Charlie Day is known for his impeccable comedic timing and classic one-liners in the hit FX series, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. You can expect the same amount of laughter and knee-slapping moments in his upcoming feature Fist Fight.
Screen Rant caught up with Charlie Day at the film's L.A. press day to discuss his most memorable teacher story, creepy fan gifts, and the risk he took that changed the course of his life.
Awesome film, loved it!
Charlie Day: Did you laugh?
I did it was hysterical.
Charlie: That's the main thing.
You guys were great. Do you have any memorable teacher stories? Growing up is there a specific teacher, either good or bad memory that sticks out?
Charlie Day: I did have a teacher who is like Ice Cube's teacher he was a gym teacher I think it was either seventh or eighth grade. And I was probably goofing off or I think in this particular case I wasn't doing anything but it was fair enough for him to send me out because I usually was fooling around. He gets pissed off and he goes, “Day! In my office!” And so I go in his office and he looks at me and goes, “You know you’re a little punk. And one day you're gonna get your teeth knocked out in the back of your throat.” He's like, “and I might do it right now” and he's like, “don't act out my class anymore.” And I never did.
Oh! Were you the class clown?
Charlie Day: Yeah, so I was probably just trying to make somebody laugh. And he set me straight.
That is the scariest thing when teachers say that.
Charlie Day: Yeah, yeah, he snapped. And he threatened to punch me but you know, look it's fine.
As far as comedy, has that always been your niche?
Charlie Day: No when I first started acting I was going to like this theater festival called the Williamstown Theater Festival and then moved to New York and I was only getting parts on Law and Order and this cops and firemen show called Third Watch and I was always playing like a junkie or an informant and I couldn't get casted in comedies. I would come close to these TV comedy shows but I couldn't get cast in it. But I didn't just want to do comedy; I just wanted to be an actor. But then when me and Rob and Glenn when we made It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia that kind of changed everything because it was such a funny show, and it's been on for so long it led to comedy roles in movies.
Right, people associate you with that.
Charlie Day: But look I love doing comedy so I'm happy to do it.
Do you want to pursue a drama or an action film?
Charlie Day: Yeah I think so. I want to do it all. I want to do it all because I just like doing it. I also get that out of even the comedy movies, like for me [Fist Fight].
Yeah they're still action and fight scenes.
Charlie Day: Yeah I had a fight sequence, right? I'm fairly a straight man through the first half of the movie surrounded by Tracy and Jillian and all these crazy people and then I get to slowly unravel, so sometimes I get all those elements even out of a comedic movie.
Absolutely. You gave an amazing commencement speech at your alma mater Merrimack College. And in that you had some great points it was hysterical but in that you touched on fearlessness, and you also touched on the story where you had the option to either go with Sunny or your big network show. And you chose Sunny. I want to talk about or explore what was that thing in you, was that your intuition or gut feeling, God whatever you want to call it, what was that thing in you that pushed you towards the greater risk?
Charlie Day: In that particular choice in deciding to stick with Sunny?
Yeah because you can call that one of many forks in the road.
Charlie Day: I guess it's intuition isn't it? Right? I think it was a combination of belief in my own ability but also belief in the people I surrounded myself with. Also I liked the potential of the thing that we were going to do ourselves more than I like the potential of the thing that someone else was doing. So it was sort of the pivotal moment of my life where I thought me personally, not everyone has to be this way, but I personally was more inspired by having more creative control over something and having something to say with a television show and being the engine of those messages if you could find them. Versus being somebody else's piece of the puzzle and so I think that's what pushed me in that direction.
It's hard though when you have a paycheck and everything laid out and then you go from that to doing something on your own dime but it's a passion project and you believe it.
Charlie Day: And it was really hard because I didn't have any money at the time (laughs).
Well, when you're starting out, of course! Who are some of your favorite comedic duos?
Charlie Day: Comedic duos, I mean I like John Candy and Steve Martin when they're together. Oh Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor. I love that duo. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler I think it's one of my favorite duos up there.
Are you a Chris Farley and David Spade fan?
Charlie Day: Yeah I love Chris Farley and David spade there's some chemistry there. And will Ferrell and John C. Reilly. They're a good team.
Oh yeah, Stepbrothers!
Charlie Day: There's so many but do it is tricky but I'm just a fan of so many different people's comedy.
What can you tell me about Pacific Rim: Uprising?
Charlie Day: I can tell you that it's filming. I was in Australia yesterday so I just flew in and I get to go back. I can tell you were shooting part of it in Sydney and we're shooting part of it in China, which is going to be exciting. And that there's an interesting cast, it's a global cast. The American cast and there's a lot of Chinese cast, Korean actors, Australian, and so that's kind of exciting. In terms of the storyline, I don't think I can legally tell you.
I was going to ask what your character has been up to since.
Charlie Day: I don't think I can tell you yet. They can't shoot me yet but as soon as we finish filming yeah they will crush me.
That's alright! I get it. There's a lot at stake.
What is the creepiest or the best fan gift you've ever received?
Charlie Day: I will give you the creepiest. I got a random package to my house, I don't know how that person got that address. Inside the package was like a shirt or something but on the inside of the package there had been the scribbling just like a madman scribbling just everywhere. Like I don't know if they were going for like I have Charlie from Sonny's dream book kind of drawings or if it was just a mad man’s drawing.
The drawing was of you?
Charlie Day: No it was kind of, I couldn't make it out. It was kind of Patrick Bateman he like, yeah it was like these are the drawings of an ill person.
(Laughs) I get it. Where they supposed to send it to your agent? But somehow they got your address?
Charlie Day: They are supposed to not send it at all I think. I don't need anything. I've got plenty. Please no gifts.
No gifts got it! Your son is five now?
Charlie Day: He's five now.
Is he starting to catch on and understand OK dad is a big deal or as a toddler when is when he's in the car does he see your billboard?
Charlie Day: Occasionally, occasionally. He'll see me on a billboard or poster or something but I think maybe I'm lucky to have been on them since I was born so it's not abnormal to him right? And he's also look at in Hollywood so maybe other kids dads or moms are on billboards too so maybe it's normal for him but he's not aware of it yet I don't think he's aware of it yet he still too young.
In your speech you said having a Plan B can but if your Plan A and I really resonated with that because it's so important that people are telling you it's scary enough to pursue your dream let alone having people say so if and when you fail what are you gonna do? Did you ever come close to creating a Plan B or did you actually have one in the back of your head you just never thought of pursuing it?
Charlie Day: Oh, no I didn't. I mean I kind of believe that philosophy which is that just having a Plan B is saying well I don't think this is gonna work out for me right? So just work on plan A and then if it doesn't work out then you're on to Plan B but guess what Plan B is now become Plan A so there's never a Plan B.
I always say if you have a Plan B you're going to do that because it's that easy option if the fallback and then you end up regretting it.
Charlie Day: I know it's so hard to take big risks. And I'm still afraid to do them, half the time I have to tell myself to do them.
If you have one piece of advice for upcoming actors or comedians what would it be?
Charlie Day: I'd say learn how to make your own stuff. Learn how to write your own stuff learn how to film your own stuff it's so easy now to film anything if you have a phone you can do it. And just practice it. And get better at it. Because it's all we're doing is filming something so if you get good at it and then you won't have to wait for someone to give you a job you know? They'll come to you and say hey can you make something for me so we can make money.
And you are the example of that -
Charlie Day: Yeah that's what Sunny is! Yeah that's how it worked.
Thank you so much I appreciate it.
Charlie Day: Thank you!
- Fist Fight (2017) release date: Feb 17, 2017