Ted Danson's returned to TV! This time he's heading up the Las Vegas division of “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” as the show enters its 12th season this fall.
While you may still have visions of Ted trading zingers with the bar regulars on “Cheers,” the funnyman has been tapping into his dramatic side over the past few years. Danson, 63, received critical acclaim for his role as a deadly billionaire on FX’s “Damages,” and worked the satire route on the HBO series “Bored to Death.” As D.B Russell, CSI's newest crime lab supervisor, he's learning a whole new language.
"You can almost see smoke coming out of my ears as I wrap my brain around all the technology, but it's really fun," Danson says. He insists that doing drama is a lot more relaxing than playing it for laughs. "Comedy is hard," he declares. "It's 'this is not funny, this is not funny, this is not funny,' and you have to find the right funny every day. When you do a drama, it's the writing, the editing, the directing and the director of photography that makes the drama. All you have to do is show up and be real in the moment, that's your job."
The son of an archaeologist, Danson has had some personal experience with the insides of the human body. "When I 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 still on it,” he shares. Ted and his friends tossed around their find for a while before heading home and telling his father. "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 Ted's buddies found the skull and brought it back to his friend's father. "A team recreated the face with clay and sketches, released the description in the newspaper, and the man was identified. That's my CSI story from a kid. Isn't that cool?"
Ted hasn't lost his fascination with remains. To prep for his CSI role, he sat in on an autopsy. "It was like sticking my finger in a light socket. I was vibrating for days," Ted declares. "I was holding somebody's skull cap while they weighed his brain. It was intensely real … it had kind of a spiritual impact on me. I went back to the hotel and said thank you body, thank you. Thanks for everything you do."
Joining an hour-long drama means that Ted is back to a daily work schedule. "Weeks ago, I was staring at the ocean in Martha's Vineyard, kind of humming to myself. I went from a gentleman actor to this," he says with a laugh, before reflecting on his 16-year marriage to actress Mary Steenburgen. "It's going to be an adjustment. Mary and I love sitting around and making each other laugh all day. This will be new and different because Mary has a show in Nashville. We'll have to work to find each other. "
Still, he's making it a priority to have a steady quitting time on the new job. "One of the perks is that I get to be home. One of our kids is having a baby so I get to be a grandfather at home. That's why I love going to work every day in an ensemble piece. It's such a bright show –the number one show in the world, and that's pretty astounding."
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on CBS.
Delaina Dixon is a writer and editor who loves reporting on all aspects of celebrity lifestyle. You can see more of her work, with her own dash of DIVAness, at www.divagalsdaily.com.