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 Magazine, DeVito’s “Louie De Palma” was voted number one among “TV’s Fifty Greatest Character’s Ever.”
On television, he will next be seen returning as “Frank Reynolds” in the 15th season of FXX’s acclaimed cult comedy It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which was renewed in 2020 for seasons 15-18, making it the longest-running scripted comedy in television history. He was most recently seen in a guest role in the first season of Netflix’s The Kominsky Method.
Upcoming films in development include Triplets and Sniff. 2019 saw DeVito in the highly successful sequel Jumanji: The Next Level and reunited with Tim Burton for Disney’s Dumbo. He will next be seen in the Harry Haft biopic The Survivor, directed by Barry Levinson, in which he has also served as executive producer.
DeVito is the principal of Jersey Film’s 2nd Avenue, a successor company of Jersey Films. They most recently announced the first season of their animated comedy Little Demon was picked up by FXX, including characters voiced by DeVito, daughter and actor Lucy DeVito and Aubrey Plaza, with Dan Harmon executive producing. In film, they optioned most recently the screen rights to Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation, the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Dan Fagin.
DeVito was last heard voicing the character “Bob” for Disney’s The One and Only Ivan released in 2020. In 2018, he was heard voicing “Dorgle” in Warner Bros.’ animated Smallfoot. Other voiced characters include the “Lorax” in Universal Pictures’ animated feature The Lorax, based on the book by Dr. Seuss. His voice was also heard in the German, Russian, Spanish and Italian versions of the film.
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, DeVito also co-starred in the Todd Solondz’ dark comedy Wiener-Dog.
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.
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 and Even Money.
DeVito attended Our Lady of Mt. Carmel grammar school and Oratory Prep School in Summit, NJ, 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, DeVito bought a one-way 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 DeVito 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, DeVito 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-millimeter 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."