Interview: Kaitlin Olson

kaitlin olson interview sunny philadelphia

By Amrie Cunningham [My Take on TV]

“If hate laughing, you’re not going to like IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA”

What do you get when you combine three crazy self-absorbed bar owners, their insecure but self-absorbed bartender, and a man that they call Frank? You get the funniest thing on TV – It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Coming back for its third season on F/X [Thursday September 13 at 10PM], they promise to bring you joy with their complete inability to care for others. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the first batch of episodes this season, and there are just a few things you need to know, which will sound insane out of context, and be even more insane when you watch – shoe polish is better than bronzer for making a baby look Latino, everyone needs a Green Monster suit, Stephen Collins is the man (would I, a devout 7th Heaven shunner ever have said that before this show?), and never trust sweaty friends in a hostage situation.

I had the incredible good fortune of getting to spend some time shooting the breeze with my favorite cast member (though out of the 5 main characters, it’s a hard one to call – I love them all so much), Kaitlin Olson, who plays Deandra “Sweet Dee” Reynolds. She is funny, relatable, and full of knowledge on Juicers, and the pains involved in too much vegetable juice.

Amrie: I was actually just telling someone a few days ago how you’re one of my favorite people on TV, and now I’m getting the opportunity to talk to you so this is thrilling.
Thank you so much, I appreciate that!

Not a problem! First off, Dee is not the most likeable character in the world, but she’s my favorite character, of all things.
I know what that says about you…

I’m not sure I should know what that says about me…

[Kaitlin laughs]

What about her on paper made you want to be this character?
I really like her insecurity. She definitely is despicable, you can’t really argue with that. I don’t think she’s hate-able because it all stems from her raging insecurity and they’re so mean to her. I think there is just something really funny about that to me.

What is it like on the set? Is it like the same, crazy all the time?
You know what? It’s the most fun set I’ve ever worked on by far because we’re just making each other laugh all the time. Although it is scripted and there’s scripts are really wonderful, we play around a lot with the dialog, so we’re just constantly trying to make each other laugh and it makes everything go by so quickly and you know I get to hang out with my best friends all day. It’s pretty great. I feel very very fortunate to have stumbled into this job.

I’m one of those people who was a little scared of Danny Devito joining the cast, but I’ve even forgotten there were times when he wasn’t in it. He adds so much – what’s it like working with him?
Doesn’t he just fit in perfectly well? He does such a great job of developing his character to make it pretty much just an older version of our characters. I can’t imagine it without him anymore. We definitely had the same hesitations and I know a lot of our fans who were fans from the first episode had the same hesitations, but he is such a wonderful person to work with. He is so talented. I wish that people could see what is on the page for him, you know, to read it first, before you see him act it out, because he just adds so many layers to it. He’s constantly making me laugh. He has such a strong desire to come in and play and improvise and that makes a really big difference when you’re working with somebody. It seems like he really wants to be there, and that’s the only way that our show works.

How do you prepare to play a character like Deandra?
Drink a lot of beer…

I actually wrote down “is there a lot of drinking involved?” on my list of questions! Ha!
[laughs] Oh we drink so much fake beer. I feel really bloated by the end of the day a lot.

How much time do you spend filming in Philadelphia?
This year, we were there for 2 weeks. We try to do all of our external shots in Philadelphia. It’s important to us that a big chunk of the show gets shot there because we really love the feel of that city and how that integrates into the show. It’s an important part of the show to have that sort of working class feel to it.

I’m in a suburb of Philly, so it’s so true to what I see when I’m there.
Yeah, I mean, and it’s fun, too. It’s fun to leave LA and go shoot there. When we’re in LA, we’re having to make sure we’re avoiding all palm trees. And the people are awesome. We’ve had such a great response from the people of Philadelphia, who, God knows why they’re happy that we’re representing their city in some way.

Why do you think audiences find ways to relate to these characters?
I think that there isn’t really a sense of meanness because the characters aren’t trying to be mean. They’re just so stupid and self-involved that they end up making ridiculous decisions, but they’re never out to hurt anybody else. When we’re saying ridiculous things, it’s not because we believe that, it’s because we’re making fun of these people. That’s fun to watch, for one, and the other thing is I think people are starting to get bored with some of the formulaic sitcom characters. We’re not trying to be likeable, and they think that because we’re not trying to be hate-able, you let yourself be okay with it.

You guys can get away with making fun of so many things. I got to see the first 5 episodes; there are just so many crazy things. The gang finds a dumpster baby? No one else can make that funny.
[laughs again] Well, look, it wouldn’t be funny if the baby was dead. The baby’s alive, and we take care of it. We’re commenting on things that are going on in the world, but we’re finding a funny spin on it. Charlie recently picked up this motto of “if it’s funny, it’s appropriate; if it’s not funny, then it’s not appropriate”. I kind of find that to be true. We’re not trying to be mean. We’re trying to comment on the fact that there are people like that, and we’re making fun of those people. We’re not making fun of people thrwing their babies away. We’re making fun of people who would choose to deal with that in the way that our characters do.

What is your favorite episode?
I had a lot of fun with Dennis and Dee go on Welfare, because playing a cracked out drug addict with Glenn Howerton was very, very fun.

My favorite scene is the front porch rapping [Glenn and Kaitlin perform “Just a Friend” by Biz Markie].
[here’s where Dee’s fabulous sarcasm shines through Kaitlin’s persona] That was fun too. Ya know what was not fun? Being in those jeans and that long black shirt in Philadelphia in the hundred degree weather. I was sweating like a pig.

What can you tell viewers about the upcoming season?
We try out for the Philadelphia Eagles because of the movie Invincible. They say that girls can’t play football, the boys tell me that, so I dress up like a guy to try and get a position on the team. I get set on fire, yeah, twice….like you said, we find the baby in the dumpster. Stuff like that, ha.

Normal stuff.
Good wholesome humor.

What would you say to someone that hasn’t watched it, but wants to watch it this season?
If you’re looking for something to be offended by, that’s probably what you’ll find. If you are bored with the way that network sitcoms have been going for the last I’d say 10 years, then you’ll probably like it because it’s different and it pushes the envelope and it’s just funny. If you hate laughing, then you’re not going to like it.

Besides IASIP, what else do you have coming up? Are you coming back to Season 2 of The Riches?
You know, we’re still in talks about it. I would love to do that. That’s a really fun character to play. Minnie driver and Eddie Izzard are awesome people to work with so I would love to do a few more episodes of that.

Do you have anything else coming up?
I did one episode of Curb, so that’ll be airing somewhere towards the middle of the season. And just kind of keeping my fingers crossed that our show gets viewers and we get picked up for another season.

I just got Season 1 and 2 on DVD. My sister and I watched them in like a day and a half. I quote it all the time. People are sick of me, quite frankly.
Who cares about those people. Those people are lame.

Exactly! Who would you love to work with in the future?
I’m just a giant fan of Will Ferrell and Sasha Baron Cohen. They make me laugh so hard, I make hideous noises and that’s a good sign. I also love Michael Cera; I think that kid is hilarious. And Annette Bening. She’s one of my heroes. I think she’s amazing because she’s hysterically funny without trying too hard.

She can play the most dramatic characters, but then suddenly there’s the comedy.
She’s great. I love that she can just burst out crying and there’s something really funny about it, and also really sad.

What do you do in your downtime?
In my downtime….I play with my dog. I go to the movies. I live right at the beach, so I spend a lot of time on walks on the beach. Just stuff like that…I cook! I’m totally into cooking. I’m trying to teach myself how to cook. I just got a juicer, so I’ve been juicing like crazy. You have to be careful with vegetable juice because it’ll give you diarrhea.

That’s good to know [as we both continue laughing…]….Do you watch other shows on TV?
I do, I do. I’m still desperately missing AD. I love The Office. I still watch CYE. For some reason, I’m in love with Intervention on AE. It’s depressing. I think it makes me feel good about myself.

It’s been a pleasure to talk to you!
Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. That makes me so happy. I’m glad you’re enjoying it. And I think you’re going to like this season. It’s kind of more of the same, it’s just a little crazier.

The writers blow me away every week.
They blow me away too. I feel very fortunate to be in this position, that’s for sure.

Now is the time to get on the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia bandwagon – this show is not for the faint-hearted. It’s for people who love laughing, and enjoy finding the comedy in the craziest of things. Let us know what you think after watching the first two episodes – The Gang Finds a Dumpster Baby, and The Gang Gets Invincible – HYPERLINK “” or AIM mytakeontv.

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