Our Damages insider, Josh Payne, sheds light on some of the interesting casting choices the creators of Damages have made in the past. This week, he tells us the story behind the casting of Ted Danson as Arthur Frobisher, arguably one of the most memorable Damages characters from Season 1.
Arthur Frobisher is the CEO of a major American company. When Season 1 begins, Patty Hewes represents Frobisher’s employees, who are suing him over their lost pension funds. A self-made man brimming with confidence, Frobisher already prevailed against the government’s criminal case in federal court and doesn’t seem terribly concerned about the civil lawsuit. But then he’s never squared off against Patty Hewes. Over the course of the season, Frobisher’s cool façade crumbles under the pressure of Patty’s withering assault and his own hubristic failings.
With Ted’s casting, the producers began what would prove to be a successful pattern of casting actors against type. Best known for his work on comedies such as Cheers and Becker, Ted wasn’t the obvious choice for a ruthless CEO. But Damages‘ executive producers remembered his dramatic roles in the movies The Onion Field and Body Heat and thought he’d have an unexpected take on Frobisher. Ted also brings authority with him. Though Cheers was a comedy, his character Sam Malone ran the bar for a decade. He played a doctor on Becker. In both roles Ted played a leader, so that wasn’t new to him.