Thanks to a little show called “Cheers,” Ted Danson was already a big star and a household name when he first met an up-and-coming actress named Glenn Close on the set of “Something About Amelia” in 1983. But the self-effacing actor doesn’t quite remember it that way. “I was completely star-struck,” he recalls. “She’d just done ‘The World According to Garp,’ and I was knocked out by her performance. Clearly she was this serious, well-trained actor, and it’s so exciting when you play with people who are really well-trained, really talented and who you respect because of the work you’ve seen them do. So I was thrilled to be working with her.”
Danson notes that “Something About Amelia” “had lots of traps because it was dealing with a very controversial subject — incest. It was a very serious set, there weren’t a lot of giggle moments, and it was also one of those projects that could have been plain bad.”
Instead, the landmark TV movie racked up eight Emmy nominations, including two for its leads (Danson also won a Golden Globe) and became the gold standard for MOWs dealing with sexually explicit and controversial material. Danson stresses that much of the credit for the project’s success “was due to Glenn’s input and performance. As she still does today, she really raised the level of the people around her. It’s like tennis; play with someone better than you, and you tend to play better than ever. Glenn has that effect on people around her.
When you look at the sheer variety of work she’s done over the years, it’s quite astounding. She’s an amazing actor.”
Over the years, the Gotham-based Close and the L.A.-based Danson remained friends, “although we didn’t see each other that often,” he reports. “She did a play with Woody (Harrelson), there was the odd Larry Kasdan dinner, but basically we were both so busy and never had the chance to work together again.”
That all changed when Danson was cast opposite Close in “Damages.”
“Glenn herself hasn’t changed at all,” he says. “She’s still doing the same thing she did at the very start of her career. She loves the work and she’s very easy on a set, and very responsive and a lot of fun to be around. When I first heard about this new pilot, and that there might be something in it for me, just the fact that Glenn was in it made me want to go and meet the writers and get involved. It was just like ‘Amelia’ all those years ago — she’s one of those special people that once she’s attached to a project, suddenly the whole thing gets elevated to this new place. And you get all these other actors who want to play with her, and then directors want to come and work, and it all becomes this very exciting, creative situation.”