Kaitlin Olson ’97

UO alumna and star of the hit show “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” shares stories of her days in rainy Eugene

By UO student Chelsea Fullmer

While their luggage never left LAX, Kaitlin Olson ’97 and Rob McElhenney of the hit show, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” recently returned to the UO for a question and answer session with students in November. “It’s Always Sunny in Eugene” brought the famous alumna back to campus with her husband, the creator and co-star of FX’s raunchy comedy.

Backstage before the Q&A session with the Emerald on November 15, Olson recalled her days as a UO student. Olson’s father Donald ’71, who graduated from the UO School of Journalism and Communication and went on to publish the Portland Tribune, was influential in Olson’s decision to attend the UO.

“I also was a very shy kid,” said Olson, who earned her bachelor’s degree in theater arts from the College of Arts and Sciences. “I didn’t really want to leave home but I kind of wanted to, so this was only two hours away. And they had a good theater program so I went with it, and it was a beautiful campus and is a great college.”

Olson remembered plenty of stories from her days as a student, including getting her fake ID taken away at Rennie’s Landing and sliding through mud by Villard Hall her first time on rollerblades.

“We were rollerblading and I was going way too fast, just way too fast,” Olson recalled. “And down at the bottom was a building and I was like, ‘I’m going to crash into that so I gotta go over into the grass,’ thinking that the grass would stop me. The grass was mud and I just Supermanned for probably the entire rest of the way down to the building. I’m telling you, when I say covered in mud, like mud, mud everywhere.”

Kaitlin (far right) with husband Rob
McElhenney (left) and parents Melinda Olson
and Donald Olson ’71.

After graduation, Olson moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting professionally and spent time at The Groundlings Theatre in Hollywood. She landed recurring roles on “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “The Drew Carey Show” and “Kelsey Grammer Presents: The Sketch Show.” She also had stints on “Punk’d,” “The Jamie Kennedy Experience” and “Out of Practice”before she was cast as Deandra “Sweet Dee” Reynolds on “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” in 2005.

Olson and McElhenney – actor, creator, producer, writer and director of the show – got engaged in September 2007 and married a year later. They have two sons, Axel, 3, and Leo, 1.  The show, which co-stars Glenn Howerton, Charlie Day and Danny DeVito, just finished its ninth season on FX and celebrated its 100th episode Oct. 9.

Of her castmates, Olson says, “We’ve been working together for nine years now, which is crazy, and I think they are some of the smartest, most talented people I’ve ever met in my life, and that’s true.  And I just feel really lucky to have found them because they’re wonderful people. We’re really fortunate that we like each other and that we’re doing something that’s funny and makes us laugh because it’s entertaining and it keeps us going.”

The show has been picked up for a 10th season but is likely to end in 2014. In the meantime, the two stars who support the UO, remain busy as parents and actors.