Can you believe that New Jersey native Danny DeVito has never appeared on Broadway? It’s pretty surprising, but the 67 year-old star of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia might finally get his chance: his performance in The Sunshine Boys in the West End has gotten rave reviews and a move to New York is under consideration. DeVito spoke to The New York Times about his return to the stage after a long absence.
Considering that DeVito began scaling back his acting roles in the 1990s in favor of producing and directing, DeVito is currently in an exciting juncture of his acting career. Not only is he a hit in his first play in decades and star in Always Sunny, but there are even discussions for him to reteam with Arnold Schwarzenegger in a sequel to their 1988 comedy Twins. But DeVito says his recent return to acting full-time is all part of his plan, saying, “Some of my friends couldn’t believe I was going back to television on an FX show — a blip on the radar, they said — and then they really couldn’t believe that I was going back to theater. But at this point in my life I don’t want to overthink things. I know when a role is a good fit for me.”
Nevertheless, DeVito points to his recent darker roles as opportunities that “allow me to follow my bliss.” He adds, “I’ve always tried to pick roles — big roles, very small roles — where the characters have an edgy view of the world, are full of life, give off a so-crazy-I-can’t-believe-it vibe.”
However, it hasn’t been without difficulty. DeVito hasn’t acted on stage since the 1970s, so in order to get into the character of Willie in The Sunshine Boys he purposely isolated himself. He explains, “I was nervous about not having been onstage since the ’70s and came here wanting to be totally in my own space, for total concentration. Sitting alone in my apartment helped me see how desperate Willie is, which is what I wanted to find, because I thought the play was both very funny and very sad. The downside was, I became a little sad myself.”
As for the possible move to Broadway, DeVito welcomes the opportunity. He says, “I wouldn’t want to come to New York in something frivolous, just doing shtick. There’s a sadness in the relationship between these two men that really got to me, and I think it’d surprise American audiences who might have a certain expectation about a Neil Simon comedy — and about me.”