Ted Danson, ‘Damages’

Supporting men in Emmy contention

Ted Danson’s legally beleaguered Arthur Frobisher on FX’s “Damages” might seem suave and in control at times, but Danson sees him as something else: a bumbling idiot.

“He’s like a bull in a china shop,” he says.

The target of a seasonlong lawsuit by Glenn Close’s Patty Hewes, Frobisher, an executive who sold off his company stocks prior to the business going under at the cost of his employees’ life savings, sees nothing wrong with his behavior.

“I love playing this kind of narcissist that is just in way over his head. He falls into that type of character I seem to play a lot, someone way out of his league. As far as he’s concerned, it’s clearly Arthur World.”

The show follows the net’s model of serialized story arcs that allow for rich character development, something which appealed to the actor.

“I loved that it wasn’t simply a 45-minute plot-driven show, where it’s very hard to reach into your character. This allows you to really get to see that kind of gray area, where bad guys do good things and good people do bad things.”

Playing a villainous character who doesn’t know he’s evil in many ways is a challenge, Danson says, particularly when you don’t know if your role might become more heinous from one week to the next.

“With any part, your job is to defend the character like a lawyer, without judging them or pulling back in any way,” Danson says.

Yet when Frobisher began crossing the line into even darker activities, the actor found himself shaken. “I was disappointed. I’d been defending this guy, thinking, ‘It’s OK, he’s very human,’ but he’s making wrong choices.”

The last time audiences saw Arthur, he was lying in a field, having been shot by a disgruntled employee. Does that mean Danson is off the series when it returns for season two? Or is he coming back?

“I may or may not. That’s what the writers are telling me.”

Favorite scene: When Hewes irks Frobisher in a deposition by digging at his failure in his marriage. “That was, like, 14 pages that we got about 9 o’clock the night before. Glenn’s character doesn’t mess around. She’ll take you off at the knees.”

What you like most about your character: “I like that quality of his being the narcissist who’s in way over his head.”

TV guilty pleasure: “Sadly, they’re all reality shows. It’s a tie between ‘American Idol’ and ‘The Biggest Loser.’ My wife is leading me down this path of guilty pleasures, but I am, willingly, going down it.”

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