A big ask: Ted Danson
Gabriel Tate talks 'King Lear', Larry David and autopsies with the 'CSI' and 'Cheers' star
Would you make a better crime scene investigator, or a better barman?
‘Barman. I’m at the right age to work with dead people, but you have to be smart to be a CSI.’
Was it daunting being ‘CSI’s’ new guy?
‘It would have been horribly embarrassing to bring this long-running show to its knees, but everyone was really welcoming. It looked effortless on the outside, at least! I went from looking at the ocean from my porch in New England to participating in a real-life quadruple autopsy in Las Vegas, within a week. it was like being shot out of a cannon.’
First powerful piece of TV?
‘I got my first television at Stanford when I was 20, and I used to watch “The Dick Van Dyke Show”. He played my father on “Becker” and he’s still one of my heroes. Along with John Cleese, he’s my favourite physical comedian.’
Which dramatic role do you covet?
‘I’ve never been that guy who says, “Ooh, I have to play King Lear’. First off, that’d be a disaster anyway. I tend to read something and see who’s involved, and then know I want to be part of it. But I don’t think I’m through with comedy. I still love to make people laugh.’
Does Larry David still call?
‘I haven’t heard from him for about a year, so I’m slightly offended. When he got divorced, he stayed in our guesthouse for months on end – the guest that would never leave. I guess familiarity breeds contempt…’
Most memorable audition?
‘“Cheers” was great. They paired me up with Shelley Long on this tiny bar set for the final audition. That was my first really big one, and we just clicked instantly – I still think I got the part because of Shelley.’
Weirdest story you’ve heard about yourself?
‘Wikipedia isn’t vetted, but journalists still use it – I’ve had CNN ask me about a scotch whiskey from mississippi that I apparently make called Danson’s Own.’
Who would you interview on your own chat show?
‘I’d get Jesus, Mohammed and Buddha in a room and say, “C’mon fellas, let’s work this out!”’
Piece of work you’re least proud of?
‘A Baltimore bank commercial that was the first thing I ever did, and almost ended my career. I did 40 takes. It was before wireless microphones, so there was this big wire running down my pantleg and a powerpack around my ankle. Even if I got the words right, they’d say I was walking like Frankenstein because I was dragging this cable around. at least I knew things couldn’t get any worse.’
‘CSI’, Tuesdays, 9pm, C5; ‘Cheers’, weekdays, 6pm, CBS Drama