She's one of the funniest women on TV, she's one of the most gifted physical comedians around, and she not only holds her own among a cast full of over-the-top male characters, she sometimes even manages to best them — all of which is on display again in the new season of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" (Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on FXX).
Dee is played by Emmy-worthy actress Kaitlin Olson, who is thrilled that Season 9 opened last week with a Dee-centric episode, "The Gang Broke Dee" — even if it meant eating a whole cake. The episode found Dee in a low place, with a cigarette and bottle of whiskey in one hand, and a forkful of "trash cake" in the other.
"I ate quite a bit of cake. Yeah. I'm glad you asked about that, because you see someone doing an eating scene, and normally you're just moving food around on your plate and pretending to eat, because you can shoot it 50 times," Olson tells Yahoo TV. "But I had to devour that cake. We probably shot that scene six or seven times. I believe I ate an entire cake."
Olson also talked with us about an upcoming guest appearance by Sweet Dee's fantasy man Josh Groban, how co-star Danny DeVito is the show's wacky father figure, and why she and her real-life husband, "Sunny" creator and co-star Rob McElhenney, will never be a couple on the show.
1. We know from "Mac's Mom Burns Her House Down" that Sweet Dee loves her some Josh Groban, who's guest starring this season. Will she finally have a dream romance?
"He makes a very brief, but very fun appearance. It's another episode in which all of Dee's dreams are coming true… but not," Olson laughs. "We all go into a convenience store, and it gets robbed. We all hide and freak out, and the camera zooms in on each one of us individually, as you see that character's fantasy of what would happen if they were to save the day. You get inside the head of everyone, their ideal circumstance."
2. Dee is the character who has the best chemistry with the rest of the gang. Who's Olson's favorite storyline co-star?
"I love the human meat episode (Season 4's "Mac and Dennis: Manhunters"), because Charlie and I play a lot. We just kept screwing around and improvising. Everyone's got a different energy, so you can react in different ways. It keeps it fresh, and it's always a good time."
3. Mac is probably the character Dee is paired with least often. Any chance the two of them might imitate real life and become a couple on the show?
"No, never," she chuckles. "Me and Mac will never get together. I think Mac and Dee are revolted by each other. In fact, you'll get a much more clear understanding of, how shall I say, Mac's lack of interest in women in this season. Mac is like a very aggressively bible thumping rule follower who… it just becomes very clear this season that Mac's just straight up gay. Straight-up homophobic gay man. When you see this season, and then you look back, you'll be like, 'Ohhh, right.'"
4. Some of Dee's best moments involve physical comedy. Did she really ram her head into that car door in that Season 4 episode?
Yes. Yes, she did. "That was my head," Olson confirms.
"They had a stunt double there, and I was like, 'Yeah, but you're going to watch [me] all the way out and then [the double] throw her body.' I think that's part of the acting. I don't want someone else to do it for me. So, yeah, I needed to see a chiropractor many times afterwards, but whatever, it worked out."
5. The funniest part of that story is that they had to limit her to one take. She wanted to smash her head into the car door more than once?
"Yeah. I really wanted to do it a few times so I could get a good take. I joke about hurting myself. But when I hurt myself on set, a couple of times it's been bad."
"Like, I went to the emergency room this year. I ripped my leg completely wide open on a steel grate that we were running on. It was a mess. Poor Glenn [Howerton, her "Sunny" co-star] was like, 'I'm sorry, I have to walk away. I can't see this.' It was a lot of blood. But I've had two babies, so I was extremely calm. I was like, 'Alright, well, this is a real problem, but let's get the ambulance here, and I'll apply pressure, and we'll figure this out. Don't worry, everyone. It's just a skin thing.' You could see my bone, though… my shin bone."
6. Any downsides to being the only female cast member?
"I love it. But I'm not sure if I love being the only woman, or I just happen to love the dynamic that we have going. I just think of myself more as a piece of the puzzle. I'm not sure if I feel too gender specific about it. I think that they think I'm funny, and that makes me really happy. I'm definitely proud of the female character that we've created together. I think it's a really strong one. But I would say that I love being part of this team. I don't really think about it in terms of being the only woman that much."
7. Did she really almost not take the role of Sweet Dee Reynolds?
"In the beginning, before Season 1, I almost didn't take [the role], because I was reading the scripts, and Dee was the voice of reason, and they all were really funny. I said, 'With all due respect, I just don't want to play that character. I don't want to be the voice of reason.' It just wasn't what I was interested in doing, They said to me, 'Look, we just haven't really written for women that much, but we'll figure it out.' My first thought was, 'Well, don't write for a woman. Just write another funny character.' I'll make it female just by not doing anything. I just am a woman. Don't think about it as male or female."
"Of course, you have to have some female touches, and they've written in some hurt-feelings stuff that's more feminine, I guess. Some of my favorite Dee moments are very 'masculine' things, though. They're very traditionally masculine things. I don't know. I find that funny."
8. Danny DeVito… definitely the wildest cast member, no? Troll foot, for example…
"Yeah. Good lord, with the troll foot. I mean, come on! Danny's a ham, and everything comes really naturally to him, so he doesn't have to do a lot of preparation. He can just show up and mosey in at the last second and go. That leaves a lot of time for just screwing around. When we do scenes where there are a lot of background people and people who are new, he loves it. He just lights up. He can't help it. He's just a natural performer. He still loves it. I think that's why he's still so relatable. He's just having a really great time."
9. But is he also kind of a father figure?
"Big time, yeah. Danny's got a really big trailer. It's because he owns it, and so the production just rents it from him. He's had it for 20 years, and it's much more like a living room. He always wants us to come in there, and he'll do a big sushi lunch once a week. He's very protective of me. When I was pregnant, or whenever I hurt myself and am recovering, he's always like, 'Where's Kaitlin's chair? She should be sitting down.' And he's also very proud. That's the other way he's a father figure. He's so proud of us. You can see that he sits back and smiles when somebody's complimenting the show. I think that, instead of taking that compliment personally, he's proud of his kids for doing a great show. It's really cute."
"It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on FXX.
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- Kaitlin Olson