Credits: The War of the Roses, Matilda
DANNY DeVITO is one of the entertainment industry’s most versatile players, excelling as actor, producer and director.
The award-winning performance as Louie De Palma on the television show Taxi was what propelled DeVito to national prominence. He won both an Emmy and a Golden Globe. In a 1999 readers’ poll conducted by TV Guide, DeVito’s Louie De Palma was voted number one among “TV’s Fifty Greatest Character’s Ever.”
On television, he was most recently seen in a guest role in Netflix’ The Kominsky Method.
In 2018 he returned as Frank Reynolds in FXX’s acclaimed cult comedy It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, for its thirteenth season. He will film season fourteen this year. DeVito has been reunited with director Tim Burton for Dumbo, in theaters now. He will subsequently been seen in the highly anticipated Untitled Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle Sequel set for a December 2019 release. The next movie DeVito will film is a role in the biopic Harry Haft, directed by Barry Levinson.
In 2016, he was seen in Sony Classics’ The Comedian, with Robert De Niro and Leslie Mann, directed by Taylor Hackford. DeVito directed, starred in and co-produced short film Curmudgeons, which premiered at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival and was later seen at the 2016 Seattle Film Festival and 2016 London Film Festival.The same year, De Vito also co-starred in the Todd Solondz’ dark comedy Wiener-Dog.
DeVito will be heard voicing the character Bob for Walt Disney Pictures The One and Only Ivan in 2020. In 2018, he was heard voicing Dorgle in Warner Bros.’ animated Smallfoot. Other recently voiced characters include the Lorax in Universal Pictures’ animated feature The Lorax, based on the book of the same name by Dr. Seuss. His voice was also heard in the German, Russian, Spanish and Italian versions of the film.
In 2012, DeVito and Richard Griffiths received rave reviews in the London stage revival of Neil Simon’s comedy The Sunshine Boys. The following year, DeVito reprised his critically acclaimed role together with former Taxi co-star Judd Hirsch in Los Angeles. DeVito made his Broadway debut in 2017 in Arthur Miller’s The Price in the role of Gregory Solomon, earning him his first Tony Award nomination. He won a Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Circle Award and Broadway.com Audience Choice Award for the role.
In 2015, DeVito was executive producer on the biographical documentary Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story. In 2014, he co-produced Universal Pictures’ crime drama A Walk Among the Tombstones and starred in All The Wilderness. In 2012, DeVito starred in Sebastian Gutierrez’s black and white crime drama, Hotel Noir.
Throughout his career, DeVito has directed more than 25 projects, including Matilda, Death To Smoochy, The War of the Roses, Hoffa, Throw Momma From the Train, The Ratings Game and numerous short films, TV movies and episodes of television, including Taxi. He is also the principal of Jersey Film’s 2nd Avenue, a successor company of Jersey Films. Jersey Films has produced over 20 motion pictures, including Freedom Writers, Be Cool, Garden State, Along Came Polly, Man on the Moon, Pulp Fiction, Out of Sight, Get Shorty, Hoffa, Matilda, Living Out Loud and Erin Brockovich, which was nominated for an Academy Award.
Apart from his work with Jersey Films, DeVito has starred in such films as The War of the Roses, Junior, Batman Returns, Twins, Romancing the Stone, Jewel of the Nile, Ruthless People, Throw Momma From the Train, Tin Men, Anything Else, Big Fish, Renaissance Man, The Big Kahuna and Heist.
He also starred in The Good Night, Deck The Halls, Relative Strangers, The OH in Ohio, Be Cool, Nobel Son and Even Money.
DeVito attended Our Lady of Mt. Carmel grammar school and Oratory Prep School in Summit, N.J., but appeared in only one school play, as St. Francis of Assisi. After graduation, he pursued several odd jobs, always with the idea of acting in the back of his mind. He finally entered the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. “They had fencing and a speech class,” he said mockingly, “So you don’t talk funny.” Unable to get work, Danny bought a round-trip ticket and headed to Hollywood. After years of unemployment, he returned to New York. He called an old friend and former American Academy professor who, coincidentally, had been seeking him out for a starring role in one of three one-act plays presented together under the title of The Man With the Flower in His Mouth. Soon Danny was into big money ($60 a week), and other stage performances followed.
Among his credits were Down the Morning Line, The Line of Least Existence, The Shrinking Bride and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. In 1975, under a grant from the American Film Institute, Danny and his wife, actress Rhea Perlman, wrote and produced Minestrone, which has been shown twice at the Cannes Film Festival and has been translated into five languages. Later they wrote and produced a 16-millimetre black-and-white short subject, The Sound Sleeper, which won first prize at the Brooklyn Arts and Cultural Association competition.
In 2018, the mayor of Asbury Park, NJ — the town in which he was raised — declared November 17 (DeVito’s birthday) as Danny DeVito Day in the city of Asbury Park, in perpetuity.
DeVito carries his success well. Never forgetting that there were more difficult times, he maintains a healthy sense of perspective. As Taxi character Louie DePalma, would say, “If you don’t do good today, you’ll be eatin’ dirt tomorrow.”