the cast and I don’t hang out too much on the outside. We do go to events, and sometimes we’ll get together and have a night of debauchery and drink everything there is in sight, and play the piano and listen to music and take pictures of each other.

What’s the story with that interview you did on the set when everyone said you were drunk on a morning show ... again?
Well, I WAS drinking that morning. I was drinking fake beer. We’d gotten up really early and I was acting really drunk. We were on a street in Philadelphia, and a woman who I had had an interview with before came over and wanted to do an interview with me. I walked over in character, and I was guzzling — it was water basically, and suds, sudsy water. It was really ridiculous. She made a comment and I made a couple of snide comments and people said I was drunk on her show. I was really not. But I let it go. I like that stuff. I think it’s good to churn it up and provoke.

Yeah, I saw the interview. It was hilarious.
Yeah, she said to me, “You know, there’s not that many men I can look down on.” She made a short joke. And I said, “How about I crawl up that short skirt of yours?” And I know she just had a baby, so I did the mime of, like, the baby’s head coming out of the vagina with the legs in the air. I thought the interview was good, but I got a lot of flack over it.

Wasn't your daughter Lucy on It’s Always Sunny?
Yeah, she played a waitress.

And you hit on her.
I didn’t really hit on her. I kind of ogled her. Okay, I hit on her. All right.