Kaitlin Olson Doesn't Hold Back On Her Stunts For It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia

The success of the FX comedy series "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" has launched the careers of its hilarious main cast, including its sole leading lady, Kaitlin Olson. Her ingenius performance as Dee Reynolds is a major asset to the show, which would not be half as funny without her knack for crude jokes and brutal physical comedy.

Some of the most beloved episodes of the series are carried by Olson's performances, such as in Season 9's premiere "The Gang Broke Dee" or the Season 3 episode that delivers much of Dee's backstory, "The Aluminum Monster vs Fatty Magoo." Time and time again, Olson has proven that there is no line she will not cross for the sake of a terrific gag. This no-holds-barred approach to comedy is not qualified by fear of physical stunts, either. The "Sunny" cast is no stranger to dangerous stunts, but Olson in particular has developed a reputation for being the most committed member of the cast when it comes to delivering a dangerous bit.

'We kind of have to reel her back a little because she just goes for it'

Olson has an undeniably distinctive and expressive flair in her delivery that calls back to the physical comedy of Charlie Chaplin. Marc Scizak, who was the show's stunt coordinator from 2009 to 2019, told The New York Times that her style proved too distinctive for other actresses to replicate. He explained "it is so hard to double her because nobody has her delivery, her body mannerisms," and anyone who's seen the show can agree. "On bigger gags where she's going to get hurt, we have to kind of reel her back a little because she just goes for it," he said.

One of the best episodes that heavily features Olson's physical comedic genius is the second episode of Season 12, "The Gang Goes To The Water Park," wherein Dee goes down a slide built for small children and gets stuck, causing a pile-up. When kids started falling down on top of her, smashing her face against the wall of the tube, Scizak says that Olson "didn't feel like it sold right and [she] wanted to go harder" with the stunt. It's an incredible thing to see such a brave commitment to stunts, but according to Scizak, "she does that stuff all the time."

A real dent and a real car

In "Who Pooped the Bed?" from the show's fourth season, one of the best bits of the episode almost didn't happen because it was deemed too dangerous by the stunt coordinator, Scizak's predecessor. He was probably right, but luckily Olson didn't listen. When Dee rushes out of a store wearing heels that are too small and too expensive for her to buy, and the character trips and bashes her head into the door of a car, that is all Olson, no body double. 

Olson's co-stars and series creators Charlie Day and Rob McElhenney discussed the stunt with Olson on "The Always Sunny Podcast," where the actress explained her decision to perform the scene herself rather than allow the stunt woman to step in.

"Well, listen, I was angry because [the stunt person] wasn't funny, and she wasn't gonna flail her body in a funny way, and I needed you guys to give me a chance, and I knew I only had one chance, so I just really went for it ... I saw a chiropractic after that, but it was totally worth it."

After Olson did the first take herself, the stunt woman did an additional take "for safety." Day admits that "the stunt woman didn't do it half as good as [Olson] did it," to which McElhenney rebuffs, "No, because she did it safely!" Still, McElhenney (who is also Olson's husband) admits that his wife's fearlessness produced one of his "favorite moments of the show."