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Rob McElhenney: Actor, Writer, and Wrexham A.F.C. Co-Owner
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Rob McElhenney is an American actor, writer, producer, and businessman best known for creating and starring in the hit comedy series "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia." In recent years, he has also gained attention for co-owning the Welsh football club Wrexham A.F.C. with actor Ryan Reynolds.

 

McElhenney's Early Life in Philadelphia

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Rob McElhenney was born on April 14, 1977 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Helena and Robert McElhenney. He is of Irish descent and was raised Catholic, attending Saint Joseph's Preparatory School, a premier Catholic high school for boys in Philadelphia. McElhenney's parents divorced when he was 8 years old and he was primarily raised by his father. He has two younger brothers, a half-sister, and a step-brother. After graduating high school in 1995, McElhenney briefly attended Temple University in Philadelphia for one semester but did not finish. He spent time hanging out with friends on Temple's campus and in Fairmount Park before deciding to move to New York City to pursue an acting career.
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Early Acting Career

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Rob McElhenney began his acting career with small roles in films like The Devil's Own, A Civil Action, Wonder Boys, and Thirteen Conversations About One Thing in the late 1990s and early 2000s. His first major acting role was in the 2003 film Latter Days. At the age of 25, McElhenney moved from New York City to Los Angeles to further pursue his career. While working as a waiter between acting jobs, he met Glenn Howerton through his agent and Charlie Day while shooting a horror film in New York. The three friends would go on to create and star in the hit comedy series It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which launched McElhenney's career as a successful writer, producer and actor.
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The Creation of 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia'

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Rob McElhenney created the hit comedy series It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia in 2005 with his friends Charlie Day and Glenn Howerton. The show follows a group of narcissistic friends who run an Irish bar in South Philadelphia and constantly engage in questionable schemes. McElhenney, Day, and Howerton shot the pilot episode themselves for less than $200 using their own camera equipment. They pitched the homemade pilot to various networks and eventually got the support of FX to make the series. McElhenney expected the show's unique comedic style and boundary-pushing characters to be a hit from the start. The original idea was to make a show that was the complete opposite of sitcoms like Friends, where the characters face conflicts and grow. Instead, the gang in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia never learns or develops, remaining the same delusional narcissists even as the world changes around them. FX initially had low expectations for the show and it earned poor ratings in its first season. However, adding Danny DeVito to the cast in season 2 helped boost the show's popularity. It's Always Sunny went on to become one of the longest-running live-action comedy series in the U.S. As of 2020, it has been renewed through season 18. The show is heavily steeped in Philadelphia culture, with the opening credits featuring shots of landmarks like the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, Boathouse Row, and South Street. By bringing the city's culture to a national audience, It's Always Sunny has engrained itself as part of Philadelphia's identity. McElhenney, a Philadelphia native, serves as creator, writer, producer, and stars as Mac on the series.
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Rob McElhenney's Role in 'Mythic Quest'

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Rob McElhenney plays the lead role of Ian Grimm, the creative director of the fictional video game company Mythic Quest, in the Apple TV+ comedy series "Mythic Quest." In addition to starring, McElhenney is also one of the creators, writers, and executive producers of the show. He has directed several ambitious and acclaimed episodes of "Mythic Quest," including the standalone installments "A Dark Quiet Death" and "Backstory!" which serve as mini-movies exploring the larger gaming culture. McElhenney sees the series as an opportunity to deconstruct his own experiences as a storyteller and world-builder, with the central relationship between his narcissistic character Ian and the lead engineer Poppy Li played by Charlotte Nicdao.
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From Comedy to Football: Rob McElhenney's 'Welcome to Wrexham' Docuseries

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Rob McElhenney co-created and stars in the docuseries "Welcome to Wrexham" which chronicles his journey as co-owner of the Welsh football club Wrexham A.F.C. alongside actor Ryan Reynolds.
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The pair purchased the club, which is the third-oldest professional football team in the world, in 2020 despite having no prior experience managing a sports team.
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Their goal is to revive the struggling team and bring positive change to the local Wrexham community. The show has been a critical success, winning the 2023 Emmy Award for Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program.
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McElhenney was inspired to buy a football club after watching the Netflix series "Sunderland 'Til I Die" and being intrigued by the idea of promotion and demotion in European football leagues.
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Welcome to Wrexham: Emmy and PGA Honors

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Rob McElhenney has received recognition for his work in television, earning several awards and nominations:
AwardCategoryWorkResult
Primetime Emmy AwardsOutstanding Unstructured Reality ProgramWelcome to WrexhamWon (2023)
Producers Guild of America AwardsOutstanding Producer of Non-Fiction TelevisionWelcome to WrexhamWon (2023)
Creative Arts Emmy AwardsOutstanding Unstructured Reality Program, Outstanding Picture Editing for an Unstructured Reality Program, Outstanding Directing for a Reality Program, Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Reality Program, Outstanding Cinematography for a Reality ProgramWelcome to WrexhamWon (2023)
McElhenney's docuseries "Welcome to Wrexham," which follows his journey as co-owner of the Welsh football club Wrexham A.F.C. with Ryan Reynolds, has been his most acclaimed project in terms of awards. The show won the 2023 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program. It also swept five categories at the 2023 Creative Arts Emmy Awards, including for directing, editing, sound mixing, and cinematography. Additionally, McElhenney won the Producers Guild of America Award for Outstanding Producer of Non-Fiction Television for the series in 2023.
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McElhenney's Other Entrepreneurial Pursuits

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en.wikipedia.org
Rob McElhenney has expanded his business portfolio beyond the entertainment industry with several ventures:
  • In 2020, McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds became co-owners of Wrexham AFC, a Welsh soccer team in the National League. Their takeover and efforts to revive the club are chronicled in the docuseries "Welcome to Wrexham."
  • In June 2023, McElhenney, Reynolds, and actor Michael B. Jordan were part of an investment group that purchased a 24% stake in the Alpine Formula One racing team for around $218 million. The deal valued the team at approximately $900 million.
  • McElhenney founded the entertainment-tech company Adim in 2022 as a Web3 platform for creators to collaborate and have ownership of their content using NFTs. The company raised $5 million in seed funding.
  • In 2009, McElhenney and his wife Kaitlin Olson, who co-stars on "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," purchased Skinner's Bar in Philadelphia. They renamed it Mac's Tavern after McElhenney's character on the show.
Through these diverse business ventures, McElhenney has leveraged his success and celebrity to become an entrepreneur and investor across industries like sports, technology, and hospitality.
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Rob McElhenney's Family and Advocacy

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Rob McElhenney married his It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia co-star Kaitlin Olson on September 27, 2008. The couple has two sons together, Axel Lee McElhenney born in 2010 and Leo Grey McElhenney born in 2012. In July 2023, McElhenney revealed on Twitter that he had recently been diagnosed with "a host of neurodevelopmental disorders and learning disabilities" at the age of 46. He shared this to remind others who may struggle with similar challenges that they are "not alone" or "stupid." McElhenney is a strong advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, with both of his brothers being gay. He has said he's "always been part of the gay community" and strives to be an ally. Additionally, McElhenney uses his platform to promote mental health awareness and support initiatives aimed at reducing the stigma surrounding mental health conditions.
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