Ted Danson Struggled to Play Sam Malone on Cheers
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Ted Danson Struggled to Play Sam Malone on Cheers


-Welcome back. -I’m actually more used to
sitting here across from you than I am seeing you
out in the real world. -I know.
-It’s strange. -It’s very strange, yeah,
because we’ve been lucky enough to run into each other in
the real world, but it’s been a while. But you did — you actually got to hang out with
my son this summer. -Ashe. -Yeah, because you and Mary are
friends with my in-laws. -Yes. -And you were at
a sporting event that my wife brought
my 2-year-old son to. -Pig racing.
-Pig racing. This is a true thing. -Yeah, mini pigs.
Like, many mini pigs in a race. And they even had a trough
that had water in it. So they’d race a couple times,
then jump in and swim. And the motivation was
a plate — true — of Oreos. -Really? That’s how you get a pig to run?
-Yeah. Yeah. -And, so, do they
run around a track? A lap? -Once.
-Okay. -So it’s like,
“And they’re off!” Wasn’t that great?” -So that seems like —
-But let’s go back to Ashe. -Yeah.
-What a wonderful young man. -Wonderful young man. And I will tell you, though, he’s a wonderful kid
and I love him, but he told me
about the pig race, and there were almost none
of those details. As a 2-year-old,
basically all he could tell me was they were pigs. -You want to know why?
-Why? -Because he blocked it. Because to be entertaining
with such a short race, the guy who had the pigs made up
all these horrible names, like Baco Bits and
Little Bacon Running, you know, and things like that. And I’m sure it just,
you know, horrified him. -Yeah, well, ’cause that’s
a real reminder to the children there that
these will eventually be food. -Yeah. -“And, by the way, we’re eating
all of them, even the winner. Like, nobody can run their way
out of their fates here, yeah.” -Oreo-basted pig. -If you taste a piece of bacon that has a little bit of Oreo
in it, that was your winner. Yeah, that was your winner. Look, any one of
the Emmys is a winner, so I don’t want this
to be hard on you, but you were nominated
for an Emmy. -That was good.
I almost believed that. -Yeah, so,
you were at the Emmys. -Yes, I was. -Nominated for your work on
“The Good Place,” as well you should be. How was your Emmy experience? -Well, you know, you’re very philosophical
and calm and relaxed, right up until about
2 minutes before they call your name —
or don’t… -Yeah. -…and for about 5 minutes
afterwards, if they don’t, where you’re busy scrambling
to be philosophical, you know, and see whether or not
you’re believable when you, “Oh, yeah. No, no.
That’s a great choice. I told you.”
You know, that kind of stuff. And then we waited for
the commercial to be polite. And they have seat fillers,
so no one knows — First off, no one
even knows you’re there, ’cause we’re all
so self-absorbed. -Right.
-You know, it doesn’t matter. So, we —
Or at least this one is. So, we got up and went to this great restaurant
in downtown L.A. -So that was it. You were out. -7:00,
I was fairly well-hammered on a couple of tequilas
with Mary, you know, and went home,
and we were in bed by 9:00. Just had the best evening. -That’s amazing.
-Yeah. -I will say it is —
With the Creative Arts Emmys, which is the week before,
our writing staff was nominated, and it was the first award
of a three-hour night. And our writing —
I wasn’t there, but our whole
writing staff was there. And they announced it. We lost. And, immediately, one of
the guys — -[ Coughing ] Loser.
Sorry. -Yeah, no, that’s fine.
It’s fine. Again, I wasn’t there.
-No, no, no, no. -I mean, I wasn’t a sucker
who actually went. [ Laughs ] [ Cheers and applause ] -Hey!
-Hey! We are friends! -You know who else was
a sucker was — Larry David was sitting right
in front of me. -Well that was —
I will say I really enjoyed it, ’cause there was a shot. I was aware you were there
because, oh, you know, I’m lucky enough to know you I’m lucky enough
to know Larry a little bit. Did Larry stay? I would assume
he would also leave. -I think he had to do a bit.
-Oh, he did have to do a bit. -He had to present.
-He had to present. -Right.
-Now, that’s the true sucker. -So he didn’t get home until… -Yeah, that is like —
So, you stay, you lose, and then you
still have to do stuff. -When he came up right before
the show started, he goes —
he looked at me and went, “You and I have a
1-in-100 chance of winning.” I went, “That’s not true,” harboring the thought
that I might win. -Yeah. -He was right.
-Yeah. Yeah, you were like,
“That’s not true, Larry. You have a 1-in-100 chance.” I want to mention “Cheers” and I want to talk to you more
to you after the commercial. But “The Good Place” had a fantastic
season finale at Season 2. [ Cheers and applause ]
-Are you watching? -And there was
a wonderful moment. And, obviously, the creator
of the show, Mike Schur, is a huge “Cheers” fan, as are
millions and millions of people. But he put you back
behind the bar. Your character got to
stand behind the bar. And for anyone who’s
a fan of television, that was a — You know, it was
a real goose-bumps moment. Did you feel immediately natural
being behind the bar again? -No.
-Okay. -No, seriously. It took me a year and a half of
playing “Cheers,” Sam Malone. My voice changed just now.
I’m starting to quaver. I’m getting nervous and sick.
I never went to bars. I was the guy who — I never
picked up women kind of thing. The woman would have to be
standing naked in front of me, and I would go, “Me?” You know? So playing Sam Malone was an anathema to me
for the longest time. So going back was —
All of a sudden, I was full of insecurity and
just felt horrible. -It did not look horrible, but I guess that’s
acting right there, yeah. -No, you can —
If you watch the scene, you’ll notice that I would try
to remember, “What did I do? Oh, I used wash shot glasses. Yeah. And then I have
a towel over my shoulder. Yeah, I’ll do the towel thing.” And you can see the towel
come up and down like 40 times. -It’s actually funny.
I had never thought about that. But when you said, Sam Malone
was always washing shot glasses. That seems like — And I don’t think anyone
on that show ever did a shot. -No. Beer.
-Beer. Everybody drank beer. -Yeah.
I went to bartender school and worked my little butt off
to learn how to make drinks. And the first month
of shooting, I was making Manhattans and grasshoppers
and all sorts of weird drinks. And then it dawned on me, they
didn’t give a [bleep] about — They want their jokes said well
and on time, you know? And they’re shooting you
above your hands, so all you see is this,
so I went… -And the towel.
We all loved the towel. That was so great.

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