Rob McElhenney on getting fit: my wife felt like I was trying too hard

Rob McElhenney who created and stars in both Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Apple TV+’s Mythic Quest, covers the May issue of Men’s Health. Rob is not your typical gym rat and like some of his famous friends like Kumail Nanjiani, he came to body building later in his career. Obviously, the interview is mostly about fitness, given it’s in Men’s Health. But it’s not your standard interview because Rob’s whole physical transformation has been more of an educational journey for him. He said when he first decided to get ripped, it was so he could properly make fun of people who do so on Always Sunny. Since then, his physical goals change according to how he wants to challenge himself. But when he goes too hard, his wife and Sunny co-star, Kaitlin Olson, calls him out on it.

Rob McElhenney says that men seem to care more than women do about his physique.

“[The] people who were most fascinated by my body when I was in great shape were dudes. Women could give two s—-,” McElhenney told interviewer Ryan Reynolds for the May issue of Men’s Health. “In fact, my wife really was displeased with the way I looked, because she felt like I was trying too hard, and I was.”

McElhenney, 44, who is married to Always Sunny costar Kaitlin Olson, continued, “There’s this fascination that men want to look like that and men want to be that aesthetically pleasing to other men. I’m actually talking about straight men as much as men in the gay community. It’s interesting that it’s not based in sexuality or sex appeal and more about this body image that we’ve sort of grown accustomed to. It’s the thing people find fascinating, because it relates to their lives.”

“So much of it is wrapped up in health,” he added, “but also aesthetics and sex and all sorts of things that make us human, and it’s something we’re all grappling with in different ways every day.”

“I don’t want to cry foul too much, because women have been held to a very difficult and specific standard for so long and continue to be, and men have had the benefit of not being held to such a stringent standard, aesthetically at least,” he said.

“However, I will say — and I hear this from a lot of men, and I think it’s a little bit less taboo to talk about — that men, too, are held to a standard of masculinity that’s impossible to live up to or is probably essentially unethical to live up to: that sort of quiet, masculine tough guy who’s both jacked and ready to throw down at any moment but also sensitive — but not too sensitive.”

McElhenney, who is expanding his comedic talents with the Apple TV+ series Mythic Quest, which he created and stars in, said that he feels the pressure in Hollywood to have a fit physique.

“And aesthetically, the superhero stuff hasn’t helped,” McElhenney said. “We now have this ideal of being the biggest dude or the most ripped guy in the room.”

[From People]

Rob’s full interview is quite interesting, particularly because I haven’t heard such an intellectually curious approach to fitness. I used the People except because they pulled the parts I wanted to discuss in a nice excerpt, but you can read his full interview here. What’s not mentioned above is the interview is Rob and Ryan Reynolds own the Welsh football team, Wrexham A.F.C., together. I understand what Rob’s saying about the masculine ideal. Once a man gets ripped, he is expected to stay that way. He said that he doesn’t keep his peak physique because it’s not sustainable for him. He doesn’t like depriving himself and he doesn’t want to have to work that hard to maintain his form. Rob also brings up being heavier and losing a bunch of weight quickly. I was confused because I’d never seen him as anything but fit but apparently he put on 50 pounds about ten years ago to write about it for Sunny.

I have tried to watch Sunny a few times and cannot seem to get into it. I do, however, love every member of the cast and I have gotten into all their other shows. I guess I’ll have to try it once more. We talk a lot about Ted Lasso here (rightly so, it’s wonderful) but, if you haven’t seen Mythic Quest, do yourself a favor and watch it. Honestly, Mythic and Ted were the best shows I watched last year. I talked about it in a post early in quarantine about TV shows to binge. My husband, who worked in the video game industry, found it such an accurate portrayal that it gives him flashbacks. Season two starts May 7.


Photo credit: Instagram and Avalon

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37 Responses to “Rob McElhenney on getting fit: my wife felt like I was trying too hard”

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  1. Darla says:

    I hate Always Sunny. It’s such a mean show with no one to root for. I tried but I gave up early on.

    I can’t help finding it so funny how many times I see men mention the superhero thing. Oh, Rob Pattison comes to mind. Women have had to diet and exercise and really, starve, forever in that industry (and not just there). But along comes Thor and everyone cries foul.

    I laugh.

    • Eenie Googles says:

      That’s the point of the show. That they are terrible people and they always come in last.

      • SlipperyPeople says:

        Exactly. They are supposed to be awful. It reminds me a little of the characters on Cheers and Seinfeld. I don’t like when sitcoms get too schmaltzy. But I can see why people don’t like it. It took me a while to appreciate it, and once I did, I became a Stan.

      • Grey says:

        We just started watching it again on Disney+… I feel like this show is what Cards Against Humanity would be if it was a person. Haha.

    • whatWHAT? says:

      yeah, as noted, that’s the whole point. They are really terrible so you can laugh and not feel bad when bad stuff happens to them.

      Charlie…Charlie I can actually root for sometimes because he’s seemingly not COMPLETELY terrible and often seems to be manipulated to go along with what the rest of “the Gang” does.

    • MF1 says:

      @Darla, that irritates me too. Sure, it sucks that men feel like they have to look like Thor, but to build that kind of muscle, you have to eat a lot. Women are expected to straight up starve themselves.

      • Kate says:

        I’m pretty sure to get that ripped ab look men have to eat like steamed chicken breast and air. I’ve heard other actors talk candidly about how strict their diets get before photo or movie shoots.

  2. OliveFull says:

    I love IASIP, the cast is so good at playing just the worst people imaginable. Danny DeVito is game for anything and I always wonder what ridiculous scenario they’ll have him in. It’s not for everyone though, I’m glad the cast has branched out and I will check out Mythic Quest.

    • Mc says:

      Danny Devito is just the best. I love always sunny.

    • Lucy2 says:

      The addition of Devito was one of the best moves in television history!
      I love the show, and don’t know that I’ve ever laughed harder than the water park episode.
      It’s one that I keep thinking I should rewatch the series at some point, because it’s been on forever and I’m sure I forgotten a lot of hilarious stuff.

      Rob looks really good, but I can totally see his wife being sick if it. So many people who get super into fitness like that become a bit obsessive.

      • DeeSea says:

        The water park ep is SO GOOD. I would also put the skiing ep right up there with it. And now I’m thinking of all the other great eps… I did a full rewatch of IASIP during the pandemic, and it held up even more than I’d expected it to. It was the cathartic highlight of My Pandemic Year.

      • FancyPants says:

        The water park episode was great, but I think the one where they go to the Jersey Shore is #1!

  3. manda says:

    My husband likes It’s Always Sunny and I can handle some of the eps, but usually it’s just too much. (the crack episode from like the first season was pretty funny, and there is a funny one where dee is trying to get to a josh groban concert). But it can definitely be mean and/or cringe worthy, and I would say it’s not for bingeing

    I was going to say I remember Rob got super fat for one season, I can’t believe it was just 50 pounds, but it was pretty much all in his belly, and then he got super jacked, and my husband and I have talked about how he has really done a lot for that show. We watched Mythic Quest and it was good–but I LOVED their quarantine episode. It literally made me both laugh and cry. It was so good. I feel it was the best of the weird quarantine zoom shows

  4. Aang says:

    Our whole family enjoys It’s Always Sunny. Once my kids got older we started the tradition of watching the Christmas episode on Christmas Eve. My son works out a lot now and I kid him about his glamour muscles (a joke from Mac’s fitness story arch.) I’ll have to send him the link to this article.

  5. Pix22 says:

    Mythic Quest is so hilarious. I was shocked to see how ripped he was because he was always just regular guy or his character a jabroni? (I still love that word!) I watched the first few season of It’s Always Sunny and loved it, but then stopped when I had a baby. Some shows don’t make the transition.

  6. Lou says:

    Sunny is such a great show, and Rob is so good in it!

  7. Fani says:

    In regards to IASIP, you might like the S11E04 episode “Dee Made a Smut Film”.
    It’s not what it sounds like, Richard Grieco is in it, and the episode is a comment on the modern art world.
    DeVito is quite delightful in it.
    Alternately, there is an episode that Rob got jacked for, because he did an incredible dance routine in it – S13 E10 · Mac Finds His Pride. It’s a very moving episode.

    • KNy says:

      The Mac Finds His Pride episode was so beautiful! I remember watching it and going, “Why am I crying watching an IASIP episode?!” And Ongo Gablogian! Maybe when the world is normal I will go as Ongo on Halloween.

  8. Karebear says:

    Try “Hundred Dollar Baby” and if you don’t like that episode, you probably won’t like any of them. I find it hilarious. I agree with another reviewer who said that the point is that they are all terrible! And they can never win because of that. I find that comforting.

  9. Lisa says:

    Omg! I love Sunny! Half our sayings come from that in my house. For example, when neither husband nor I want to clean up a puppy mess, we exclaim “that’s Charlie work!” Give it another go. To echo an earlier statement, yes, they are all morally corrupt characters, but they never come out ahead. Ever.

  10. Sandra says:

    I’ve been rewatching Always Sunny and oh my god Season 4. What a perfect season of television. Day Man, The Gang Cracks the Liberty Bell, “Who’s Carol?”

    • AMA1977 says:

      We’ve started watching it (since we have watched everything else under the sun and some things twice.) My husband had already seen most of it, but I’d never seen a whole episode, and while some episodes are on the line of too much for me, overall it really is just hilarious. They’re SO AWFUL. Every time I start thinking one character isn’t so bad, along comes an episode where they’re THE WORST. My husband and I sing “Dayman” (usually just the ah-AH-ahhhhhh part) constantly. It’s so, so, so funny. They all just embrace their characters’ terribleness and have a great time doing it.

  11. Stacy Dresden says:

    Love Sunny! So unique and hilarious. Danny Devito is a national treasure. Eye roll to men discovering pressure to look a certain way.

  12. elle says:

    That Instagram photo is giving me secondhand embarrassment.

  13. carousel says:

    Sunny is definitely not for everyone and I’d never put someone down for not being into it. The humor is abrasive and absurd and absurdly abrasive. That being said, it is truly one of my favorite shows of the past two decades. It’s a rare show that goes 10+ seasons without a significant dip in quality.

  14. FancyHat says:

    So much secondhand embarrassment.

    I am one of those people that doesn’t like IASIP. Love Seinfeld and Veep but can’t get into this show

  15. Dillesca says:

    I love IASIP and really appreciate its evolution over time. On the whole, I think they try to make comedy responsibly. Season 13 really stands out for their taking on current issues in fresh, interesting ways. I especially love their willingness to play with form and reality– for example, S13 E7 is hands down THE BEST clips episode of a sitcom. Anyway, I appreciate Rob McElhenney’s interview. I think his observations ring true.

  16. Faye G says:

    I absolutely love Always Sunny, but admit it took me several tries to really get into it. The characters are terrible and it’s so much fun to laugh at their schemes and machinations, while feeling an occasional pain of sympathy for Charlie. I haven’t heard of these other shows but I am willing to give them a try, I’ve been needing some comedies to drown out all the bad news in the world lately.

  17. OriginalLala says:

    We LOVE Sunny in our home!! a few friends and I learned all the songs to The Nightman Cometh and like to day drink and re-enact it in costumes in our backyard… “Dayman” is my cell’s ringtone lol

  18. Dierski says:

    Love Sunny!! I agree it may not appeal to everyone, but for me and mine, we find it hysterical.

  19. Daneen says:

    I grew up with and went to school with Rob. We did theater together and I was close friends with his sister. He was and continues to be so nice, down to earth and genuine. I love how humble he still is and how he never forgets his Philly roots. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is my type of humor, so I think it’s hilarious. I haven’t seen Mythic Quest yet but may check it out.

  20. Bethan says:

    Love always sunny. We lived right behind the bar he opened up in old city, Philadelphia and would go there all the time.
    The suburbs one with Matt and Dennis has gotta be my fave, but so many to pick from.

  21. Hell Nah! says:


    I don’t know anything about this guy but in that first photo with his mouth hanging open…he looks like a vacuous piece of man-meat. And no, I don’t mean that to be complimentary in any way.


  22. Kate says:

    I don’t know if it’s because I’m from outside Philadelphia and have seen these types of philly people first hand when living in Philadelphia for years but I find it absolutely hysterical and spot on. Charlie is my favorite hands down

  23. Juju says:

    As someone who has been in this fitness and bodybuilding world for over 10 years, getting hte kind of fit he did has nothing to do with health. It has to do with appearance but certainly not with health. Unfortunately, people think it does.