It’s Always Sunny In Brit-adelphia? Really? Only a jabroni would try to remake It’s Only Sunny In Philadelphia and set it in Britain…
It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia is a firm favourite of a whole bunch of us at I’m All Outta Bubblegum. The bizarre, blackly comic shenanigans of the Gang have kept us entertained for years, and the show has continued to be inventive and interesting well beyond a decade after it started. Once upon a time I listed my Top 10 favourite episodes, and struggled to get it down to less than 20. Now I’ve decided to attempt to put together a cast for a British version.
To all of those who say that the show wouldn’t work with the original cast, I’ve got just one thing to say:
Mac’s wisdom aside, I know that IASIP is built totally on the natural chemistry of the cast. Rob McElhenney created the show, and developed it with Glen Howerton. All of the main players are involved in the production and writing of the show, so recreating this show without them would be impossible. Or would it?
Well, there’s a lot of material to work with – 134 episodes – so I could pick and choose the stories. If the team wanted to focus solely on writing, their credentials hold up. Also, like many great sitcoms, there is a universality to the comedy that means it could change location. There are horrible people (and bars) in every city in every country. And there are plenty of shows that belong to a certain locale: Still Game is a very Glaswegian show, Cheers is definitely Bostonian, and errr… Two Pints of Lager was based in Runcorn. However, although the location informs a lot of the humour in all of those shows, they can all be enjoyed by people not familiar with those specific places. And hey, if a typically British sitcom like The Office can be adapted successfully in America, why not the other way around? Surely the comedy landscape that produced pitch black shows like The League Of Gentlemen, Nighty Night, and Peep Show could make a decent fist of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.
Anyway, IASIP has been on the air for so long that it’s strange to think just how young the cast was when it started. Because of that I’ve chosen actors around the age of thirty (with one exception) and have gone for people mostly working on TV rather than film (again, with one exception). The show works because of the relatively low profile of the actors. I also wanted to stay away from casting existing combinations of people. Yes, The Inbetweeners growing up, owing a pub together, and slowly sliding into lunacy would work very well, but it’s not what I want to do here. Although it wasn’t an explicit intention, I’ve tended to cast against type, as I like the idea of a viewer entering the world of It’s Always Sunny because they like that nice actor from a certain show. Also, I always get the feeling that actors would love to be able to cut loose in a show like this. And yes, Frank Reynolds is in it from the beginning. So, lets get to it:
Dennis Reynolds (Glen Howerton) to be played by… JAMES NORTON
Nominally the leader of the Gang, Dennis is a straight up sociopath. He met Mac in high school, and the two of them ended up owning Paddy’s Pub. He thinks of himself as a five star man, but his ego and arrogance (and the Gang) always leads to his downfall. Who better to play him than someone most well known for playing a crime solving Anglican vicar in Grantchester? Norton has also been in Black Mirror (he played Bryce Dallas Howard’s lazy brother in Nosedive) and played a killer in Happy Valley, so I’ve got no qualms about him being able to tap into the darkness. Glen Howerton is a handsome man and James Norton has got that covered as well!
Ronald “Mac” McDonald (Rob McElhenney) to be played by… MICHAEL SOCHA
Mac is Charlie’s childhood friend, and owns the bar Paddy’s Pub with Dennis. He has a bizarre view of his physical and intellectual prowess, appointing himself as security for the bar, because of his supposed combat skills. At one point, he gains (and loses) 70 pounds in a matter of months (McElhenney just thought it would be funny, so he got really fat for one season), is a religious fanatic, and has ongoing issues with his sexuality (for season after season he point blank refuses to admit he is gay, despite the fact it is obvious to everyone). And to be honest, I think this one speaks for itself. Socha’s performance as werewolf Tom in Being Human was full of wide eyed innocence that almost made him a candidate for the Charlie Kelly role. But from his role in This Is England as bully Harvey, I think he has shown enough misplaced anger to be able to get the bubbling rage that Mac (and let’s be honest all of the gang) deal with on a regular basis. My only issue would be if he could master karate like Rob McElhenney obviously has for the role.
Dee Reynolds (Kaitlin Olsen) to be played by… A DEMOISELLE CRANE
Dee Reynolds (Kaitlin Olsen) to be played by… CHARLOTTE RITCHIE
Dee is Dennis’ twin sister, and is constantly picked on by the rest of the Gang. A wannabe actress with a distinct lack of ability, she is the one who tries to escape the surroundings in early seasons, before realising she as trapped as the rest. I really wanted to cast someone from a “nice” show, and Call The Midwife’s Charlotte Ritchie was perfect. Her role in Siblings treads into some darkish territory, and Fresh Meat was another comedic success for her. Sweet Dee is a pretty thankless role in It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, being the last resort, fallback butt of any joke the gang want to make, but Ritchie would give plenty back to the boys. And it’s funny because she sort of looks like a bird! Julia Davis would be perfect in this role about a decade ago, but I’d definitely have her in the show as a guest star.
Charlie Kelly (Charlie Day) to be played by… MATHEW BAYNTON
Charlie is the most put upon member of the Gang when it comes to “work”, and lives a terrible life, as we see when Dee stays with him. As the episode “Charlie Work” showed though, he is quite content with his lot. It’s the role I had the most trouble with, and my problem came from wanting to cast someone with musical ability to replace Charlie Day. Matthew Baynton’s Horrible History roles show he has got the talent, so I strayed from my 30 year old policy. Charlie’s innocent weirdness shouldn’t be a problem, and The Wrong Mans proved he can roll deep.
(I considered Peep Show’s Isy Suttie for this role, but I think Baynton is just a better fit)
Frank Reynolds (Danny Devito) to be played by… ROWAN ATKINSON
Frank Reynolds is Dennis and Dee’s father, a successful business man who realises he doesn’t have many years left to live and decides to get “real weird with it”, and decides to live in squalor with Charlie. Danny DeVito’s arrival in the second season of IASIP was the final piece of the puzzle, and like Adam Scott and Rob Lowe joining Parks and Recreation, it’s strange to try and remember the show without them. Rowan Atkinson is a highly skilled actor, and I think it would be a great piece of casting against type for him to take on the depraved lunacy of Frank Reynolds.
Rickety Cricket (David Hornsby) to be played by… RUSSELL TOVEY
As a supporting role I gave myself a bit more leeway with the age (and especially since his physical appearance changes so much), but I think Russell Tovey would be great to see take more and more abuse from the Gang. Starting off as a fresh faced priest, Cricket gives up the priesthood for Dee only to end up a homeless, disfigured, crack addict prostitute.
The Waitress (Mary Elizabeth Ellis) to be played by… KIMBERLEY NIXON
I think Kimberley Nixon would bring an air of bafflement to proceedings as the subject of Charlie’s romantic intentions. Fresh Meat and Hebburn both proved she has got comedic talent. Only a small role in the grand scheme of things, The Waitress does have a few important plots and subplots as the show progresses, so Nixon wouldn’t be totally wasted
The McPoyles (Jimmi Simpson, Nate Mooney, Thesy Surface) to be played by… ANT MCPARTLIN, DECLAN DONNELLY, and CAT DEELEY
The term is “stunt casting”! Who wouldn’t want to see this SMTV reunion? They’ve talked about it, but I’m making it happen! Ant and Dec could be the bizarre McPoyle twins, and Deeley join them later, as the… very close McPoyle family who become enemies of the Gang. Their role has been reduced (due to Jimmi Simpson becoming a bonafide star, leading to his role in Westworld) so I’m sure we could fit it into their schedule.
Artemis Dubois (Artemis Pebdani) to be played by… LIZ WHITE
Artemis is the closest thing Sweet Dee has to a friend, and it seems to be that their relationship is built solely on going to the same drama school together. She is also the closest thing to a “voice of reason” in a lot of the Gang’s plots. Liz White was fantastic in Life on Mars and I want to give her more exposure!
And so that is my cast! Who have I got wrong and who have I got right? Got any ideas on any different nationalities that could make a new version?
Until next time, stay gold Ponyboy, stay gold. See you soonish.
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