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'Damages' preview: Ted Danson reveals Frobisher is about to turn

February 25, 2009 |  8:00 am

ForbisherSpoiler alert: Do not read further if you want to go into tonight's episode of "Damages" completely in the dark. (Just come back and read afterward!)

Of course, we all saw this coming.

"Damages" tycoon Arthur Frobisher isn't long for his born-again, staff-holding ways. Without blowing exactly what happens, Ted Danson chats about Frobisher's change of heart in tonight's episode, finding the humor in Patty's nemesis and getting lost in the maze that is "Damages."

Well, that didn't take long. Frobisher's going to kick the religion and go back to his old ways, isn't he?
It's kind of perfect that way though, isn't it? I do love that he found religion this year, he went all Eastern, but it's also the narcisist finding religion. It's like the addict who has all of a sudden found God but really hasn't done the work.

I love that he cries a lot this year, too. He's a crier.

Was crying in the script?
No, actually. I thought it was appropriate. I talked to people who had major heart surgery or who had come back from the brink and they said their emotions were just on their sleeve, they couldn't control it. I thought to myself, "Well, that'd be fun for this guy."

Last season he was all intensity. This time, he does provide a little comic relief.
All my career, I've kind of gravitated toward, been amused by, and empathized with those kind of wounded people who don't really see themselves fully. I find it kind of sad, tragic, but also kind of funny. I think Sam Malone obviously was very funny, but there was also a sadness to him. Frobisher is definitely sad, but there's something also very funny about him. He's the narcisist who thinks he's got the world by the tail but doesn't realize there's this 100-ton monster standing behind him in the form of Patty. He's so over his head, but he doesn't get it because he's such a narcisist. I think it's hilarious. And I love playing that kind of stuff. It's sad, it's human and there's still something dark and funny about it. 

Do you think then that it's strange that he's going to snap back so fast?
Look, it's great to be philosophical and all that, but when it comes down to bodily harm being involved -- bam -- he's right back to where he was! It makes sense.

Did you talk with the writers about where Frobisher would be headed this season?
I didn't, no. I was so happy with where they went that I just didn't. There's part of me that thinks of myself as one of those actors that falls into bad acting traps very easily -- the least amount I know about where a character is going, the less likely that I'll play the result, because I don't know what it will be.

Was it tough keeping the plots straight while you were shooting? The stories and characters this season seem a lot more tangled up versus last season.
That's the thing, it was totally hopeless trying. You just show up trusting that the writers are pretty sly and wondefully bright people. You trust them and you just stay in the moment and let the words do the work. But for Frobisher, not knowing the results -- and in fact, we don't as we're shooting -- is better because it's easier to play him as slightly psychotic. He comes across as totally, unbelievably charming in one moment and then lops somebody heads off the next. It seems like this complete U-turn -- and in a funny way, it was a U-turn because I didn't know I was going to lop someone's head off. I kind of like that way of working. It's definitely how HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" is shot. You just show up and you have no idea where it's going. There's merit to that.

When did you find out that Frobisher was going to be coming back for Season 2?
First off, a little background: I never ask [the writers] anything (laughs). Again, it's so complicated. I'm kind of on a need-to-know basis. I think there were sly smiles that I might not be dead at the end of last season, but nothing guaranteed because they didn't know yet where or how they wanted it to go. But, yeah, I think there was kind of an unspoken "You might be back."

So when you read that Frobisher got shot, were you bummed that that might be the end?
You know, I always thought that the series would work best, and this is just my own opinion, with a new bad guy every year to be grit for Patty. So I assumed it was a one-year deal. But I was totally thrilled that they found a way to bring Frobisher back because he was such a great character.

-- Denise Martin

Photo: Ted Danson as Arthur Frobisher. Credit: FX