Ted Danson may have portrayed the happy-go-lucky Sam Malone on Cheers, but according to one guest star, he hated being on set.
Emma Thompson appeared in the Primetime Emmy-winning series as Nanny Gee, also known as Nanette Guzman, in one 1992 episode. While speaking at the Royal Television Society conference in Cambridge, she remembered meeting Danson and instantly recognizing how unhappy he was.
Thompson described Danson as “one of the nicest people in the world” before explaining that he felt obligated to stick with Cheers, despite wanting to quit and expand his career. The classic TV show lasted 11 seasons, and Danson thought he missed out on countless opportunities while staying committed to his character.
“I can remember going on doing a tiny little part in Cheers,” she said, per Variety. “And I just remember meeting Ted Danson, one of the nicest people in the world, and one of the most unhappy because he’d been doing it for so long. And I remember looking at him and thinking, ‘Why are you so unhappy?’ And it was because he wanted to be able to do other things, but this has defined him for such a long time he couldn’t get out.”
The two-time Oscar winner continued by saying that when you join a television series, you need to continue playing the same character if the project is successful. Or, at least, that’s how Danson felt.
“I personally wouldn’t have developed what I’ve developed, in that I wouldn’t have the longevity that I have had,” she continued. “And I think that’s because I don’t like to have a comfort zone. I think I’m much more creative — and lots of people are more creative — when they’re not just repeating themselves.”
Ted Danson Won Two Primetime Emmys While Starring on ‘Cheers’
Fortunately, Danson’s career did not die with Cheers. If anything, it sent him into Hollywood ready to become a bigger star. After earning two Emmys with the series, he went on to play in dozens of series and movies. He even managed to star in several movies while working on the series.
Some of Ted Danson’s most famous projects include Three Men and a Little Lady, Becker, and Body Heat. He was also a main character in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and appeared in three more of the franchise’s shows. More recently, he held major roles in The Good Place and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Though, the latter may not be considered a “role” considering he played himself.
While Thompson believed Ted Danson was unhappy playing on Cheers, you’d never know by watching the series. You can judge for yourself by binging it on Amazon Prime.
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