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Always Sunny creators turned down Danny DeVito at first, here’s why

Rob McElhenney says that he and Glenn Howerton initially rejected the idea of Danny DeVito joining Always Sunny, as they thought he'd ruin the chemistry.

Danny DeVito in Always Sunny

It’s hard to imagine the hugely popular and staggeringly long-running sitcom It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia without its small but mighty not-so-secret weapon; Danny DeVito. But Rob McElhenney, who co-created the show with Glenn Howerton, says that they resisted a big movie star coming into the comedy series at first.

Speaking to Stephen Colbert, McElhenney said that Always Sunny was not an instant success; “The first year, we made seven episodes, and they aired the show on Wednesday nights around 10:30pm on FX, which was a new channel at the time. They had no other comedies, no other lead-ins.”

The network was not happy with the response to the pilot, and they wanted to bring a ‘big-name’ actor in. “We got a call the next day after the first airing…and the President of the network, John Landgraf, said; ‘nobody watched the show…we want to add an actor that has a little cache, someone who can bring some exposure to the show.’ And he suggested Danny DeVito.”

McElhenney says that they initially rejected the idea of brining DeVito onboard; “We said no. I said no thank you. We don’t want Danny DeVito… It’s nothing personal against Danny DeVito. I grew up watching Danny – he’s a legend, he’s incredibly funny and we love him. We thought we had something really special, and we really thought that maybe bringing a movie star on would ruin the chemistry.”

McElhenney had a quick change of heart though; “And [Landgraf] was like, ‘okay, well, then we’re going to cancel the show.’ And I said, ‘Get me Danny DeVito! As quickly as possible!'” Season 15 of Always Sunny aired in December 2021, and we currently have no word on when Season 16 may be released. McElhenney has recently said that they are in the middle of writing it, and that filming may begin in the next few months.

McElhenney is a very busy being the co-owner of Wrexham football club with Ryan Reynolds, and making a documentary series about it called Welcome to Wrexham.

If you’re a fan of Danny DeVito classics such as Romancing the Stone, Ruthless People, and Twins – check out our guide to the best 80s movies.