The Untold Truth Of Kaitlin Olson

A native of Tulatin, Oregon, Kaitlin Olson has come a long way from her small-town roots in the Pacific Northwest. As she told The Oregonian in 2010, she grew up on a small and secluded farm, revealing she "was scared of people." Becoming an actor, the star admitted, was something that came about by happenstance. "I'm not really sure how this all happened, where I started wanting to perform," Olson said. 

After graduating from the University of Oregon, she made her way to Hollywood and landed a small but memorable role on "Curb Your Enthusiasm," playing the sister-in-law of Larry David's character in an episode in which an unfortunate typo in an obituary changes "beloved aunt" to something altogether different. More roles followed, including the one for which she'll always be best known: Sweet Dee on FXX comedy "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," which wrapped its 15th season in late 2021. Other notable parts have included the titular Mackenzie "Mickey" Murphy in Fox sitcom "The Mick," which ran for two seasons, the recurring character Traylor on "The Drew Carey Show," and the voice of Destiny the whale shark in Pixar hit "Finding Dory."

One of television's funniest women, this talented actor has gained legions of fans — but how much do they really know about the person behind the laughs? Find out by reading on to discover the untold truth of Kaitlin Olson.

Kaitlin Olson suffered a serious accident when she was 12

Kaitlin Olson's childhood was marred by a horrific accident she suffered when she was just 12, in which she seriously fractured her skull while riding her bicycle. "Yeah, that was a doozy," Olson told Glamour. "I still have a hole in my head. It was the size of a lime. Now it's the size of a quarter." She also "smashed" her face and required surgery that led to her head being shaved. 

As Olson recalled in an interview with Vulture, the timing was particularly tortuous, given that the accident and associated head-shaving took place just as she was about to enter junior high. "That pretty much secured my place," she admitted, adding that one bullying classmate "threw jelly beans at me in the lunch line, trying to make them go into the hole in my head." In retrospect, Olson now looks back on the whole thing as "probably the greatest thing that ever happened to me," she told Glamour, although it took her years to come to that realization. At the time, she revealed, "It just threw me into a ... real tailspin. I just wanted to hide. Some people were really nice, but some kids were really mean." 

She got her start with an iconic improv troupe

Kaitlin Olson received her comedy training at one of Hollywood's most prestigious proving grounds, as a member of legendary improv troupe The Groundlings. The native of Oregon began taking classes with The Groundlings when she arrived in Los Angeles. "It was intense," she told Hobo Trashcan of her experience. "Everybody has to start out at the first level. It doesn't matter how much experience you have with sketch comedy or improvising."

According to Olson, she didn't actually set out to join the esteemed comedy institution. "I just wanted to get the training and it looks great on your resume. Casting directors love it; they'll bring you in if you're studying with The Groundlings," she explained. Olson had the talent and the drive to climb to the third and fourth levels, where she recalled things became "very competitive," adding that while writing sketches every single day, "You're also poor. I worked two part-time jobs, plus doing this was like a full-time job."

Her Groundlings training paid off when it led to a role on "Curb Your Enthusiasm." "I'm not the ballsiest person, so I was very proud of myself for getting it," Olson said in an interview with BuzzFeed. "I was really proud to make Larry [David] laugh. The more I would yell at him the more he would laugh. Which was really fantastic. I loved that."

These Always Sunny co-stars kept their romance a secret

Kaitlin Olson and fellow "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" actor Rob McElhenney have been married since 2008, and they're the parents of two sons. The spouses met while co-starring in the series and couldn't overcome their mutual attraction. As Olson revealed during an appearance on Dax Shepard's "Armchair Expert" podcast (via PhillyVoice), their romance didn't begin immediately, but they eventually began dating in secret during the show's first season, keeping their relationship hidden from the cast and crew.

A further complication arose from the fact that, at the time, McElhenney was living with "Always Sunny" co-star Glenn Howerton. While McElhenney was spending most nights with Olson, he told Howerton a completely different story. "Glenn would come to work jealous and be like, 'God, Rob is just like, he's just out there at bars, just like, meeting people? F—— every bar he goes to, he goes and spends the night at her house!'" Olson recalled. 

Speaking with Glamour, Olson revealed that while they were dating, she felt marriage was a certainty. "That's so cheesy, but now that I've dated a bunch of people, then found him and gotten married, you really do know," she said. "So it was so dumb [not to try and date] because there was nothing that could have stopped me because he was the right person."

Kaitlin Olson carved out a second career as a voice actor

Kaitlin Olson has amassed an impressive array of screen credits, and not all of them have been live action. In fact, Olson has also become a sought-over voice actor in animated projects, with credits including "Family Guy," "Brickleberry," "The Simpsons," "Bob's Burgers," and "Finding Dory," playing a whale shark named Destiny. 

As "Finding Dory" director Andrew Stanton explained in an interview with Yahoo! Entertainment, the character of Destiny "had existed in the film for a long time, but has had many different mutations." It wasn't until hearing Olson in the role, however, that the characterization really came together. "There's a term, 'the camera loves them.' There's also people where the microphone loves them, and the animator in you comes out, and you say, 'I'd love to animate to that voice.' She has one of those voices," said Stanton. 

Olson, a mother of two young boys, told Sippy Cup Mom that she couldn't have been happier to be a part of a children's movie, adding, "I wanted to do something they could watch."

She almost turned down her Almost Sunny role

Of all her numerous screen roles, Kaitlin Olson is most associated with Sweet Dee, the character she's played for more than 15 years on "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia." However, as Olson shared during an interview with Yahoo! News, she almost turned down the part. The reason, she explained, was that in the first season's scripts, Dee was the comedic straight-man foil to her male co-stars, who had all the funny material.

"I said, 'With all due respect, I just don't want to play that character. I don't want to be the voice of reason,'" she recalled. ?It just wasn't what I was interested in doing. They said to me, 'Look, we just haven't really written for women that much, but we'll figure it out.' My first thought was, 'Well, don't write for a woman. Just write another funny character.' I'll make it female just by not doing anything. I just am a woman. Don't think about it as male or female."

As the show has progressed, Olson's come to see Dee's gender as increasingly less important to the characters' interpersonal dynamics. "I'm definitely proud of the female character that we've created together," she said. "I think it's a really strong one. But I would say that I love being part of this team. I don't really think about it in terms of being the only woman that much."

The promise Kaitlin Olson made about Sweet Dee

After 15 seasons and counting, Sweet Dee and the rest of the characters on "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" have embarked on some pretty stupid schemes, ranging from selling gasoline door-to-door to collecting trash during a garbage strike. Yet despite every single one of these gambits ending in abject failure, the gang has yet to become any wiser from all those ill-conceived plans. 

That, explained Katilin Olson, is entirely by design — and something she promises will never change. "We want them to sort of never learn their lesson and grow and be better people," Olson told E! News. "It's kind of one of the things that's funniest to me about my character in particular because why would this person continue to try and impress these guys and be friends with them and want their approval after all this time?" she added. "She's just trying to prove herself to them and has been for 15 years. That's completely ridiculous."

That particular personality trait is on display in the episode in which Dee and twin brother Dennis (Glenn Howerton) — in the hopes of collecting welfare — deliberately develop a crack addiction. That storyline, she told Elle, had become "a real longterm favorite" for her. "The episode really showed us that Dee is extremely gullible, that she knows nothing, that she is susceptible to bad behavior, and that she'll follow Dennis anywhere — even though she can't stand him," Olson said.

Her real-life pregnancy was written into the show

When Kaitlin Olson and co-star-slash-husband Rob McElhenney started a family, it led to complications with her character on "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia." As a result, Dee became pregnant on the show — and, as NME recalled, caused chaos by implying that one of the gang (possibly even her own brother) was the father. When Olson's character finally gave birth, she immediately handed the baby over for adoption, thus ensuring the character would be unfettered by motherhood in future seasons. 

According to McElhenney, attempting to shoot around his wife's pregnancy was never really an option. "Ultimately we realized we were never going to be able to hide it, realistically," McElhenney told TV Guide. "So we knew we had to embrace it and put it into the show." As a bonus, he explained, it allowed the show to venture into fresh comedic territory, noting of the common TV trope, "Why not put our own spin on that, the way we put our own spin on a lot of other things."

For her part, Olson added, "Being able to write it into the show and document it has been really awesome. It just happened to work out perfectly where I was shooting during my second trimester and I felt really good." As she told Healthy Mom & Baby, that "perfect timing" allowed her "to shoot the show when I had the most energy."

Kaitlin Olson went into labor at a Phillies game

While Dee finally had her baby, it served as the basis for an entire episode of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia." When Kaitlin Olson welcomed her first child, however, it happened in a manner that would have fit into an episode of the series just as comfortably. 

"I went into labor at the Phillies/Dodgers game on Tuesday night," Olson told People of the arrival of son Axel Lee in September 2010. She went on to quip, "As soon as Ryan Howard hit a three-run home run, we felt comfortable leaving to go have our baby. We love him like crazy, even though he made us miss the second half of the game."

Interviewed by Glamour, Olson offered more detail. Technically, she explained, her labor began while she was still home, but the star decided to stick with plans to attend the game: "I was like, 'Oh, it's gonna be a long time [till the baby is ready to come out], and it's my first baby.' My whole plan, anyway, when I did go into labor was to go for a walk around the neighborhood, go to the grocery store. But we went to the game!" Her plan hit a snag, however, when the baby's arrival became more imminent than she anticipated. After a handful of innings, Olson jokingly noted, "I was like, 'OK, time to go now.' It was an important game, OK? The Dodgers were playing the Phillies. ... I endured a lot to watch that game!"

She offered her advice for parents of boys

In April 2012, People reported that Kaitlin Olson and Rob McElhenney welcomed their second child. Like their first, the new arrival was also a boy, named Leo Grey. 

Raising two boys, Olson told Fatherly, she and McElhenney are firm believers in teaching by example, particularly when it comes to avoiding behavior that could foster toxic masculinity. "I just have two great kids," she said. "We talk a lot about consent and respect and leaving a place better than you found it. They're at the point now where they're like, 'We get it, mom.'" According to Olson, it's all about "making sure that you live your life in a way that you're proud of, because your kids are always watching."

Olson has also instituted a family-wide rule involving screen time: putting down their phones, tablets, computers, etc. and greeting or saying goodbye to anyone entering or leaving their home. However, not everyone seems to be on board with that particular rule all the time, as Olson went on to joke, "And then my third boy, Rob, I have to be like, 'Hey, can you put your screen down and say hello to your kids?'"

The audition tip she'd like to have given her younger self

After all those seasons of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," in addition to headlining her own Fox comedy "The Mick," Kaitlin Olson is an in-demand actor. That wasn't always the case, as she explained while looking back at her early days in Los Angeles. "I was just such a nervous auditioner," Olson told Backstage, admitting she "just wanted to go in and give them what they wanted and impress them." However, she eventually came to realize, "This isn't going to work unless I go in and I have fun with this and I amuse myself and make myself laugh and add things that I think are funny."

Asked to share the audition advice she wishes she could have given her younger self, Olson emphasized the need to "make it your own" rather than just trying to be whatever character descriptions are on the page. "The truth is, they're looking for the best actor. Someone who's bringing something to it that adds to what they already thought of," she added. 

That was particularly true of her "Always Sunny" audition, the star told IGN. While she typically found this process to be anxiety-inducing, this time around luckily went a little differently. "I walked in and the first thing we did was just to talk and hang out and we immediately hit it off," Olson explained.

Katilin Olson is passionate about caring for animals

Katilin Olson and husband Rob McElhenney made headlines in 2021 when they reunited a stray dog they spotted on a Los Angeles freeway with his family. McElhenney shared a photo of the dog on Twitter, revealing Olson found the dog. As Olson told Fatherly, she embarked on a daring rescue mission in the middle of traffic. "It wasn't just me," she explained of saving the terrified pup, who she deemed to be "so handsome" that she named him Brad Pitt. "There was a little team of us that were clearly trying to slow everything down and get up on the side of the dog and veer it off to the side. And there were people that would be coming up behind us, and honking and trying to zoom behind us. It was so scary."

Of course, this is right on brand for Olson. "I was one of those kids that always really connected with animals and liked them more than I really liked people," she told People about her volunteer work with Animal Wellness Foundation, helping find homes for rescue animals. "I'm always looking for opportunities, especially with my kids, to volunteer and to be of service and do some active, selfless things," she said.

She's been injured a LOT while filming Always Sunny

While there's no denying "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" is responsible for making Kaitlin Olson's career, it's also led her to suffer several injuries. One of these can be seen in the show, in an episode in which her character slams headfirst into the side of a car"That was my head," Olson confirmed in an interview with Yahoo! News. While a stunt double was ready to stand in for her, Olson was insistent on doing it herself. "So, yeah, I needed to see a chiropractor many times afterwards," she admitted, "but whatever, it worked out."

Other injuries suffered on the "Always Sunny" set have been worse. "I went to the emergency room this year. I ripped my leg completely wide open on a steel grate that we were running on. It was a mess," she shared with Yahoo! News in 2013. What made her accident all the more excruciating, she explained during appearance on "Conan" around the same time, was that her husband, Rob McElhenney, was wearing Blackface for a scene in the show when he accompanied her to the ER. Major yikes.

According to the show's stunt coordinator, Marc Scizak, Olson's enthusiasm for doing her own stunts sometimes needs to be reined in. "On bigger gags where she's going to get hurt, we have to kind of reel her back a little because she just goes for it," Scizak told The New York Times.

She earned her first Emmy nomination for another show

While Kaitlin Olson is best known for playing Sweet Dee on "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," her performance has never been recognized by Emmy voters. However, she did receive her first-ever Emmy nomination in 2020 for an entirely different show: "Flipped," a comedy for the Quibi streaming service, featuring short-form series in which episodes are all under 10 minutes in length. In "Flipped," Olson and "Saturday Night Live" alum Will Forte play a down-on-their-luck couple who attempt to become home-renovation TV stars by starring in their own home-flipping series — which inadvertently leads them to work for a drug cartel.

As Olson told Deadline, she was "so blindsided" by her Emmy nomination, saying, "The Emmys haven't been on my radar at all. ... I was like, 'Oh, I can't wait to tell [husband] Rob [McElhenney]. This will be hilarious, that I got nominated for something other than 'Sunny.'" 

While Olson told Deadline that discussions were underway for a potential second season of "Flipped," any plans were scuttled when Quibi announced it was ceasing operations in December 2020, less than seven months after its launch. "The world has changed dramatically since Quibi launched and our standalone business model is no longer viable," Quibi founder Jeffrey Katzenberg told Variety.

Kaitlin Olson's net worth is pretty impressive

A career in acting isn't always lucrative, but it's certainly worked out well financially for Kaitlin Olson. According to Celebrity Net Worth, she's worth a whopping $50 million. While her precise salary on "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" isn't known, the star's presumably earning considerably more per episode than she did when the series first began. 

According to a 2010 story on the show in the Los Angeles Times, her co-star and husband, Rob McElhenney, earned just $70,000 for the first season; it's a fair assumption her salary at that time would have been similarly low. "They weren't paying us enough money at the time to completely support myself," said McElhenney, who revealed he was still waiting tables at a West Hollywood restaurant at the time. "I would direct episodes, produce and act and wrap shooting around 6 so I could go home and change into my uniform." Olson's quote has since risen considerably; per Variety, she was reportedly paid $1 million for her work on "Flipped" in 2020. 

Having listed their longtime Sherman Oaks, California home in 2017 for $2.675 million, the Olson-McElhenney household was making enough dough to move into a Los Angeles compound built and designed for the family of four. Described as a "dream" throughout a 2020 interview with Traditional Home (via People), Olson said of the home, "The kitchen has my heart because, as is the case in every other home in the world, that's where everybody gathers. My favorite part of the day is cooking dinner while the boys do homework at the counter."