Cheers defined Ted Danson’s career in many ways, and the actor is definitely grateful for the role. However, playing hooky one day on the set led to what Danson calls “the worst day of my life.”
Danson talks about the day he skipped work on Cheers to hang out with his bro-stars in an oral history of the famous NBC series in the new GQ. He says that he played hooky one day with Woody Harrelson, George Wendt, and John Ratzenberger, though doesn’t recall it fondly.
“Shelley [Long] and Rhea [Perlman] were carrying that week’s episode, and the guys were just, ‘Let’s play hooky.’ We’d never done anything wrong before. John had a boat, so we met at Marina del Rey at 8 A.M. We all called in sick, and Jimmy [producer James Burrows] caught on and was so pissed.”
“Woody and I were already stoned, and Woody said, ‘You want to try some mushrooms?’ I’d never had them, so I’m handed this bag and I took a fistful,” Danson continued. “On our way to Catalina, we hit the tail end of a hurricane, and even people who were sober were getting sick. Woody and I thought we were going to die for three hours. I sat next to George, and every sixty seconds or so he’d poke me and go, ‘Breathe.’ And I’d come back to life.”
Danson and Harrelson weren’t the only ones who caused some trouble off-set, notes The Wrap. Producer Dan Shannon, who now executive produces Modern Family, said that Kelsey Grammer would “ooze into the studio, his life all out of sorts.”
“Jimmy would say ‘Action,’ and he would snap into Frasier and expound in this very erudite dialogue and be pitch-perfect,” Shannon said. “And Jimmy would yell ‘Cut!’ and he would ooze back into Kelsey — glazed-over eyes, half asleep, going through whatever he was going through. It was the most amazing transformation I’ve ever seen.”
Did you watch Cheers? Did you ever think that all of these shenanigans were going on behind the scenes?