Ted Danson Getting Cheers for CSI Role
It’s a long way from being bartender Sam Malone on the long-running Cheers sitcom to the chief investigative officer on the procedural drama CSI. But Ted Danson has made that leap.
This season Danson took on the role of forensic scientist D.B. Russell, the new supervisor on the hit CBS series CSI. He also has roles on the cable shows Bored to Death and Damages.
Despite having done some dramas over the years, Danson said he was surprised when they asked him to join CSI, which has been on the air 11 years.
“I was surprised, thrilled and happy,” he reported. “Even though I’ve never played a detective. Trying to hold a crazy group of people together, whether they’re crazy bright or crazy silly, is something that I’ve done before and I respond to.”
He said, “Somebody pointed out to me that a sense of humor takes a certain kind of intelligence. And it’s the same brain that looks for clues and solved things. So I feel at home in a funny way, even though I’m not doing jokes. I really feel like I have walked into this perfect situation for me.”
Playing someone who deals with bodies and autopsies is nothing new to Danson, who said he is the son of an archaeologist who went on digs in Arizona.
“I grew up around skulls,” Danson revealed with glee. “My father was an archaeologist/anthropologist in Tucson and then later in Flagstaff. And we would go on these digs. At about five-years-old, I would get to play around in the ancient trash heaps, and you would find a skull, and you would be whisked away.”
Danson delighted in telling the story of a “CSI adventure” he had when he was 11-years-old. “I was out playing with my buddies in the woods. We were playing army, and we came across a skull that had a patch of hair, and the archaeologist’s son went, ‘Oh, cool. Let’s play Roman and Gauls.’ Stuck it on the end of a pole, and off we went for the rest of the day. I came home and told my father and he went through the roof. We went looking for it with the police the next day and couldn’t find it.”
Five years later, one of his buddies was up hiking in the same area, found that same skull again. Danson remembered, “He brought it back to the museum where my father was working, put molding clay on it and then drew a sketch of what the face would have looked like. They put it in the newspaper, and they identified him. That’s my little CSI story from a kid. Isn’t that cool?”
On the personal side, Danson said he has had “a blessed, amazing life.” Over the years, he and his wife, actress Mary Steenburgen, have been strong advocates of ecology, and are heavily involved in the “save the earth” and “save the oceans” circles.