Really, everyone I spoke to raved about Howerton’s niceness. And not in a milquetoast Oh God, what can I say to this reporter lady about him? way. In more of a it’s so crazy that he’s this good and talented and still genuinely kind way. It’s still a rarity in Hollywood. Even after our big cultural reckoning, a lot of people continue to think acting like an absolute frothing asshole is the best conduit for artistic genius. “He’s just so special,” says Kaitlin Olson, who plays his twin sister Dee on Always Sunny. “I mean, he listens. He’s thoughtful. I think he gets more joy when I make him laugh than vice versa.” She emphasizes that last attribute in a tone like, Can you even imagine? A man! In comedy! Not constantly trying to be the funniest person in the room!
The people who do spot Howerton though, really feel like they know him. They’ve been super fans of Always Sunny for almost two decades— two decades!—since before the iPad existed, back when Kelly Clarkson was a chart topper, not a daytime talk show host.
“When people are big fans of a TV show, it means something different, because you’re literally in their house,” he says. “It’s intimate. People say all the time, ‘Oh my God, my husband and I watch your show every night when we’re going to bed!’ Which could sound, offhanded, like, ‘your show puts us to sleep.’ But it’s a huge compliment to me. That is something Tom Cruise will never understand. He will always be a thousand times more famous than me—this is not a knock on him—it’s just different.”
Widespread fame has its perks though, I argue. I tell him about one of the concierge services available to his ilk, where you send your manager a message and tell them there’s a famous hot person you want to meet. Howertown is nonplussed. “I’ve done the ‘hey I’ve just seen this director’s movie and I loved it, can we get a meeting,’” he says, “but not for social purposes.” I tell him I’d just heard Lizzy Caplan met her husband that way. Saw him in a movie, called her manager and demanded his contact info, then emailed him. “Really? That’s badass,” he says, then adds, “It’d be way creepier if it was the other way, the guy doing that to her. That seems creepy. But if it’s her doing it to him, I’m like, that’s badass.”
Howerton continues to ponder all this: “I just think the world of Ryan Gosling,” he says. “I think he’s fantastic.” I’m encouraging of this idea, and point out that Gosling’s entire persona seems to be a galaxy-resounding I’m down to hang. This is how it happens. “I think he’s a fan of the show, actually? I know he knows the show,” Howerton says.
“So Ryan, if you’re reading this, let’s hang out, buddy.”