Ted Danson on 'The Good Place,' Larry David and the real reason for his back pain


Ted Danson has had a busy schedule since 1982.

The "Cheers" alum just wrapped the final season of hit NBC sitcom, "The Good Place," and although he's emotional about the show coming to an end, he's moving right along to his next project, a Tina Fey-produced comedy slated for NBC. It's no surprise, then, that he's also an advocate for Cigna and PLAN, its recommended program for reducing stress.

AOL's Jennifer Kline met with Danson, 71, at NYC meditation studio MNDFL to talk "The Good Place," Larry David's short temper and his wife's innate ability to diagnose the real cause of his arthritic flare-ups.

AOL: I didn't know if I was actually going to say this aloud to you, but you're a multigenerational crush. Like, people of all walks of life and all ages adore you. It sounds like stress management and meditating are a big part of why you're looking good and feeling good.

TED DANSON: And just being adored, that's so good for your skin.

That's true, you are universally beloved. What's that like, to have everybody like you?

Very misleading. I was actually thinking: You need to meditate not just when you're stressed, but when you think that you are the bee's knees. You need to stay in a balance. One of the hardest things about being an actor is you do walk around being "adored," or people try to let you believe that you're adored because they need you to show up at work. So it's a little bit of an unreal world. It's also lovely. People in airports are laughing and smiling when they see me because they remember something funny I was part of. That's a lovely ocean to swim in, but it's not real. That's not where I need to live and grow and be empowered to really be real.

Was there a period in time when you did feel like that was "real" and you had to get out of it?

I'm still in it. I'm loving it. No, sure. Spirituality usually comes with gravity pulling down on your body. The older I get, the more willing I am to be wise about things. I always admire younger people who [find balance].

You worked with a mostly younger cast on "The Good Place." Did they often try to mine you for "Cheers" anecdotes?

No. Here's what happens. They're sweet, and they love me, and I love them, and you find yourself being "included." When did I have to be "included"? They're very sweet. They treat me like an uncle. They're very embracing, but I can feel that uncle-ness. That cast is so sweet.

It's hard with sitcoms because after the show wraps, multiple actors from that same show can't really be put together again on a different production. But sometimes there are ways to still reunite on-screen. Could you see yourself working with any of them again? Is that something you've thought about?

I have. I would happily -- any of them. It is difficult because if you're associated together in a certain thing, it becomes hard [for audiences] to imagine them differently.

You're currently working with Tina Fey on a new show, right?

Yes. Very excited. And stressed, and my back hurts. I need to meditate. My wife [actress Mary Steenburgen] helps with that.

Oh, can she resolve back issues?

Yeah, by laughing at me and pointing out, "Ted. Your back goes out and your arthritis flares up whenever you start a new project." She's discovered recently that it's also whenever I end a project.

Would you say you're someone who understands how to live in the moment?

No. It's a struggle. I do know what it's like. I've experienced it enough times.

What are some times?

With my wife, Mary. With my children. While acting. But do I live in that moment? No, I don't. I talk a great game, but there isn't a human frailty or pratfall that I don't take on a daily basis, for real. I'm dreading walking out of here talking an enlightened fashion because I know that life... I'm going to step in a pile of karmic dog poo.

I've heard "Curb Your Enthusiasm"[Larry David's comedy series in which Danson appears as a fictionalized version of himself] is back in production.

He's editing.

He tends to complain about this and that. Have you ever told him to meditate?

That's funny.

Could he benefit from meditating?

No. It would destroy him.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.