Robert McElhenney III
April 14, 1977
Robert McElhenney III (born April 14, 1977) is an American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter. He is known for playing Ronald "Mac" McDonald on the FX/FXX comedy series It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005–present). He is also one of the developers, executive producers, and the creator of the show, which has provided him with writing and directing credits for various episodes. He is also known for playing Ian Grimm on the Apple TV+ comedy series Mythic Quest (2020–present). He also created the series and serves as a writer and executive producer.
McElhenney was born in Philadelphia, the eldest of three children. Both of his parents are of Irish descent. He was raised Roman Catholic. When he was eight years old, his parents divorced after his mother came out as a lesbian. McElhenney was primarily raised by his father, but has said that his parents remained close after their divorce. McElhenney also has two brothers who are gay, and has "always been part of the gay community". Through his father's subsequent marriage, he also has a half-sister and stepsister. One of his closest friends, Joseph Dougherty Jr. of Delaware County, suggested the idea for what later would become It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia.
He attended Saint Joseph's Preparatory School in Philadelphia. After graduating, he attended Temple University. McElhenney moved to New York City, temporarily living on the Fordham University campus with friends, but chose not to enroll.
McElhenney scored his first major role with a small part in The Devil's Own, followed by small parts in A Civil Action, Wonder Boys, and Thirteen Conversations About One Thing, though his role in The Devil's Own was cut out of the final edit. He later had more substantial parts in Latter Days and The Tollbooth, and a small role in the Law & Order episode "Thrill". At the age of 21, a debut script by McElhenney was optioned with writer-director Paul Schrader attached to direct, before the project fell through after one year of edits and rewrites.
Initially based in New York City after his graduation from high school, McElhenney moved to Los Angeles at the age of 25. In 2004, McElhenney was waiting tables between acting jobs, and had met Glenn Howerton through his agent, and Charlie Day in New York while shooting a horror film. His idea for a sitcom, starring himself, Howerton and Day, was filmed on a budget of $200 and pitched to many cable networks. After receiving offers from many of the stations, McElhenney chose to sign with FX as they allowed him more creative freedom. McElhenney was contracted as It's Always Sunny's showrunner, and both Howerton and Day were listed as executive producers.
McElhenney claims that 50 weeks of each year are consumed by acting, producing, and writing for the show, but he did find time to appear in the third season of Lost in the episode "Not in Portland". This was a result of McElhenney meeting Lost co-creator and executive producer Damon Lindelof, who is a fan of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. McElhenney continued the role in Lost, featured again in the sixth season for a single episode. McElhenney is a fan of Game of Thrones and was thrilled that the series' writers, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, asked to write an episode of It's Always Sunny. He and his co-producers accepted the offer, resulting in the Season 9 episode "Flowers for Charlie" in 2013. In 2019, McElhenney made a cameo appearance as an extra in the Season 8 premiere episode "Winterfell".
In 2017, he appeared as a guest in the acclaimed Fargo episode "The Law of Non-Contradiction". He received praise for his performance from critics, who saw his character as a reference to It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
In 2020, he co-created the comedy series Mythic Quest alongside Charlie Day and Megan Ganz which has aired two season on Apple TV+. He also portrays Ian Grimm on the show and serves as a writer and executive producer. The series has received critical acclaim with the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes giving the series an 89% approval rating with its critical consensus reading, "While it relies too heavily on the workplace comedy formula, Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet is nonetheless hilarious and stands out for exploring the gaming industry with intelligence, thoughtfulness, and sincerity."
On September 23, 2020, it was announced by the Wrexham Supporters Trust that a business partnership consisting of McElhenney and fellow actor Ryan Reynolds were in talks to purchase Wrexham Association Football Club in Wales.  On November 16, it was confirmed that Reynolds and McElhenney had successfully taken over the club after receiving the backing of the Wrexham Supporters Trust.
Before the first season of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia went into production, McElhenney hired actress Kaitlin Olson to play the role of Dee Reynolds. He became romantically interested in Olson "around season 2" of the series, believing her to be the funniest woman in show business. They were married in California on September 27, 2008.
In 2009, McElhenney and Olson announced their purchase of Skinner's Bar at 226 Market Street in Philadelphia ( They had their first son, Axel Lee McElhenney, on September 1, 2010. Olson went into labor at a Philadelphia Phillies game. The couple's second son, Leo Grey McElhenney, was born on April 5, 2012.). It was renamed Mac's Tavern.
In preparation for the seventh season of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, McElhenney put on 60 lbs of extra weight and let his beard grow out to give extra humor to his character and add a new comedic direction for the season. His co-star Charlie Day described the weight gain as "disgusting" and said that the rest of the cast were "a little on the fence about it for his own personal health and safety". McElhenney subsequently lost 23 lbs in a month after the season was finished filming. He lost more later in the year to film the next season.
In preparation for the thirteenth season, McElhenney similarly transformed his body, though this time becoming extremely fit. McElhenney joked in an Instagram post, "Look, it's not that hard. All you need to do is lift weights six days a week, stop drinking alcohol, don't eat anything after 7pm, don’t eat any carbs or sugar at all, in fact just don't eat anything you like, get the personal trainer from Magic Mike, sleep nine hours a night, run three miles a day, and have a studio pay for the whole thing over a six to seven month span. I don't know why everyone's not doing this. It's a super realistic lifestyle and an appropriate body image to compare oneself to."
Through his father, McElhenney is the first cousin of Olympic medalist, attorney, and activist Marcus N. McElhenney.
|1997||The Devil's Own||Kevin||Scenes deleted|
|1998||A Civil Action||Teenager on property|
|2000||Wonder Boys||Student||Scenes deleted|
|2001||Thirteen Conversations About One Thing||Chris Hammond|
|2002||Long Story Short||Trent|
|2003||Latter Days||Elder Harmon|
|2004||The Tollbooth||Simon Stanton|
|1997||Law & Order||Joey Timon||Episode: "Thrill"|
|2004||ER||Andy Fesh||Episode: "Where There's Smoke"|
|2005–present||It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia||Ronald "Mac" McDonald||Also creator, writer, producer and director|
|2007, 2010||Lost||Aldo||2 episodes|
|2011–2012||How to Be a Gentleman||—||Consulting producer|
|2012||Living Loaded||—||Pilot; also creator and executive producer|
|2014–2017||The Mindy Project||Louis "Lou" Tookers||4 episodes|
|2015||On the Record with Mick Rock.||—||Executive producer|
|2017||Fargo||Officer Oscar Hunt||Episode: "The Law of Non-Contradiction"|
|2018–2019||The Cool Kids||—||Co-executive producer|
|Game of Thrones||Ironborn soldier||Cameo; episode: "Winterfell"|
|2020–present||Mythic Quest||Ian Grimm||Also co-creator, writer, director and executive producer|
|TBA||Welcome to Wrexham||Himself||Docuseries|
|2021||Imagine Dragons||Follow You||Himself|
- McElhenney, Rob (July 9, 2016). "Interview with Rob McElhenney". WTF Podcast (Interview). Interviewed by Marc Maron.
- ""It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia's" Rob McElhenney talks about upcoming "gay marriage" episode". Greg in Holywood magazine. August 7, 2010.
- "'It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia' Season Finale: Rob McElhenney On Keeping The Gang Together For A Shining Season". deadline.com. November 7, 2018.
- ""It's Always Sunny" star Rob McElhenney returns to St. Joe's Prep". Philly.com. Retrieved January 9, 2016.
- "'It's Always Sunny's' Rob McElhenney spoke at St. Joe's Prep today". Philly.com. Retrieved January 9, 2016.
- "Episode 582 - Rob McElhenney". WTF with Marc Maron Podcast.
- "McElhenney interview". Archived from the original on 2007-12-26. Retrieved 2007-11-03.
- Huffington Post, Retrieved January 2, 2015
- "We've chosen a director for the Minecraft movie!". 2015-07-21. Archived from the original on 2015-08-11 – via Wayback Machine.
- "Minecraft Movie Delayed After Rob McElhenney Leaves Project". Destructoid.
- "Gloria heads to Hollywood for a Fargo highpoint". The A.V. Club. May 3, 2017. Retrieved May 6, 2017.
- "'Fargo' Review: Carrie Coon Heads to La La Land in Bananas Episode That Upends Expectations For Year 3". IndieWire. May 3, 2017. Retrieved May 6, 2017.
- "Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet (2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on November 16, 2020. Retrieved February 16, 2020.
- "Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney make shock bid for Wrexham AFC". the Guardian. 2020-09-23. Retrieved 2020-09-24.
- "DONE DEAL: Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney acquire Wrexham AFC". The Non-League Paper. 16 November 2020. Retrieved 16 November 2020.
- "Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney: Hollywood stars to take over Wrexham". BBC Sport. 16 November 2020. Retrieved 16 November 2020.
- "OK! Exclusive: Kaitlin Olson & Rob McElhenney Wed". OK!. 2008-10-01. Retrieved 2008-10-12.
- "Mac and Dee from "Always Sunny" getting into bar business for real | Philadelphia Inquirer | 12/17/2009". Philly.com. 2009-12-17. Retrieved 2011-11-16.
- "Kaitlin Olson, Rob McElhenney Welcome Son Axel Lee". People.com. 2010-09-02. Retrieved 2010-09-02.
- Johnson, Zach. "Meet Kaitlin Olson and Rob McElhenney's Son Leo Grey!". US Weekly. US Magazine. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
- "Fat Mac: Rob McElhenney Goes Into Graphic Detail About 'Sunny' Weight Gain". Reuters. 2011-08-10.
- Maerz, Melissa (2011-09-16). "Rob McElhenney: How To Get Fat for TV". TV Article. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2 November 2011.
- Jussim, Matthew. "'It's Always Sunny' Star Rob McElhenney's Body Transformation Is Insane". Men's Journal. Retrieved 2020-09-23.
- Dos Santos, Kristin (2014-07-31). "The Mindy Project Just Cast an It's Always Sunny Star as Morgan's Cousin and It's Perfect". Eonline.
- Mindy Kaling [@mindykaling] (3 July 2014). "Get ready. #themindyproject" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
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