‘Hacks’ Star Kaitlin Olson Says It’s Nice to Do ‘Something Different’ and Still Have ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’

Spoilers ahead for “Hacks” Season 3, Episode 3.

Kaitlin Olson is always happy to see more of DJ Vance, Deborah’s (Jean Smart) daughter in the Max comedy “Hacks.” But when she first saw the script for “The Roast of Deborah Vance,” she was downright “thrilled” by the episode.

“I love when they write really funny things for me, but I also really love when they write emotional stuff that’s character based,” Olson told TheWrap. “This had both.”

The Season 3 episode is a redemption in more ways than one. When Deborah is set to be the center of a celebrity roast, she asks her daughter to participate. Initially, DJ refuses, but when Deborah agrees to go to a narcotics anonymous meeting with her, she reluctantly agrees. Of course, the NA meeting is a far cry from the heartfelt moment DJ craves. After reading a statement that was covertly written by her joke writer Ava (Hannah Einbinder), Deborah non-consensually turns her daughter’s five-year meeting into an audience to test out her roast material. So when DJ takes the stage for her mom’s big night, she’s prepared to get even.

Olson is no stranger to playing a character who’s nervous when it comes to stand-up. In fact, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” has made Dee’s comedy aspirations and chronic anxiety the butt of the joke for years now.

“I was very aware that I was going to have ‘Sunny’ fans watching that and being like, ‘Oh, so you’re just always gonna be bad at stand-up comedy?'” Olson joked. “I’m always trying to make sure that my characters are different from each other, but there’s always going to be some similarities because I’m apparently the person you go to if you want an actor who can yell at people and make them feel emasculated.”

But instead of dying onstage like Dee has on many occasions, DJ “nailed it.” Even the catchphrase Ava cautions her not to use — “What a c–t” — is met with laughter and applause.

“I was dying. It’s so stupid and so bad. I love the conviction behind it, and I loved that it ended up working in the end,” Olson said, praising “Hacks” showrunners Lucia Aniello, Paul W. Downs and Jen Statsky for the joke. Olson called Episode 3 “a perfect storm of a beautifully written script” that is “never one note.”

“They are so open to collaboration. I have the freedom to play around with stuff, which you don’t always find,” she added. “It’s a big testament to them and the kind of set that they run and the scripts they write that this character is so much fun. I am very grateful to them.”

Deborah (Jean Smart) and DJ (Kaitlin Olson) in “Hacks” Season 3 (Photo Credit: Max)

As gratifying as it may be for “Always Sunny” fans to see Olson get her stand-up redemption, the most remarkable scene of the episode happens after DJ’s c–t-filled set. After Deborah congratulates her daughter, DJ cheerfully says that she finally gets why comedy was the “most important” part of her mom’s life.

“I spent my whole life thinking you were a narcissist, but turns out you’re actually an addict, like me,” DJ says. “You’re addicted to getting laughs. I mean, I can go to group to stay sober, but you can’t. Your addiction is the group. There’s no hope for you.”

When Deborah tries to apologize to her daughter for monopolizing her NA meeting, DJ happily brushes her off. It’s a moment of grace that’s far removed from the strained relationship that typically exists between the mother-daughter duo.

“It’s OK. Addicts always hurt the ones they love,” DJ says, smiling.

“I felt like there was such a sense of relief for her to be able to recognize that it wasn’t her fault that she wasn’t a good enough daughter to get her mom’s attention. Her mom is broken, just like she feels,” Olson said, likening it to “40-something years of trying desperately to get somebody to like you.”

“She’s been chasing this relationship her whole life. There’s such relief in being able to let part of that go and move on to a relationship with her own kid,” Olson said.

As emotionally charged as the moment may have been, it only took three or four takes to capture. Olson credited that fact to how “easy” it is to act with the “incredible and talented” Smart, saying, “The raw emotion in her eyes when she’s talking to you, it’s just such a collaboration. It doesn’t always work that well.”

As much as Olson “absolutely” loves “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” — and hopes that “it runs forever” — “Hacks” has allowed her to explore a different, more dramatic side of her acting.

“I personally am a very empathetic and emotional person. Somebody tells me a story about something their kid’s going through, I’m going to get teary. That’s just who I am,” Olson said, laughing. “Being able to access that kind of thing and to do something different and keep it fresh, it’s awesome.”

This side of the actor will also be appearing in Olson’s upcoming ABC show, “High Potential.” Though Olson assured TheWrap that Morgan is “still a pretty funny character,” the drama follows a secretly brilliant single mom of three kids who helps solve an unsolvable crime while rearranging evidence during her shift as a cleaner for the police department.

“I have lots of opportunity for real feelings in there too, so it’s been nice to do something different and nice to know that I still have ‘Sunny,'” Olson said. “I feel like the luckiest person in the world being able to still have ‘Sunny’ and still be able to go off and do all these other incredible characters.”

DJ (Kaitlin Olson) in “Hacks” Season 3 (Photo Credit: Max)

She is currently in the middle of filming “High Potential” on the same stages where “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” is shot. “I’ll be rolling right from this film into production [on ‘Sunny’], I believe, in October,” Olson said. “I’m right at home here on the Fox lot.”

Plus, Olson isn’t the only one who has pushed her creative limits. As “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” has continued over the years, the FX show has reexamined itself. For Olson, that has meant revisiting several of the overtly racist characters Dee has created as part of her ill-fated comedy career.

“I feel like we can get away with a lot because it’s pretty clear that we are making fun of that behavior. So for me, I don’t really ever shy away from any of that because I feel like it’s all up for discussion. We make fun of extremists on both ends of any topic,” she said. “I love that. The things that [Dee] does — her sketch comedy characters, but really she’s just doing incredibly racist things — that’s hilarious to me because it’s insane.”

The actor noted that people often ask how the show gets away with what it has. “When you pull back and look at the whole thing, it’s pretty obvious that we’re making a social commentary,” Olson explained.

That very question came up recently after Jerry Seinfeld claimed that “Seinfeld” couldn’t be made today. Many fans on social media pointed to “It’s Always Sunny” as a counterargument, and the series’ creator, star and Olson’s husband Rob McElhenney even posted about it.

“We joke that we’ve been kind of grandfathered in after 16 years. You know who these characters are now, and we’re not wanting to go anywhere. So hopefully people are still enjoying it,” the actor concluded.

New episodes of Hacks premiere Thursdays on Max.

The post ‘Hacks’ Star Kaitlin Olson Says It’s Nice to Do ‘Something Different’ and Still Have ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ appeared first on TheWrap.