Ted Danson Interview – THE AMATUERS

     December 4, 2007




Opening up this Friday is a quirky comedy called “The Amateurs.” The movie is about a group of friends who decide to make an amateur adult movie. This is also known as a porno. The film has a pretty big cast which include Jeff Bridges, Ted Danson, William Fichtner, Patrick Fugit, Lauren Graham, Glenne Headly, Tim Blake Nelson, Joe Pantoliano, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Isaiah Washington, and Judy Greer.


So to help promote the movie, I recently got to sit down for roundtable interviews with both Ted Danson and Jeff Bridges. Posted below is the one with Ted.


During our Q & A, Ted spoke about getting the part, working on “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and he gave updates on all the other projects he’s involved with. It’s a solid interview and one worth reading…especially if you like “Curb,” as we spent a lot of time talking about Larry David.


And before getting to the interview…here’s the synopsis for “The Amateurs.”


Down-and-out divorcee Andy Sargentee (Jeff Bridges), with the help of his five motley friends, brainstorms a genius idea to make their dreams come true. They are going to rally their small town to produce an amateur adult film! They think they’ve found the road to fame and fortune, but their fantasy quickly turns into a hilarious misadventure as they encounter more than a few bumps in the road. Their good natured attempts lead to the creation of the most un-adult, adult film ever. See how “The Amateurs” bring an entire small town together, in the biggest comedic disaster turned boffo box office success.


Finally, if you missed the clips I previously posted you can watch them here. As always, if you’d like to listen to the MP3 of the interview just click here to download it. “The Amateurs” arrives in limited release this weekend.




QUESTION: WE HEAR THAT YOUR WIFE WAS YOUR AGENT ON THIS?


DANSON: Yeah.


QUESTION: HOW MUCH OF A PERCENTAGE DID SHE GET?


DANSON: I want to know why she didn’t recommend me for a Chuck Norris part. She recommended me for the gay guy.


QUESTION: COULD YOU ASK HER?


DANSON: I know the answer. The hormone count in my family is like a real delicate balance. I can talk fabric with the best of you guys, ladies.


QUESTION: THIS IS THE ANTI-SAM MALONE.


DANSON: That’s funny. I love Moose. God I love Moose. He loves people, he wants to be loved. This is me I’m describing. He just finds himself so interesting and just wants to be part of the group and I think his huge fear later in life and later in the film is that he won’t be able to hang out with the guys watching football. That’s the scariest thing for him. I don’t think he’s actually ever had sex. I think he went to a Broadway show when he was fifteen and that changed his life.


QUESTION: HOW WAS IT HANGING OUT ON SET WITH EVERYBODY? OBVIOUSLY IT WAS A SHORT SHOOT BUT JUST BEING ABLE TO HANG OUT WITH EVERYONE?


DANSON: You know, Jeff Bridges is one of my favorite people on the planet. I’ve known him kind of for a long time because his father took me and his mother under their wing and included me in stuff their family was doing periodically and was very sweet to me so I just have this huge fondness for the entire Bridges family and he is one of our best actors in America. He is hands down an amazing, amazing actor. And he has this exuberance of…it’s like his first movie. He rehearses, he gets everyone together, he makes sure that we all…he cares about the project. He worked on it with Michael Traeger before we all showed up. He had us over to his house for two or three days for sleepovers to get a buddy thing going. And he would ad lib and improvise before and during the take. I mean he was like this new young kid actor who couldn’t wait to get in front of the camera. And it was so contagious that we all had a great, great time. We had great parts and we had a great lead.


QUESTION: HOW DID YOU LIKE WORKING WITH MICHAEL?


DANSON: He was wonderful. He was new boy on the block and had that excitement of can’t believe this is all coming together and happening. Plus he looks like back then he could be producing a porno film. It was kind of good to have him around.


QUESTION: DO YOU REMEMBER WHEN YOU FIRST MET JEFF? JEFF SAID HE COULDN’T REMEMBER.


DANSON: No. Probably was at one of his Christmas parties, maybe, that his father insisted he invite us to. Something like that. It was probably like that. It’s been so long.




QUESTION: THIS IS YOUR FIRST ON SCREEN NUDITY AND HOW DID YOU PREPARE FOR THAT?


DANSON: Yeah and it won’t be the last. I’m so into taking my clothes off. Well, clearly I stopped working out and I ate a lot because I was really buff right before we started shooting. It was such a perfect thing to do to the character. It was so pathetically, sweetly, sadly funny. One of my least favorite things. I’ve never had to do it. I think my wife whispered to me as we were watching the film, ‘never again.’


QUESTION: HOW MANY TAKES DID THAT SCENE TAKE?


DANSON: I was standing around in the buff quite a while. To the point where they couldn’t get my clothes back on me. I was starting to enjoy the whole process. But as they do in the film, I love this group of losers, they all turn their back and cover their eyes. I think Joey peaked.


QUESTION: WHAT DID YOUR ACTUAL AGENT THINK OF YOU DOING THAT?


DANSON: I don’t know that they were paying close enough attention, maybe in hindsight they would have liked to have gotten in the editing room. But no I don’t think anyone…


QUESTION: DO YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF ADVENTUROUS IN TERMS OF THE ROLES YOU PICK?


DANSON: No. I just think that you…it’s like I don’t have this huge vast number of scripts in front of me to choose from so that it looks like I’m being clever or not clever about my choice. I really almost always take what I’m being offered, if it’s in the ballpark. And when you have a really funny, good script or you just have a good script, like ‘Damages’ was a great script, you have somebody like Glenn Close in ‘Damages’, you have somebody like Jeff Bridges in this and you just know in your heart of hearts you’re going to have fun with this character. That’s not a risky choice. It’s like just smart to be part of a great script with really good actors.


QUESTION: THIS SEASON MIGHT HAVE BEEN THE BEST ON ‘CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM’ AND YOU AND MARY WERE A HUGE PART OF IT. CAN YOU TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE SEASON AND WHY THIS WAS SUCH A GREAT SEASON?


DANSON: Yeah. I haven’t seen them all yet to be honest. I’m trying to think of some way to insult Larry because I know him well. He lived with us this summer. He’s totally, I hate telling him this, but I do, I am so proud to be part of a show that really changed the dynamic of half-hour comedy. I mean he really did lead the way into something new so that the traditional form is really hard to pull off now because of what he did. It’s like going to dinner with him, it’s a little scary because you don’t quite know how…if he’s going to talk in a little bit too loud of a voice or do something bizarre like a group of friends went down to Cabo for like two nights on New Years Eve just because we thought that would be fun. And so we went and there was a band there, a Mexican band doing music and he decided…they were playing Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’ or something and he decided to jump up with them and do the English translation to the horror of all us. This is really inappropriate and no one else found it funny in the crowd. But going out with him is always dangerous and you’re always trying to think of something insulting to say to him to make him laugh. And that’s the exact same thing you do when you go to work. So it’s one of the most relaxing jobs I’ve ever had. You just go play with Larry.


QUESTION: HOW CLOSE IS THE VERSION TO THE REAL YOU AND LARRY?


DANSON: Oh there are names…. This is Larry David. You don’t have a script and because you have fun and you all know each other, you don’t really care. You just kind of show up and, ‘what am I doing? Okay. Fine.’ Roll camera and you start doing this bizarre little dance. I never knew throughout this entire season that I’m the schmuck. I was in the scene where Lucy Lawless outside the dry cleaners and they’re talking and they point to me for me to come up and for about three or four takes I get there just in time for them to go, ‘hey, how are you doing?’ I go fine, do the scene, walk in. I missed timed it and came a little early in time to hear, ‘oh, god, here comes Danson. Yeah, what an asshole.’ And I didn’t realize this is going on throughout the entire season. Nice. Real nice.


QUESTION: WITH THE HOLIDAYS COMING UP, ARE THERE ANY FAMILY TRADITIONS YOU’RE LOOKING FORWARD TO?


DANSON: You know with four kids in their 20’s, all boyfriended and girlfriended up, just getting together as a group is a great joy. We used to have a tradition that we haven’t done in the last couple of years because we’ve been too scattered where my wife, the camp counselor, would basically dress us up and do this Christmas calendar that has actually been on TV, it’s quite famous now. And we called ourselves the ‘Dan Burgen Dancers.’ And we didn’t dance, we struck dance poses and we would do the 12 days of Christmas, different scenes and we would tour and we had just been back from Guam where we got rave reviews. We did this behind the scene DVD of the Dan-Burgen Dancers. It became this elaborate thing with wardrobe, catering and it became quite an underground hit, but we haven’t done it for a while.


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QUESTION: WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU?


DANSON: Picket line.


QUESTION: WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THAT?


DANSON: I come late to the conversation and naturally became more involved and I went ‘oh, jeez, this is affecting me. Wait a minute.’ But it obviously is a conversation that needs to take place now. The writers are going first but everyone else is going to have the same conversation so we probably should all be out there and most actors are because what do you do with this new technology? What do you do with cell phones and all these other things?


QUESTION: ISN’T IT HARD THOUGH WHEN YOU’RE NOT SURE WHERE IT’S GOING TO GO NEXT?


DANSON: Yeah. But it should be discussed and I think underlining it and coming to a halt and saying, wait, wait, wait, wait. We had this conversation about VCR, videotape and it didn’t quite pan out the way you said it would. We need to have a conversation. I think it’s the real thing to do.


QUESTION: DO YOU HAVE ANY HOPE THAT IT’LL BE RESOLVED BEFORE YOU HAVE TO GO ON STRIKE?


DANSON: Boy, I have no idea. I sure hope so because obviously it’s not just actors, directors, writers. It’s all the service industries, it’s the entire town. You know and I guess strikes are impossible and will never be solved right up until they are. I mean that’s part of negotiating. In other words, I have no idea. None.


QUESTION: NEXT YEAR WILL BE 15 YEARS SINCE ‘CHEERS.’ ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT REUNION SHOWS OR ANYTHING?


DANSON: It came up in different times. One of us will be feeling desperate about their life and so far they’ve been wisely resisted it. I used to make jokes but now it’s getting a little closer to the bone of waiting until we’re all in our 70’s to come back. That would be funny. Now that we’re closer I’m not sure it’s so amusing.


QUESTION: HOW ABOUT A FEATURE FILM?


DANSON: No. You know I think the writers, the creators, Jimmy, Les and Glen rightfully so feel protective of something that’s kind of perfect.


QUESTION: DO YOU STILL HAVE THE BAR IN YOUR HOUSE?


DANSON: No. Did I? I’m big on other people’s memorabilia, I mean I love looking at photos. For some reason I never do it myself.


QUESTION: ARE YOU IN THE SECOND SEASON OF ‘DAMAGES?’


DANSON: Don’t know yet. I desperately kept my eyes open as long as I could waiting for them to yell cut, but you haven’t seen me in it yet so never mind. I don’t know.


QUESTION: ‘CURB’ AFTER LAST SEASON THERE WAS A LOT OF TALK IT WAS GOING TO BE OVER. ANY CHANCE WE’RE GOING TO SEE ANOTHER SEASON? WHEN DID YOU WRAP LAST SEASON?


DANSON: I think Larry should go around trying to mooch off his friends after his divorce and be miserable, make us miserable like he did. I think he has so much material he has to do another season.


QUESTION: IT WAS ALMOST AS IF THIS WHOLE THING IN HIS LIFE GAVE HIM MORE CREATIVITY.


DANSON: Yeah.


QUESTION: WHEN DID YOU WRAP?


DANSON: He was editing by June or something like that. So it’s been a while. It takes him a long time because there’s no script. If you ever, ever gets for ‘Best Writing.’


QUESTION: HAVE YOU CONFRONTED HIM ON WHAT HE DID TO YOUR CHARACTER THIS SEASON?


DANSON: No.


QUESTION: ARE YOU GOING TO?


DANSON: No. Because it’s too funny. It’s a good funny. Woody Harrelson did that to me once. He was in a film, remember ‘Doc Hollywood?’ The hicks finally come back with Michael J. Fox’s character, Hollywood. He hadn’t been to Hollywood and he was so excited. And they’re sitting in this cafÇ and I’d seen this in a screening, the premiere, sitting behind Woody and all of a sudden, the characters in the film go, ‘Oh, look, is that a movie star?’ And the other character goes, ‘No, that’s Ted Danson.’ And I found myself laughing a little too loud.


QUESTION: I LOVED YOUR PERFORMANCE ON ‘BECKER.’ I WAS WONDERING IF YOU HAD IT IN YOU TO DO ANOTHER CHARACTER FOR SUCH A LONG RUN?


DANSON: I don’t know. FX kind of feels, that cable season kind of feels good. Five and a half months. You know 22 episodes now, and half-hour means 22 minutes, to tell a story in 22 minutes is pretty hard. I think ‘The Office’ is brilliant, the way they’ve handled that, how to tell a story in a relaxed funny way in 22 minutes. They’re brilliant. But I don’t know, never say never and all that. I think I’d rather go off and do lots of characters and stuff like that. Do a play with Mary.


QUESTION: WHAT’S LARRY LIKE NOW THAT HE’S SINGLE?


DANSON: Thank god I don’t know. I am so happy to be able to tell you I don’t have the foggiest. That’s scary, isn’t it? Little scary.


QUESTION: YOU’VE GOT TWO FILMS COMING OUT, ONE YOU DID A VOICEOVER AND THEN ‘MAD MONEY.’


DANSON: ‘Mad Money’ and ‘Amateurs’ and voiceover?


QUESTION: I HEARD RUMOR THAT YOU WERE THE VOICE IN SOMETHING?


DANSON: Sad. Very, very sad. I narrate a lot of crap.


QUESTION: WHAT’S ‘MAD MONEY’ ABOUT?


DANSON: ‘Mad Money’ is Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah and Katie Holmes under the leadership of Diane decide to, they’re janitors or paper shredders at a Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City and it’s based on a true thing that happened in England. Diane Keaton realizes that they can steal money just before it goes into the shredder and they’re in essence stealing nothing. They’re stealing something that doesn’t exist and I play her very panicky at the though, out of work, slightly excited by what she’s doing husband.


QUESTION: BASED ON A TRUE STORY?


DANSON: Yeah. It happened evidently in England that there were three women who did do this for real to their equivalent of a Federal Reserve.


QUESTION: WHAT WAS IT LIKE WORKING WITH HER?


DANSON: She’s great. People have been…not that she’s been around a long time, but people who make careers that have, like Jeff, there’s a reason why these people are still around. They really love the process. She’s another one, it’s like you show up and she’s working it. She is preparing, doing her thing, focused, concentrated, cares deeply. Diane would rather die than admit any of that, but she is the ultimate pro so it’s really fun. And Queen Latifah has the heart the size of…you know. And Katie was absolutely delightful, very sweet, very wonderful and very funny in this film. And yes she was visited by her husband, Tom. And they were, it was so bizarre to sit there and go the market and pass by the tabloids and see the horrible things that were happening to Katie and Tom and then go to the set and there they would be like normal loving parents having a good time with their daughter. It’s so bizarre this culture we live in. They were nothing but polite and accessible and fun to be with.


QUESTION: ARE YOU SUPPORTING A PARTICULAR CANDIDATE?


DANSON: Yeah! My wife is best friends for years with the Clintons and besides that friendship, well maybe this isn’t the forum, but besides that friendship I do believe that we are in a very destabilized time and you need the smartest guy in the room and she happens to be. This time it happens to be a woman. I think she’s incredibly powerful, incredibly bright and unbelievably prepared so yes I am.


QUESTION: DO YOU THINK SHE HAS A GOOD CHANCE?


DANSON: Yeah. Yeah. I’m beyond hope. I really do believe she will be our next President and I’m grateful for that because I do believe it’s time for this country to be loved again around the world. It’s not good for the world not to love America. And it’s been very hard to do that.




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