The first season of FX's outstanding Damages is now out on DVD (shop Amazon), ultimately raising the question for even more people: Will Arthur Frobisher live to snort more you-know-what off you-know-which-part of you-know-who? TVGuide.com asked Ted Danson to weigh in on his Golden Globe-nominated and deliciously villainous run... and whether it might continue.
TVGuide.com: First of all, congratulations on your Golden Globe nod. How does it feel to knock one out of the park on a brand-new cable drama?
Ted Danson: Your words, not mine, but I'll go along with it and say, "Fantastic!" It feels fantastic. I have to say that it almost feels like it rejuvenated my interest in acting. I had a ball. It was so beautifully written that if I hadn't done well with the part, shame on me.
TVGuide.com: Was this complex, strangely sympathetic character always on the page, or was that something you worked with the writers to achieve?
Danson: For me, I showed up to work and there would be this amazing script. Some of my baggage as an actor — "Oh, it's good ol' Ted. We can relax. He's a nice guy" — probably served the character well, and probably encouraged them to go darker and darker. [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: Frobisher started off in one direction, but then by the third episode we were like, "Wow. I'm kind of feeling for this guy." And then when he had that meltdown in the ghost writer's apartment, you almost felt bad for him — as awful as he was being.
Danson: I know. That's the fun of those writers. They really wanted to play him in that gray area. And Glenn Close is this brilliant actress whose baggage is, "Oooh, she's a little scary because we've seen her do bad things," but here she is on the side of the law. She does terrible things, but she's after justice. Our baggage served both of our parts in a funny way.
TVGuide.com: People look at Glenn Close and think, "Psycho leaping out of a bathtub," and they look at you and think, "Nice guy Sam Malone."
Danson: Exactly. So we both got to do things that played into that area of gray, where good people do bad things and bad people do good things.
TVGuide.com: Was there any tycoon or public figure in the back of your mind as you created Frobisher?
Danson: No. No. But what I did do was I met a handful of CEOs. The producers all encouraged me and set up meetings with them — some retired, some active, some heads of very, very large companies. The benefit of that was they all came in different shapes and sizes, and they all had different styles and personalities.
TVGuide.com: Plus they all paid for lunch.
Danson: And they all paid for lunch! [Laughs] Another thing that was interesting was this study that made a comparison between CEOs of big companies and sociopaths in prison. The thing they had in common was it was hard for some of them to read the impact they had on other people emotionally. I met this one CEO who said he experienced that himself, so he hired someone to be his right-hand man and say, "Listen, you're misreading that set of emotions over there."
TVGuide.com: Did you ever on your own accord create any subtext between Frobisher and Patty Hewes? I know that many viewers feel there was something "there" that was never spelled out. Some even hypothesized that the car accident he was involved in killed a sister of hers or something....
Danson: I love that. I love that. That's so great. That's the beauty of this series, that they do have so many loose ends that are actually justifiable when they tie them up. That keeps you wondering all those things.
TVGuide.com: What is your most favorite "colorful" scene of Frobisher's, and might it involve him snorting coke off a hooker's bosom?
Danson: [Laughs] I tell you, what was great about that scene was beforehand I was going, "Well, this is a nice guy." Sure, he pumped up his stock and dumped it. That's illegal and wrong, but I can "justify" that. It happens all the time. Then the second script arrives and over the course of an eighth of a page I'm snorting coke and having sex with a hooker in the back of my Escalade, and then telling someone to go kill somebody else. In one eighth of a page!
TVGuide.com: What are they going to do with Frobisher now? When I debriefed the producers at the end of the season, they had outlined two ways to go — one where he died out there in the field, and another where he survives the gunshot. Have you heard anything?
Danson: I think it depends on if I ask for too much money. [Laughs] No, I have no idea, because as soon as they got picked up for two years, the strike was under way, so there was no communication allowed.
TVGuide.com: When would the show resume production?
Danson: Two and a half months from whenever the strike is over. It will probably take them that long. Would I like to work with them again? Oh my god, yes. Should I, will I...? We'll find out.
TVGuide.com: Do you think it'd be a stretch to have him survive?
Danson: Those guys are so, so bright, I could never possibly second-guess them. I would hate for [Frobisher] to be an "addendum." He was so brilliant in his arc this year, it'd be too bad if it was added just because we had so much fun together. That's not necessarily a reason to keep him going. But I'm open to it because I so respected them and it was the best thing I've done in years. I'm open for anything, but you also have to ask: Is it better for Glenn [Close] to have new meat every year? [Laughs]
Send your comments on this Q&A to firstname.lastname@example.org.