Glenn Howerton talks about his role in FX’s hit show “Fargo”

Glenn Howerton can usually be seen on FX playing the slightly diabolical Dennis Reynolds on “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”, on which he also writes and executive produces. However this spring he’s joined the network’s newest drama, Fargo, based on the critically acclaimed Coen brothers film. Howerton plays Don Chumph a gullible personal trainer out to blackmail his client’s wealthy ex-husband with the help of Lorne Malvo (an intense Billy Bob Thornton). The multi-talented Howerton joined MediaMikes on a call to discuss Don, Fargo and was more than happy to field a few ‘Sunny’ questions as well.

What originally attracted you to the show and playing Don?

Glenn Howerton: I didn’t know a whole lot about it when I said yes to it if I’m being honest. You know, television moves at a different pace than film. I knew that the Coen Brothers were involved, I’ve been a big fan of FX dramas for a while, and obviously I’ve been a part of the family for many many years and the president of FX John Landgraf called me and you know, he knows my background is not really in comedy. A lot of my background is actually in a lot more dramatic stuff, weird. You know so he threw it out there, ‘would you ever want to be on one of our dramas?’ and I said absolutely. So it just came along and even though it’s kind of a comedic role, he felt like it was something I hadn’t really done comedically before and it was part of a drama and he explained the concept to me, who the character was, what the tone of the show was. I’m a big fan of the movie Fargo. Basically without ever even seeing the script, I said yes just because of all the people that were involved.

Would you say the character of Don is a reference to the character Brad Pitt played in the Coens’s Burn After Reading?

Howerton: I assumed the same thing you did when I read the script, that it was a pretty clear homage to that character. I don’t remember ever actually having that conversation with Noah [Hawley] but I know that he definitely wanted to distinguish it enough from that character. Which I think is something that happens naturally when you cast two actors. He and I are always going to have a different take on it. So yeah, I think the homage was clearly there but I certainly tried to stay away from anything Brad did in the movie. It was nice because I actually did rewatch a lot of Coen Brothers movies including Burn After Reading and I was like my god, Brad Pitt’s performance in that is so brilliant…I don’t even think I could match that even if I wanted to.

Your character is not exactly the sharpest tool in the shed, how difficult is that to play?

Howerton: Well some of the tools are not meant to be sharp. So I’ll start with that, you know, you’ve got a lot of instruments in the tool shed…It’s kind of a difficult question to answer only because I’m one of those guys that I have to just kind of feel it. Otherwise it becomes a very intellectual exercise if I start thinking about it too much. So I think it’s more getting into a very open minded mindset where for me, I felt like this was the kind of guy who is very easily influenced. Especially by someone with such a presence as Lorne Malvo has. Obviously there is the threat of violence behind it all. But I think this guy’s not so much afraid of any kind of violence against him as he is of sort of getting caught. I don’t know, it’s sort of just the feeling of being innocent again. I mean it is a very different character than the character certainly I play on ‘Sunny’, who thinks he knows everything. I think this guy thinks he doesn’t know as much as he needs to know. But I don’t know…I think it’s just bringing a real openess to the role. More listening than demanding or saying.

How was it sharing scenes with Billy Bob Thornton as Lorne?

Howerton: Billy’s great. I’m always a little concerned any time I get into a scene with somebody who I–you know someone I have so much respect for as I do with Billy. Just because they say never meet your idol, you know, so…I don’t want to meet this guy and have him be a son of a bitch or something. But he could not be a nicer, easier person to work with. He’s extremely open to suggestion, very easy to work with. Very professional, being on set knowing all of his lines, clearly is listening. I’m a big fan people who I feel like when I’m talking to them in the scene, they’re actually listening to what I’m saying. So even if I did flub a line, he was listening to me, he’d pick up on it. So it was a lot of fun. It kind of became like a really weird sort of Abbott and Costello-y kind of relationship where I kind of end up becoming his lackey. It was a lot of fun and you know, I’m not accustomed to usually playing the, for lack of a better word, the dumb one in the comedic relationship. I’m usually the straight man so it was a lot of fun not playing the straight man.

Did you have a favorite scene while shooting Fargo?

Howerton: I’m thinking the scene that I did in the closet with [Billy Bob] was a lot of fun which in the script was actually a little bit of a longer scene with more in there. But as I’m well versed with ‘Sunny’, you only have so much time to tell the story so you gotta cut out anything that’s not absolutely essential. But I had a really good time shooting that scene.  It’s almost awkward to be literally inches away from someone’s face doing a scene. But I think that’s part of why it’s so awkward and funny to shoot.

Coming from writing and acting on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, is it hard to resist coming up with input on this character?

Howerton:  It’s not hard for me to resist it because it’s not something that, this is going to sound weird, I’m not compelled often to be a writer. I would much rather as an actor get something that’s so well written that I don’t feel the desire to write it or rewrite it. And that was certainly the case with Noah’s writing. I think he strove for a certain amount of excellence in his writing where you said things pretty much word for word that would convey exactly the message that it needed to convey. So I really stuck pretty closely to the script on this one, but to Noah’s credit, there were certain sections where my character was sort of fumfering through a moment where he was absolutely open to me changing or altering things in any way that I saw fit. But to be honest, most of the time I stuck pretty closely to the script.

How would the ‘Sunny’ gang cope with the situation that Don’s found himself in?

Howerton: I think that’s a difficult question to answer certainly because…most of the guest star roles we have on Sunny are sort of mowed over by our extremely energetic, forceful characters. You know, in season seven we actually did have a similar situation of being trapped in a closet…so I think the difference between Don and Dennis, Dennis would have spent the entire time trying to get out of that closet. Whereas Don just you know, just spent the night eating whatever he had in the cabinet and peeing into his shoe. Or whatever the hell he did, I don’t know. I think he’s a much more thoughtful, trusting character, Don. Whereas Dennis is you know more cynical and untrusting.

There’s a rumored Lethal Weapon reboot happening, how would the Always Sunny Gang react to that news having made their own sequels?

Howerton: My god. I didn’t hear that. They’re talking about remaking Lethal Weapon?

Lauren Damon: Yeah, with Chris Hemsworth.

Howerton: Oh wow, wow. Okay. Well I think they you know, in true Sunny fashion, there would be some characters who would be excited about it. And I think there would be some characters who would be adamently against it. And then the characters would probably battle it out in some way. But personally, me? Sure. Why not? [laughs] I thought the Robocop remake was good, I’ll say that!

“Fargo” airs on FX Tuesday nights at 10pm

“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” has recently began shooting its tenth season.


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Glenn Howerton on the Ninth Season of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia began it’s ninth season this month on new network FXX.  Four episodes in and it’s clear that the gang from Paddy’s Pub is just as dysfunctional as fans have come to expect. Executive producer and writer, Glenn Howerton, who plays Dennis Reynolds, held a phone conference to talk about the show’s new season.

Seeing as last season’s opener played up a significant prop from Charlie and Frank’s apartment (a dog painted by Hitler), I wondered about something viewers can spot in Dennis and Mac’s home:

Lauren Damon: I love the fact that there’s a prominent Hulk hand on the TV in Dennis and Mac’s apartment. Is that Dennis’s, Mac’s, or is it just because everyone has anger management problems? 
Glenn Howerton: “I don’t know whose that is.  I mean, that’s one of those things where early on in the series we had a set decorator, they decorated the apartment to have all this stuff in it, and we just never changed it.  So, really, a lot of those things weren’t deliberate decisions at all.  The only deliberate decisions we’ve made, in terms of our apartment, were probably when you go into Mac’s room and you see that it’s pretty sparse, and there’s just this crucifix on the wall, and like a picture of his dad.  But, all that stuff, it’s just ridiculous because now, us being in like our mid-thirties, it looks like the apartment that, you know, two 19-year-olds would share together, which I actually think is kind of funny.”

Accidental Hulk hands aside, Howerton did reveal in a recent Reddit AMA that he would be interested in playing The Riddler from Batman if given the opportunity.

Have you ever pursued or been pursued, for any of those big budget superhero films?
Howerton: “Not really… Let’s see, I think ten years ago, I auditioned for the Superman reboot, and that was about like two years before that actually came out, the one with Brandon Routh.  But, that was before Sunny.  And then, I did audition recently for the Guardians of the Galaxy, to play the role that Chris Pratt is playing.  I know that the director of that movie, supposedly, is a big Sunny fan, which is cool.  But, usually, they’re already looking for some giant movie star to play those roles.

I certainly don’t have anything against doing something like that.  I have to admit, I really do enjoy playing bad guys, and extremely evil people, which is why it’s a lot of fun for me to play Dennis, or at least the challenge is making Dennis, you know, likable even though he’s such a despicable person.  I think playing something like The Riddler would definitely feel like it was in my wheelhouse.”

LD: One of my favorite things about Dennis, is that he such an incredible sociopath kind-of character, and I was wondering if you could talk about what do you think are some of the creepiest things he’s done in the series, and is there anything we can look forward to him getting up to in the rest of this season?
Howerton: “You know, it’s a funny question for me to try and answer because we do work very, very hard to—I guess you could argue that things like having the conversation about ‘the implication’ is pretty dark [from the season 6 episode “The Gang Buys a Boat”].  But, it’s weird, I get a little bit defensive about that, because in a way, for as dark as it is, I think the character does make it very, very clear that he wouldn’t ever actually hurt these women.  He just wants them to think that the possibility of them getting hurt is there, so he can get his way.  It’s still dark, but I’d say that’s one of the darker things.

Last season, in order to stay in character as playing this Ryan LeFevre personality that Dennis was playing, I almost—well, not me, but my character almost had sex with, like, a small Asian caddy, just to see how far he would be willing to take this whole thing.  So, yes, he’s definitely come very close to crossing some lines that you don’t really recover from, but, yes, there’s definitely going to be some more of that this year.  It’s sort of the nature of the character at this point.”

Howerton’s discussion came not only the morning after the primetime Emmy Awards, for which Sunny continued to be inexplicably unrecognized, but also on the heels of the season’s third episode “The Gang Tries Desperately to Win an Award” which saw the gang attempt to conform to ‘normal’ restaurant standards to impress the TV-Academy-like Philadelphia restaurant association. Watching Paddy’s Pub trying its hardest to conform to standard sitcom hangout tropes (Bright lights! Sassy quips!) was painfully hilarious and begged the question, what did Howerton think of actual “Best Comedy” winner, Modern Family?

Howerton: “Well, to be honest, I haven’t seen a ton of episodes of Modern Family.  But, the episodes I have seen, I think are great.  Because I work in comedy, I actually don’t enjoy watching most comedies just because it’s hard for me not to just sort of analyze it, break it down structurally, and be overly critical of it, you know what I mean?  Not for any other reason other than it’s what I do for a living.  I just don’t watch a lot of stuff.

But, the episodes I have seen of Modern Family, I’ve really enjoyed.  I think it’s a great show and I think it’s very, very difficult to consistently make a funny show on a network, A, because you have more restrictions, and, B, because you have to do more episodes per year.  I’m always very impressed by the fact that I’ve never watched an episode of that show where I wasn’t laughing consistently from start to finish, and I think that’s a hell of an achievement…There are other shows that have won multiple Emmys, and I won’t name any names, where I simply don’t understand why, and I would not put Modern Family in that category at all.  I think that’s a very funny, smart show.”

Why don’t you guys get Emmy love?
Howerton: “I’m the wrong person to ask.  I don’t know.  I mean, I don’t know if you saw the last week’s episode, but we did an entire episode, essentially, about that.  I’m not really entirely certain, all I’ve got are theories, and I’d be happy to spout them for you, but I don’t really know.  I mean, I think first impressions are huge in this business.  I think we started as a very, very small show, and I think we looked so low-budget and FX wasn’t known for comedies, and I don’t think people really paid any attention to us.  We didn’t have Danny [DeVito] on the show, and I think because it took so many years for it to grow its audience, it just, I don’t know.

I think that first impression of a low-budget, we-don’t-need-to-pay-attention-to-this-small- cable-comedy thing kind of stuck.  It seems like, though, the Emmys, in general, they really love cable dramas.  But, they don’t really seem to love cable comedies.  I could be wrong; I don’t pay that close attention to it.”

Probably some of the biggest news for this season actually involves huge cable drama Game of Thrones. Thrones writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss came on board this year to do one episode titled “Flowers For Charlie” Howerton elaborated on how that came about:

Howerton: “They are actually massive, massive fans, and I think they just floated the idea that they had an idea for an episode, and they really wanted to write one, and we just thought let’s just see if that could work.  It’s really the only time where somebody from outside of our ‘organization’ has successfully written an episode, I’ll put it that way.  We took them through the process, and gave them the best shot.  We actually brought them into the room and broke the episode with them, and sent them off to write a draft, sort of incredibly shocked that they would even have the time or the energy to do it.  They came back with a great episode.  We, of course, did what we always do, and we had to do some re-writes, but really not that many.  It was pretty solid.”

Can you share with us any upcoming  guest stars?
: We’ve actually got Seann William Scott; he’s going to be in an episode.  Dude is super fun, super funny.  We’ve also got Josh Groban doing an episode; I think the week after that.  We’ve got a lot of fun people.  Then, of course, we have a lot of our recurring cast, the McPoyles, and Artemis, the Waitress.  We’ve also got Mary Lynn Rajskub from 24, she is going to be back of the show this year [as fan favorite ‘Gail the Snail’], too.

Finally, of course the big question is how much more Always Sunny can viewers expect?
Howerton: “We are definitely going to do one more after this, which I’m sure you know, and then it’s being tossed around the idea of doing more.  It is a question mark, but we’ll see.  We’re still having fun, I can tell you that.”

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia airs every Wednesday at 10pm on FXX.

FXX launched on September 2nd and specific cable listings for the new network can be found on

Glenn Howerton & Rob McElhenney chat about new season of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”

Season eight of FX’s hit “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” kicked off on October 11th with the discovery that Charlie Kelly (Charlie Day) was in the possession of an original painting by Hitler while Dennis and Dee Reynolds (Glenn Howerton and Kaitlin Olson) mulled over whether or not to pull the plug on its previous owner, their dying Nazi grandfather, Pop Pop. Sounds like things are just about normal for the gang at Paddy’s pub. Creators, and two of the stars of the show, Rob McElhenney and Howerton, discussed writing the heightened world of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia starting with that season-opening artwork.

Glenn Howerton: That painting was actually in Charlie’s apartment during the second season of the show. That was basically just set decoration in the second season. Interestingly enough, we actually were the ones that when we got into editing and we were watching the show—all the episodes of Season 2, that painting stood out to us so much, too much, it was too distracting. We actually said we never want to see that painting again. Take it down. Get rid of it because it’s just a shining, white, weird painting in the background of every Charlie’s apartment scene.

Rob McElhenney: We had so many fans and so many comments, asking about it. When we took it down, people were irate.

Howerton: Yes. They were like, what happened to that dog painting? We loved that dog painting. We kept thinking, the scenes aren’t supposed to be about a painting of a dog in the background. We just felt like it was too distracting, but we always wanted to bring it back in some way.

Another recently solved series mystery was the revelation of Mac’s real name.

From the last season finale, did you always know that ‘Mac’ was going to be Ronald McDonald, or is that something that just occurred to you? Will you have a similar revelation with The Waitress?

McElhenney: We’ve been talking about that for a while.

Howerton: We’ve been talking about what ‘Mac’s’ name is for a long time. I think we came up with the idea that his real name was Ronald MacDonald a while ago; like a couple years ago. We also thought it was so ridiculous we weren’t sure if we ever really wanted to reveal it or if we did that it would ever actually be that. So, we finally decided to do it. As far as The Waitress goes, we don’t have any plans as of now to ever tell anyone what her name is. Although she does have a name and we do know what it is.

The Waitress, played by Charlie Day’s real-life spouse Mary Elizabeth Ellis is one of several recurring characters that fans have seen develop (or in many cases, regress) over the past eight seasons. Among some favorites we saw in the eighth season premiere were Brian Unger’s The Lawyer and David Hornsby’s Rickety Cricket.

Was it more of a gradual development or was it just planned that you would start adding more supporting characters in the show, and open up what was a little more of an insular world with the three leads?

McElhenney: As we built out the show and built out the characters, we realized that what we were creating was a bit of an alternate universe. Certainly, the stakes are just as high as real life, but the results are a little bit different. These people—I was counting how many major car accidents my character has been in over the last seven years. I think I’ve had five or six head-on collisions. I don’t seem to have any—maybe some brain damage, but the character doesn’t seem to have any physical scars. Clearly, we’re creating a heightened reality. When we started joking about who else lives in this universe, who else lives in this world, it just made us laugh. That helped broaden our scope, which I think only adds to the comedy.

Howerton: Maybe more of a parallel universe that an alternate, a completely alternate one; slightly heightened reality, yes.

Asked what guest stars viewers can expect to see popping up in this alternate universe Philly, Howerton and McElhenney had some exciting names for the new season:

Howerton: We’ve got a really fun guest star role for Sean Combs this year; P. Diddy. I’m excited for people to see it. I think it’s very, very different from anything that, at least I’ve ever seen him do, on anything. We’re excited about that.

McElhenney: Guillermo del Toro.

McElhenney: Yes, Guillermo del Toro, the director, writer, producer is also, we found out, a big fan of the show. Charlie just did a movie with him [Pacific Rim] so he really wanted to do a guest star so we wrote him in this year, too. It’s really funny.

McElhenney and Howerton also offered some insight into their writing process for the show.

When you’re writing your episodes, do you have favorite teams that you guys like to work with? The gang is so often shifting alliances, even within one episode.

Howerton: We do try to keep tabs of that, actually, to a certain degree. We try to mix it up as much as possible, so that the same pairing isn’t happening all season long.

McElhenney: Sometimes we’ll find that, too. Where we’ll break three or four episodes in a row and realize that we have ‘Dee’ and ‘Frank’ together for those three or four episodes and we’ll realize that we’ve got to break them up a little bit.

Are there a certain set of criteria that do go in to breaking a story, that you find that you have to have a certain set of criteria?

Howerton: Most importantly, what we’re always talking about is, for as unbelievable as some of the storylines may seem, we have to believe that the characters believe that what they’re doing gets them what they want. That’s the most important aspect of breaking a story, so it doesn’t just feel like a series of funny events. That we really justify why these characters are acting the way that they do. That’s the major criteria that I follow. Of course, we like to tie things up and tie things together. That’s good story writing.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia airs every Thursday at 10pm on FX.


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“Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” Sets Sail on Blu-Ray

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES: The Walt Disney Studios and Jerry Bruckheimer Films are proud to present the #1 worldwide box office success of 2011 – making over $1 billion globally – Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, in stunning high definition Blu-ray™, eye popping Blu-ray 3D™ (a first for the legendary franchise) and Movie Download on October 18, 2011.

Setting sail on an ocean full of hi-def adventures, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides will debut in a Limited Edition 5-Disc Combo Pack (1-Disc Blu-ray 3D + 2-Disc Blu-ray + 1-Disc DVD + 1- Disc Digital Copy), a 2-Disc Combo Pack (1-Disc Blu-ray + 1-Disc DVD), and for the ultimate fan a 15- Disc Four Movie Collection. Additionally the movie will be available in 3D and High-Definition Movie Download.

The Limited Edition 5-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack includes hours of bonus materials offering fans a deeper dive inside Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides including immersive Disney Second Screen technology, exclusive behind-the-scenes experiences, Fountain of Youth mythology, an extensive look at mermaids, bloopers, deleted and extended scenes, and much more.

In addition, the Pirates of the Caribbean 15-Disc Four Movie Collection offers fans more adventures than ever before. The Collection is packaged in an authentic replica Pirate’s Chest, and includes a collectible map and an iconic skull disc case that holds the Blu-ray™ discs and digital copies of ALL four Pirates of the Caribbean movies, along with the Blu-ray 3D™ disc and DVD of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, directed by Rob Marshall (Nine, Chicago), and written by Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio (Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, National Treasure 2Mask of Zorro), Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is the latest addition to the incredibly successful Pirates of the Caribbean franchise that has for years entertained audiences of all ages with its thrilling adventures, hi-tech special effects and unique storylines.

Back as Captain Jack Sparrow, Johnny Depp (Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Alice in Wonderland) returns leading a sensational cast of talents that includes Penélope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona), Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech), Ian McShane (HBO’s“Deadwood”) and more.

The visually stunning film shot in high-definition 3D invites viewers to embark on an adventure-filled ride with Captain Jack Sparrow as he searches for the breathtaking Fountain of Youth. Along the turbulent trip, fans are forced to re-think their knowledge of fairytale creatures when they are introduced to a group of alluring yet precarious mermaids, traverse isolated islands and fight international enemies.

Film Synopsis:
From Disney and producer Jerry Bruckheimer comes all the fun, epic adventure and humor that ignited the original. Johnny Depp returns as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. A tale of truth, betrayal, youth, demise — and mermaids! When Jack crosses paths with a woman from his past (Penélope Cruz), he’s not sure if it’s love or if she’s a ruthless con artist using him to find the fabled Fountain of Youth. Forced aboard the ship of the most feared pirate ever, Jack doesn’t know who to fear more —Blackbeard (Ian McShane) or the woman from his past. Directed by Rob Marshall, it’s filled with eye-popping battle scenes, mystery and all-out wit.