Fresh Faces: Charlie Day

It's a crisp, breezy day in Long Beach, and Charlie Day is diving, over and over again, into the cold and not exactly crystal-clear water of the marina for a scene on the FX comedy "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia." Day may be an executive producer on the series, which he and costars-cowriters Rob McElhenney and Glenn Howerton developed from a modest video in 2005. But today he's doing what's been described as "Charlie work."

That's "Charlie," as in his character, Charlie Kelly — the intellectually challenged, chemically impaired, lovably loser-ish co-owner of the bar Paddy's in the City of Brotherly Love, who always seems to draw the short straw — rather than Charlie Day, the Rhode Island-reared actor who's making his way from TV into movies with a role in the romantic comedy "Going the Distance." In the film, due Aug. 27, Day plays a roommate of Justin Long's Garrett, an assistant music scout who must deal with a long-distance relationship when his girlfriend, Erin ( Drew Barrymore), moves to San Francisco for school while he stays in Manhattan.

Those who know "Philadelphia" should instantly recognize similarities between Day's characters on the small and large screens.

"I don't think they are going to be surprised too much," Day says of the role of Dan. "I'm not doing a Capt. Jack Sparrow…."

"I think the difference is, there's a little bit more heart in this movie than in ‘It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.' I mean, Dan is very Charlie-esque — don't worry, I'm not talking about myself in the third person; I mean, the character — at least for three-quarters of the film … but there's also the message to pursue the actual love of your life."

It's no surprise the lines between Day's eccentric characters and his not-nearly-as-eccentric real life are blurred. After all, Day, 34, is married to Mary Elizabeth Ellis, who plays a coffee-shop waitress on "Philadelphia" with whom Charlie is obsessed. And before the couple were married in 2006, they appeared on the Comedy Central show " Reno 911!" — as inbred twins.

scott.sandell@latimes.com

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