The Devil, Bernie, and Bollywood: A Conversation With Danny DeVito

Am I catching you in the middle of any productions or just full little demon push?

Right now, no. We’re in the middle of preparing our little demon shows. I love working with the demons. Lucy, Jake, and I call the creators, Kieran [Valla], Darcy [Fowler]and Seth [Kirschner], the demons. And they’re young and great.

Outside of the family aspect, what made you want to play the devil?

Well, Lucy and Jake called me. We’d been looking for stuff to do, and she had these friends from the theater in New York who had an idea for a show, and they pitched it to me. And it turns out that Lucy was going to play the Antichrist, and they said, “You are a shoe-in as the devil.” [Laughs] And I said, “Yeah, man!”

By the way, playing the devil is a really great thing, because the idea is that the devil has his problems in his realms. What’s-his-name kicked him out of heaven, and there are so many intricate monster, beast challengers. He’s got friends that make Tony Soprano look like a choir boy. And so this guy has got a lot of hurdles. I’m a little rough around the edges, a little crude, and I’ve got a lot of learning to do, but I’ve got a business to run. And I need my daughter. I only get her her every other weekend, but I’m not a deadbeat dad—I’m doing my best her!

We’ve already seen so many versions of the devil in pop culture. How did you go about differentiating your guy?

I wanted to make it like he’s good, he’s nice, likable. I mean, he’s extreme, runs the show, but he takes care of his people. So there’s a little mwah-ha-ha in it. But people have always blown that up out of proportion when it comes to the devil. Look at yourself! You want to see a devil? Look in the mirror, baby! [Laughs] Well, let’s not get too Lee Strasberg here, but why not?

You’ve had so many memorable voice credits: Space Jam, Hercules, Look Who’s Talking. Do you think there’s something specific about your voice that resonates with people?

And I did The Lorax! That was so much fun. Philoctetes in Disney’s Hercules, that was the best, I got to sing a song. It’s really interesting. I’ve always had this thing about my voice where, if you were in the back room getting dressed to go out and a bunch of friends walked in and said, “Yo, I’m here,” I’m the one they go , “Hey, Danny!” Even if they haven’t seen me, they know the voice.

And a lot of it’s got to do with the accent. I have a Brooklyn accent because my father is from Brooklyn, but I also have a Jersey accent because I was born in New Jersey. And then when you go do It’s Always Sunny, you talk a little bit more like the Philadelphia people, which is kind of like the Baltimore people. I just did a movie, The Poolman, with Chris Pine—he’s directing and starring in it. I was doing some monologue, and he says, “You’re starting to sound British.” I was like, “What the fuck do you want from me? [British accent] It’s not British. [Baltimore accent] It’s from Baltimore, I’m from down the shore. [Jersey accent] I’m from New Jersey!” Anyway, it was funny.

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