Image-obsessed Hollywood often highlights stories of actors losing weight for a role but sometimes the reverse is noteworthy. Fans of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia recently learned that Rob McElhenney put on a lot of weight to more accurately represent his character.
Rob McElhenney, who portrayed Mac in the FX series, saw his character through major physical transformations over the course of the show’s 13 seasons.
As Uproxx noted, there wouldn’t be a “Jacked Mac” if it were not for “Fat Mac.”
Rob McElhenney gained 50 pounds for the 7th season of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia because he thought it would be funny.
— What The F*** Facts (@WhatTheFFacts) December 18, 2013
McElhenney, who was also the show’s co-creator, was unhappy about an angle of his body during an editing session of an episode. But, as he considered looking for a better shot of himself, he had an epiphany. Shouldn’t the show’s characters dispense with their vanity as they aged? He suggested that his fellow castmates should all gain 50 pounds. They did not embrace the idea, however, so McElhenney stepped up as the sole volunteer.
A doctor warned of the dangers of quickly gaining his goal of 60 pounds, but he ignored the professional’s advice.
“I went to my doctor, because I wanted to be monitored through the whole thing, because this is funny. And my doctor said, ‘To be clear, this is not funny. Don’t do this. This is really dangerous.'”
"Rob McElhenney gained fifty pounds to play Mac this season. Why? For the sheer comedy of playing his character… http://fb.me/10bjLnv6Q
— Dale Zawada (@DaleZawada) June 17, 2011
In three month’s time, McElhenney gained 60 lbs.
He shared his dedicated, yet dry heave-inducing regimen on Armchair Expert podcast with Dax Shepard.
“So, I said let’s start doing that [eating two Big Macs a day]. So, then I had Krispy Kreme donuts. Every morning, I would have four of those … and by the afternoon, I was drinking ice cream.
“I would take ice cream, and I would put it out on the counter in the morning and it would melt and I would put weight gainer in it, and I would drink [melted ice cream] in the afternoon. I was also drinking [wine] heavily.
“But this was the key. I read that cottage cheese metabolizes really slow in your stomach, so if you eat cottage cheese, the last thing you want to do is eat it right before you go to bed because it metabolizes so slowly.
“So, that’s what I decided I had to do. So, I started eating cottage cheese in the middle of the night. I would wake up at 2 a.m. and I would eat cottage cheese. One week after that, I came in on a Monday and for whatever reason, it was like I popped … I went from 160 to 220.”
The idea that started as a joke was met with mixed reactions.
Rob McElhenney's commitment to the 'Fat Mac' phase in Always Sunny is never not funny.
— Charlie Lindlar (@charlielindlar) February 9, 2014
Pretty sure the Fat Mac Bowl contains all 5,000 of calories Rob McElhenney ate daily to gain those 50 pounds. Kids, don't try this at home.
— Ellen Gray (@elgray) August 6, 2011
Others gave the actor props for his dedication.
Okay the fact that @RMcElhenney legitimately gained over 50 pounds to play Fat Mac in Always Sunny is absolutely majestic
— Cory (@c_schneidd) May 7, 2017
Rob Mcelhenney actually gained 50 pounds for Fat Mac I'm dead that's dedication to a role
— ????????Autumn???????? (@aftersummer8) February 11, 2018
And some even wound up loving “Fat Mac.”
I love fat Mac so much I got this for Christmas a few years ago pic.twitter.com/uErDCmhDXP
— Melissa (@bones1106) August 23, 2018
In the show’s 12th season, “Jacked Mac” emerged with shredded abs to coincide with the arc of his character coming out to his dad.
Also Rob Mcelhenney must have put himself through hell to get buffed up like that. After this and Fat Mac, I hope he's taking care of himself.
— Chrono (@xChrono576) October 18, 2018
The shocking transformation made people curious about his regimen that resulted in a six-pack.
“Look, it’s not that hard,” he quipped in an Instagram post that displayed a juxtaposition of “Fat Mac” with “Jacked Mac.”
“All you need to do is lift weights six days a week, stop drinking alcohol, don’t eat anything after 7pm, don’t eat any carbs or sugar at all, in fact just don’t eat anything you like, get the personal trainer from Magic Mike, sleep nine hours a night, run three miles a day, and have a studio pay for the whole thing over a six to seven month span.”
View this post on Instagram
Look, it’s not that hard. All you need to do is lift weights six days a week, stop drinking alcohol, don’t eat anything after 7pm, don’t eat any carbs or sugar at all, in fact just don’t eat anything you like, get the personal trainer from Magic Mike, sleep nine hours a night, run three miles a day, and have a studio pay for the whole thing over a six to seven month span. I don’t know why everyone’s not doing this. It’s a super realistic lifestyle and an appropriate body image to compare oneself to. #hollywood
Regardless of Mac’s physical state, fans already miss the character now that the series aired its final episode.
I love “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” Rob McElhenney is just such a great writer. Also Mac is like constantly smoking hot and hands down the best character. Even Fat Mac is crazy hot ????????????
— tianna (@tianna_montoya) November 8, 2018
rob mcelhenney once said that ppl in sitcoms get better looking over time so wanted mac to be ugly as fat mac… yet mac was hot when he was fat and continues to be even hotter in s13 pic.twitter.com/KdQSFkNAEq
— lily (@macdens) May 23, 2018
I can’t wait. Love this show. But I feel betrayed by Mac though. Fat Mac was for the people. Fat Mac represented me. This new shredded Mac makes me feel sad about myself. @RMcElhenney https://t.co/eMC9Y3LI9g
— Brian Q Quinn (@BQQuinn) August 23, 2018
McElhenney is an example of an actor who went to great lengths in transforming his body for the sake of a storyline. For the rest of us, it might be wise to avoid the “Fat Mac” diet. Your life might depend on it.