The Everett Collection

Danny DeVito's character on Taxi was made just for him

You may know Danny DeVito for his role as Louie De Palma in Taxi, or maybe from his 16 seasons on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Heck, you may even recognize this comedy legend from those Jersey Mike's commercials he's featured in.

Either way, chances are, you do at least recognize Danny DeVito.

DeVito made the move to Los Angeles when he was only 22. According to a 1979 interview with Tampa Bay Times, DeVito said the first time he saw Hollywood, it bewildered him. He even took a detour downtown because he said that's where he thought the movies were made.

"I was from New York and I had no idea what it was like," DeVito said. "I didn't know it was spread out. I didn't understand why Michael Douglas couldn't pick me up from the L.A. airport just because he was going to college in Santa Barbara."

It wasn't long after he moved to LA that he started landing gigs. Some of his roles prior to Taxi included: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Goin' South, Swap Meet and more.

Before Taxi, DeVito had a few television roles, but he said he hadn't really thought about making the jump to TV. Until one day, just like a classic Hollywood tale, he got a call that would change his life.

"They said they had a part I was right for," DeVito said. "I hadn't sought this kind of employment before. I wanted to do movies, go back to New York for a play. I was clued in to the reputation of the guys behind Taxi. They had done The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The script was great; the characters were well drawn. I really wanted the part."

DeVito started to create a plan to land the role of Louie, the Taxi dispatcher. He knew the part was for him the moment he read the script. 

"I walked into the audition and was introduced to everybody," DeVito said. "I had the script in my head. I said 'All right, one thing I want to know beforehand, who wrote this garbage?' I threw the script on the table."

"There was a moment of stunned silence, then a big laugh," DeVito said. "Louie had walked into their lives. I felt Louie had been written for me. It was my role."

DeVito, who stands just under 5 feet tall, made an impression on the Taxi cast. In part because of his booming New York Italian accent, and partly because well, it's Danny DeVito.

From moving to Hollywood, to taking a risk and hatching a plan to get the role of Louie; DeVito is considered a comedy legend because of his time on Taxi.

"Louie is a combination of what they've given me in terms of the character and my own work as an actor," DeVito said. "It's so rewarding. The whole experience. Louie gets some great things to say, some points to make. He knows himself, he takes care of his people. He loves those cabbies."

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