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LAist Interview: Charlie Day of "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia"

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LAist had the chance to talk to Charlie Day a couple weeks ago. He's the co-creator, writer, producer, and actor in FX's It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia[FX, 10:00pm Thursday], the best and most outlandish cable comedy on TV. Day created the series after shooting the pilot with a couple friends in their apartments and guerilla-style on the streets of LA. FX picked it up and the team lucked out getting Danny DeVito on board as well as directors like Fred Savage.

We started the questions off asking about the McPoyle Clan, the hilarious rivals to Charlie and his bar buddies.

LAist: Hello, Charlie. I wanted to ask, what was the inspiration for the McPoyle clan? They’re amazing; the caricatures of them when they come on, the whole bunch of them are very riveting.

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Charlie Day: Jimmy Simpson and Nate Mooney, the two very inspired actors who play Ryan and Liam McPoyle, are good friends of mine from way back when. Jimmy Simpson and I were roommates in New York City for many years and all the original home videos started with Jimmy. I think he even helped us out a little bit when we made the Sunny pilot; I think I remember him coming in and holding cameras for us one day. Nate Mooney as well, I’ve been friends with for a long time.

When we were writing their first episode, we had this idea for these crazy brothers and we basically tailor-made the roles for Jimmy and Nate, knowing what they could bring to a scene and how very talented they are. I think one of our secrets to the success of the show is to exploit the talents of all the talented people that we know and those two, I think we have gotten the most mileage out of.

Now the name McPoyle, I went to college with a guy named Brendan McPoyle who is absolutely nothing like those characters whatsoever, although he did have 13 brothers and sisters. I just always thought it was a funny name, so I gave them that name. I’ve since heard from friends who were at a wedding that he’s not happy about it, so I do apologize. I no longer have his phone number, but it’s all in good fun.

LAist: We’ll spread the word.

Charlie Day: I think the inspiration behind the characters was really the talents of Jimmy Simpson and Nate Mooney.

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[More interview after the jump!]

LAist: Do you shoot some episodes in Philadelphia or there is at least footage done there. What's the decision making? Is it strictly budget? How do you decide if you are going to do an all on location episode? How plot driven does it have to be? I've enjoyed seeing the shots near the convention center and I know that exact spot. That's a lot of fun seeing that.

Charlie Day: We write the episodes as if they were all going to take place from beginning to end in Philadelphia. I think, ideally, we would shoot it all in Philadelphia if that were a financial and a life reality for us. We set out and we write the episodes just imagining they do take place in Philadelphia.

Then, we go through and we say to ourselves, what can we actually shoot in Philadelphia and what can we shoot in Los Angeles? In the "Invincible" episode, which I think was the convention center one you're referring to, we wrote that episode and hoped and kept our fingers crossed we'd be allowed to shoot at or near the Linc. And they were great about letting us shoot there. It could have been very possible that we got a memo from Lincoln Financial Field or the NFL saying you can't shoot here. In which case, we would have had to find a parking lot somewhere and cheat it.

That's how those decisions are made. They're made with wishful thinking. You try and jam as much Philadelphia in where you can, and then when challenges or hurdles pop up, you jump through them and hope the audience is none the wiser.

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LAist: How much of this current season is done and in the bag, both in terms of writing and what you've shot?

Charlie Day: Writing is done, done, done, we finished that months and months ago in January or February. Shooting is done, completed. Rob, Glenn, and I just locked picture on the final episode. So aside from a small handful of sound mixing, making sure everything sounds perfect, we're done.

LAist: Obviously, you're not just coasting, you're helping promote and get the show out and getting everybody to watch the rest of the season. What else do you have going on right now?

Charlie Day: I'm looking forward to a little coasting, because it has been a really long haul for us. We started writing these episodes about a year ago. Rob, Glenn, and myself really carry the bulk of the work. We wrote, we were there every day and then we shoot. We're there for every day and every scene and then we edit. And we're there for every day that we can be there. Now, we're finally done, but I think we're going to rest up a little bit in the hopes that we'll come back and make more Sunny's for everyone.

LAist: That's great. What do you like about LA and living there, versus where you've come from and what you don't like, one sentence for each?

Charlie Day: It's pretty simple. I love LA because I can have space, sunlight, good weather and play a little golf. There's not too much I hate about LA other than the commutes.

LAist: Yes, the insane freeways. Great and thank you very much, we're looking forward to the rest of the season.

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Charlie Day: Thank you.