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Contributed by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor for Radio Free Entertainment
July 25, 2009

Since its debut in 2005, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia has cultivated a loyal following with its signature brand of subversive, irreverent humor delivered by five of the most amoral characters to be found on television today. Following the exploits of a quintet of narcissistic sociopaths who run a bar in Philly, the brilliant comedy series is now enjoying its fifth season on FX.

We had the opportunity to speak to cast members Rob McElhenney, Glenn Howerton, and Kaitlin Olson at the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con, where the Sunny stars returned for a second year of greeting fans. With co-star and fellow series writer/producer Charlie Day noticeably absent from the trek to the annual convention, McElhenney and Howerton nonchalantly perpetuated the rumor that their friend had just died--but it was, you know, no big whoop.

In this interview, actress Kaitlin Olson--who plays the often abused, often put-upon "Sweet" Dee--talks about working on the show and previews some of the things that fans can look forward to in Season 5.

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MEDIA: Can we expect to see more of Dee's outrageous characters as she aspires to her goal of becoming an actress?

KAITLIN: I wish! I mean, those were good. Let's be honest: those were smart. It was just smart of her to think of such great characters. No, Dee doesn't do any characters this year, but she does get a part in an M. Night Shyamalan movie. [says with exaggerated attitude] So suck on that! That's pretty awesome.

So despite all her setbacks, she's still sticking with her dreams?

Absolutely! She's never going to give up on that. Are you kidding? She's amazing at it, and she knows it.

Do her struggles to break into the business ever remind you of your own start?

Oh my God, no! [laughs] No, I'm smarter than that. I would have given up looooong ago. Thank God I haven't had to handle as many rejections. And I also have a better support system in real life than Dee does in hers. I think that's key.

What are some Season 5 highlights that you're excited for people to see?

We do an episode called "The Gang Wrestles for the Troops." We put on a wrestling show for the troops to show our appreciation. And that's fun... [pauses to recall episodes] [Rob and Glenn] probably explained this: we shoot in blocks of seven, so we shoot scenes from seven different episodes every day. So your brain is so crammed full of stuff, I don't think about it in episodes, I think about it in scenes. So I'm trying to really [remember]...The one where Sweet Dee becomes a surrogate mother, that's a really fun one. They're all great. They're all like big and stupid, and there's really fun stuff that we all get to do this year, so it's great. [calls to Rob, who is at another table] Are we talking about the Christmas episode, or no?

[Rob calls back, "What? We're talking about Bruce Willis' penis over here."]

Can I talk about Bruce Willis' penis, too? Because I know it well. [returns to our conversation] We do a Christmas episode that's a special two-part episode, and that's going to be really fun. I think they just got done editing, and it's going to be amazing. It's going on a special DVD. That's going to be good.

[feigns sarcasm] "A very special Christmas episode"? Surely the gang can't actually learn a lesson, can they?

[feigns sarcasm back] Well, it's called "A Very Sunny Christmas." And maybe we do. Maybe we surprise you. Maybe we do. So why don't you take your judgement, put it in your tape recorder, and go home with it? [laughs]

As Dee, you have a very specific way of saying "goddammit" that makes it sound like a harsher curse than it actually is. Has that become a catchphrase for her?

[laughs] I think so. I didn't realize it was until we were shooting a scene this year, and my line was "goddammit." And then Glenn comes up in between takes and was like, "Ummm...Can you give me like a 'Dee' goddammit?" And I was like, "I don't even know what that means!" I didn't even know I was doing that. But then ever since then, I realized that I do say it a particular way. [laughs] I'm just trying to make it sound as bad as possible--trying to really express my frustration with whatever situation it is.

Do fans often talk to you about other catchphrases?

Yeah, it's great. I'm getting a lot of "I will eat your babies, bitch." In fact, I got a couple requests for that one. We were signing some autographs today. And I will say this: my mother has a t-shirt that says "I will eat your babies, bitch" on it.

It sounds like mom is pretty supportive...

My parents are, yes. My parents are amazing. They find that hilarious.

Given that you and Rob recently got married, do they get weirded about by Mac's abuse of Dee?

"Don't be mean to my daughter!" No. If anything, they're all mean to me on that show, so I don't think it's specific to Rob. My parents, I have to say, are like the most amazingly supportive parents I've ever even heard of. They're awesome. They're so proud, and they legitimately find the show really funny, and love bragging to their friends that that's me. [laughs]

Do they visit you guys on set?

Yeah, totally...They just, like, sneak in and don't want to be in the way. They come every year and watch us shoot.

Rob was saying it was nice to spend so much time together at work...

Was he saying that? Oh, that's nice. I'm very surprised that he said that.

Is it therapeutic to be able to act out your frustrations on the show?

[laughs] You know, this is going to be like the grossest possible answer, but we just don't really fight that much. We don't. That's one of the reasons I like him so much. We're good fighters together--we kind of just discuss things, and then we're like, [casually and politely] "Okay, thanks." It's really irritating. [laughs]

But do you maybe get to vent in character as Dee and Mac?

Yeah, we can scream at each other. We can scream. Yeah, he's very irritating in character, that's for sure. He's much cuter when he's not in character.

We understand a lot of work goes into Sunny throughout the year...

You know, I come in and work for three months out of the year. And it's long--like 12 to 16 hour days--but then I'm done. [Rob, Charlie, and Glenn] start preparing and writing in October, and we don't get done until September.

So you get the good schedule...

I get the great schedule. And he works really hard. So it's really nice when we're working together, because I get to actually see him. Because otherwise I'm like, "I like to eat dinner at 7. It's 8 o'clock, where are you? I'm starving!" And yeah, just like waiting for him to get home... [pauses] That made me sound really lame. I also have a really amazing life and my own thing going on, so I'm not usually making him dinner and waiting around for him. But sometimes that happens.

Ever feel like you're disrupting a bromance between the guys?

[laughs] Oh, man. No, I promised not to Yoko Ono this relationship from the very beginning...You know, this is our fifth year, and I feel like these are my best friends for five years. So I don't see them as separate from me, really. I do get asked that a lot though, like, "As the only girl..." And I have to stop and think about it. I'm like, "Oh, am I?" Like it seems like we're all friends. I don't really see it as "the three of them, and then me."

How was the dynamic of the show impacted when Danny DeVito joined the cast in the second season? The transition seemed very seamless...

Well, I think that's a credit to Danny. I think he did a really great job of coming in and matching what we were doing easily. And the truth is, he finds it funny, and that's why it's so easy. And he actually does joke around with us like that in real life, too. It's his brand of humor, so it just worked out really well. We got really lucky, because it could have been a nightmare, you know? If anybody wanted to come in and just be a "big star" and be treated differently, it could have been weird. Because we were this tiny little show and very, very low budget. Nobody knew who any of us were. We just were showing up and having a good time all day long. And we really needed someone like that to come and jump in. And he's amazing.

Do you ever have reservations about saying a particular line?

Because of it being inappropriate or something? No, not at all. You know, it's an ensemble, and I think they're all hilarious, and hopefully they all think that I am. We all think we're very funny. [laughs] So you want to be as funny as possible when you're working in a scene where everyone else is there...So I get excited when there's big, crazy things that people are going to go, [outraged] "What did she say?!" That's fun for me.

Any past episodes that are a little embarrassing to you?

I think the welfare episode...That was embarrassing. And that was a really good one. I guess the only one that I've ever really thought, "Oh, is that what we're calling it?" was "Sweet Dee's Dating a Retarded Person." Because, I don't know...Saying the word retarded is not necessarily funny to me. But then the episode was really funny. It wasn't that he may have been retarded, it was that we couldn't figure out whether he actually did have a learning disability, and that was, [says in a wacky comedy voice] "You can't help it! You think it's funny, even if you don't want to..."

Do you find that the show gets protested by groups who feel it's offensive?

I don't know if we've been cushioned from that, but I don't get that, ever. I really find that people are like, "The show is ridiculous and crazy, but it's so funny, we love it, it's our favorite show!" But then again, who's going to come up to us on the street and yell...Well, I don't know, maybe that happens. I don't get anyone yelling at me on the street that they don't like it.

What do you think is the show's secret of being able to get away with its sometimes racy humor?

Well, I think the secret, honestly, is that if you watch it and you have an open mind, even if you think you're not going to like it, you're going to see that these characters are idiots, and they always get theirs in the end. And so we're never making fun of people, we're making fun of these types of characters. So it's not malicious. It just makes us laugh because we're making fun of people who are ridiculous. And I don't see anything wrong with that. I think that's why. Yeah. Like, "don't go throw your baby in a dumpster..."

You got to tackle a different style of comedy in Weather Girl. How was your experience of shooting that movie?

It was fun. It was a much bigger, more sketch comedy kind of character, which I love. And just a very stupid character, which I always find amazingly fun to play--stupid blonde characters. It was really fun. I had a great time. It was fun to work with Mark Harmon. And it was just a completely different character than Dee, and Dee is what I've been playing for years now, so it was fun to do something different.

You had no problem fitting that into Sunny's schedule?

Yeah, I did that before we started last season. And they got me in and out of there in two weeks. So it wasn't bad at all. You know, we shoot our show like a movie--it's single camera, it's long hours. That's how they shoot. So that wasn't really a change for me. It was just the character that was different, and the people that were different. It was great, though. I love doing all kinds of different stuff.

How has your Comic-Con experience been so far?

Great. We just got here and went and did some signings, and then came right to you guys. So it's been great. Lots of fans. It was really nice.

If you decided to get into the spirit of things by dressing up as a character, which would you pick?

Something cool. Something not hot. I noticed a lot of big, fuzzy costumes in there, and I'm telling you guys, it was hot! They are sweating underneath there. I think I'd probably dress up as... [pauses] I can't even think of anything.

How about the Princess Leia slave girl outfit? That's light and airy...

Princess Leia! Yeah, why not? You know what? Thank you. That's exactly what it is. Plus, the braids--the buns on the side. That's hot on anybody.

Plan on checking anything out while you're here at Comic-Con?

We're going to try. We're only here until tomorrow, so we'll see. I'm not really sure what the plan is. Those guys couldn't come yesterday because they're working. [jokes] "Whatever, I'm done! So I feel like the whole thing should be done!"

Thanks for your time.

Thank you, guys!

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