'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia's' 'Gay Mac' Gets Seriously Ripped

Thursday April 15, 2021

On the FXX series "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," fans have watched the radical physical transformation of actor Rob McElhenney, who plays Ronald "Mac" McDonald.

Prior to the show's seventh season the actor gained 60 pounds and grew a full beard to give his character a new direction.

"As his show entered its seven season, he decided sudden weight gain would be a perfect way to mock other shows and capsize the relentless vanity of his character, Mac," he told Reuters in 2011. (He tried to get the whole cast to join in the weight gain, but all passed. His wife, Kaitlin Olson, was especially uninterested after having their first child last year.)"

After five months of putting the weight on, he lost half of it in a month. Now he is showing off his ripped new look, the Daily Mail reports, as he prepares for the show's fifteenth season, which makes it the longest-running, live-action comedy on television, having surpassed "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet."

To show off his buff look, McElhenney is on the cover of the latest issue of Men's Health in an interview conducted by his "text buddy" Ryan Reynolds.

Reynolds quotes McElhenney as having said that to get a tight body, what you need to do is "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. #hollywood."

The focus on the interview wasn't about his workout process, which he acknowledges is "a completely unsustainable lifestyle." As McElhenney says, "the presentation of the human body, and the way it's been presented for the last 30 or so years, and what's considered attractive versus what is considered realistic."

One of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia's" memes was the long process of Mac's coming out. "Throughout the first 11 seasons of the critically-acclaimed dark comedy, it was insinuated that the character was a closeted gay man due to his obsession with men's physiques and his religious views on homosexuality," he said in an interview with Rolling Stone.

"The joke wasn't that Mac was gay, obviously. That would have been demeaning and offensive. The joke was that he was in the closet, and he refused to come out and doubled down on his homophobia. It was just poking fun at the hypocrisy of that. At one point, my character came out and then went back in the closet at the end of the episode."

McElhenney admitted to Rolling Stone, having him go back into the closet was a mistake. "I didn't expect it, but there was a massive outpouring from our LGBTQ fans... they were really upset. They felt like, 'Oh, wow, he finally came out. We feel represented. This is a really fun and cool character.' '' That made them feel like it was a chance for us to do something different, and we put him back in the closet. We thought about it over the off-season, and I realized, "Man, that is a bummer. We had an opportunity there, and we screwed it up."

He also acknowledged the show's edgy humor (he describes the show as "the opposite" of 'Friends'). "We're certainly not lauding characters for their homophobia or misogyny or casual racism. In fact, it's the complete opposite, where we're degrading our own characters for holding some of those views. I think that's abundantly clear from Episode One. So people will watch the show and say, 'Well, clearly the characters are homophobic, but the writers and/or creators and/or directors are not.' That's the most important aspect for us."

Discussing his ripped look to Reynolds, McElhenney says that the people who were most fascinated by my body when I was in great shape were dudes."

But not just gay men. "Women could give two shits. In fact, my wife really was displeased with the way I looked, because she felt like I was trying too hard, and I was. I was! 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, 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."

He also said actors today are held to completely unrealistic physical standards. "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. However, I will say—and I hear this from a lot of men, and I think it's a little 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."