Just like her famous parents, Lucy DeVito enjoys making people laugh. “It’s not easy, but I love it,” the 34-year-old tells ET from her dressing room at the Jerry Orbach Theater in New York City.
Daughter to Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman, Lucy has appeared opposite her father on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and in the 2016 film The Comedian, as well as on HBO’s Girls and Speech & Debate. Following her 2009 Off-Broadway debut alongside her mother in Love, Loss and What I Wore, the actress is back on the New York stage with the romantic comedy Hot Mess, playing Elanor, a quirky aspiring magician from Los Angeles who falls for a Jewish recovering alcoholic (Max Crumm) with a secret he can’t seem to confess.
Backstage, the actress talks about the blessing and curse of being a DeVito, the lessons her parents taught her about being successful in the entertainment industry and what’s next in her career.
ET: What drew you to the role of Elanor in Hot Mess?
Lucy DeVito: It’s fun to play the female lead of anything. I get cast a lot as the best friend or the assistant. Elanor is a wackadoodle sort of character with all these hang-ups. It’s always fun to play someone who is a bit out there [and] silly.
Is there any bit of Elanor’s character in Lucy?
I am from L.A. She lives in L.A. in the play. In any role I do, it’s me in some way, so I feel very close to her. She is a bit crazier than I am. Her sense of humor, always wanting to laugh -- I am definitely that kind of person.
Do you have any recent experiences in the “hot mess” dating department?
I am currently single, so I have been on some recent first dates but nothing to write home about in terms of wacky. Most of the people I meet are nice and kind of normal.
What about when dates learn your last name?
I don’t tell people that. I think a first date is kind of like an interview. If I feel like we have chemistry, I will divulge more of myself to them. I am pretty guarding in that sense. It’s a curse and a blessing having that last name. More good than bad, but there is a certain point where I can’t really be anonymous because you know who my parents are. If it’s a setup, they know who I am [and] if it’s a blind date, then no.
Speaking of your parents, what lessons have they taught you about acting over the years?
Everything. They are my gurus. They are so supportive of all the work I do. Mostly they taught me to be open [and] to have fun, constantly ask questions, explore and keep it fresh. They have taught me to have the sense of humor I have. They are kind of silly people so it’s like I’ve grown up with this sense of jokiness, which I like. I bring the weirdo out in myself, which I think they encourage. I feel so lucky because [when] a lot of my friends who are actors go through the ups and downs -- their families don’t understand how hard it can be. With my parents, I am so close with them and I am able to be like, I didn’t get this f****ng part, am I bad? It’s amazing I can go to my parents for advice. They say, ‘It’s tough. You are strong, you have to have a thick skin and you have to keep going.’
How about succeeding in the entertainment industry?
They basically said, ‘Do your work.’ They [tell me to] study; see as much as you can see, educate yourself. Work your creative muscle. In that sense, they’ve been very encouraging. ‘If this is what you want to do, work at it every day.’
What is it like to work with them onscreen?
It’s always cool to work with someone you know. You get past that barrier when you’re figuring out who that person is. They are both amazing actors. We have this connection and it’s so great. I haven’t really had the opportunity to do anything uncomfortable with them, because that would be weird. The stuff I have done with them has been fun and sweet.
Did you get the acting bug from your parents?
It was always an itch I needed to scratch. I did it in high school, and then I went to college [at Brown University]. I tried to see if I wanted to do other things [but] I kept thinking about acting. [So I] thought I would give it a shot. It’s not easy, but I love it.
Have you seen all of their work?
I haven’t seen everything they’ve done, or it has been a long time [like] Wise Guys. My mom will do bits on shows that I miss. They’re in so much stuff.
What are some of your favorite performance?
Cheers and Taxi are pretty great. My mom was just on The Mindy Project and was brilliant in that.
I was so proud of him. That character broke my heart. I think I saw it four times. He isn’t a spring chicken anymore, and it’s hard to do theater with that schedule. He was at it with so much energy. He had a really good time doing it, so that was wonderful for me to watch. [His] Broadway debut in [his] 70s? It’s pretty incredible.
I am auditioning right now. I am probably going to L.A. for a bit and try to get some TV work, hopefully. But I will be back. I am going to do an [off-Broadway] show in the spring, but I am not allowed to talk about it.