Frank Reynolds Only Exists Because Of An 'It's Always Sunny' Ultimatum
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Ahhh, Frank Reynolds – purveyor of terrorist-backed colas, buyer of monster condoms (for his magnum dong), and It's Always Sunny Philadelphia's most famous trash man. While it may be difficult to picture the gang without its resident MD/warthog/ex-sweatshop operator, Frank's inclusion as a permanent member of the Paddy's Pub crew wasn't always part of the FXX sitcom's original plan. Frank Reynolds, as we know and (mostly) love him, actually found his roots in a demand from Sunny's former network overlords, singlehandedly proving that ultimatums can work – but like, only if Danny DeVito is involved.
According to a recent episode of the Always Sunny Podcast hosted by Charlie Day, Rob McElhenney, and Glenn Howerton (a.k.a. show's co-creators/actors behind Mac, Charlie, and five-star man, Dennis), the genesis of Frank Reynolds -- and DeVito's eventual casting -- all stemmed from an ultimatum from FX after Sunny's first season: Add some star power for season two or GTFO.
“They said ‘look if you can get a big name on your show, and we can attract some more viewers – you're doing this show cheaply that it's worth it for us to take another crack at it,'” Day recalled, noting he felt “surprised” the network didn't just “can it."
Considering the trio were already contemplating tossing some of the characters' parents into the mix (Mac's mom is truly a national treasure – and so is Charlie's if you're a Santa impersonator) adding in a permanent father figure for Dennis and Dee wasn't too far of a stretch. But according to Howerton, the concept of initiating another permanent member to the gang was apparently a tall ask. “We were skeptical about bringing on a new cast member,” he recalled. “The idea of making that person a regular cast member felt a little like like 'wait, that's gonna f--k with the dynamic too much.'”
Despite this skepticism, folding Danny DeVito into the mix as Frank Reynolds did not, in fact, f--k with the dynamic too much, his addition partly thanks to his adult children, who were apparently among the show's extremely small early fanbase.
“We bounced a few names around, but Danny just made a lot of sense,” McElhenney said in 2013 interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “When I went to his house to talk about it, his kids ended up being huge fans of the show and he was good friends with John Landgraf from when Landgraf ran television at Jersey Films," he continued, referencing the production company the actor ran with his wife, Rhea Perlman. "Danny kept asking all of these questions, and I was really winging it with the character — we had a rough idea — so after about half an hour, he thanked me and I left.”
This brief meeting was enough to sell the star on a role that would ultimately involve him emerging butt-naked from a leather couch. “It wasn’t 10 or 15 minutes before I got a call from Landgraf saying Danny was in," McElhenney explained.
Although having the je ne sais quois of Arnold Schwarznegger's 4'10" twin has become an integral part of Frank Reynolds's identity, the star wasn't always a shoo-in for the role. Several other actors were up for the part of the gang's toe-knife-wielding patriarch, namely movie mobster-turned Bee Movie honey mascot, Ray Loitta.
“We got very serious about Ray Liotta,” Howerton said of the casting process on the podcast.
So folks, take it from the Sunny crew, – ultimatums don't work … unless our lord and savior Danny DeVito is somehow involved.
Top Image: FXX