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Ted Danson talks about a turning point in his life


Each week, a well-known guest draws a card from our Wild Card deck and answers a big question about their life. Ted Danson is known for his television roles in "Cheers," "The Good Place" and "Fargo," and he's now trying his hand as a podcast host. His new podcast is "Where Everybody Knows Your Name" and it is co-hosted by his "Cheers" co-star, Woody Harrelson. Danson spoke to Wild Card host Rachel Martin about what he sees as a turning point in his life - meeting his wife, actor Mary Steenburgen. They met in the wake of a messy and public divorce with his previous wife.


RACHEL MARTIN: One, two or three?


MARTIN: Three?


MARTIN: If you got a do-over for one decision in your life, what would it be?

DANSON: Oof. I wouldn't.

MARTIN: OK. Say more.

DANSON: Because if I did something differently and I took a different path, I wouldn't be with my wife, Mary Steenburgen. So...

MARTIN: I know. I get that. But I also think that it is - I think people get hung up on I have no regrets because if I did anything differently, I wouldn't be who I am today.

DANSON: All right, but let's...

MARTIN: But there are things I definitely wish I had done differently.

DANSON: Oh, me, too. I have cringers, but that's my life.

MARTIN: Were you always so accepting of that? Or has that been an evolution for you - to look back at your life and those mistakes and embarrassments and errors and say it's OK?

DANSON: Well, I wish I hadn't become a liar and walked out the back door, you know, early in life. I wish that hadn't been me. But even your wounds you kind of have fondness for. If you've gone through them and lived through it and made amends and all of that stuff, then you don't want to not have those in your life. Although, they're horribly cringe-worthy.


DANSON: You know?

MARTIN: Did your wife, Mary, have a hard time accepting those wounds? Or was that...



DANSON: First off, I'm one of those people that obnoxiously vomits their life out on people. You know, it's like...

MARTIN: So, like, on your first date, you just (laughter) deliver it.

DANSON: Literally the day I met her. First off, we both realized - individually, we said to ourselves - I said to myself I'm incapable of being in a marriage or relationship because I will mess it up. And she was saying the same thing to herself. We both had come grinding to a halt, and also had, in my case, been working on myself to be honest and real. And...

MARTIN: She accepted you for all the things, your missteps?

DANSON: Yeah, so from Day 1, in essence, I was, like, a convert, you know, to truth. The drunk on the street knew who I was because I'd stop and tell the drunk on the street who I am.

MARTIN: (Laughter).

DANSON: But our life is so empty of secrets, you know? And if there's even a momentary one where, shoot, I didn't exactly tell the truth, it's so devastating...


DANSON: ...That I immediately grind to halt and say, I got to talk to you. You know, so being truthful, yeah, it just greases the skids of life, man, being truthful. Our life together - it doesn't mean we don't deal with hard things.


DANSON: But our life together is very full of laughter and joy.

DETROW: That's Ted Danson talking to Wild Card host Rachel Martin. You can listen to the whole conversation by searching for the Wild Card podcast.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Rachel Martin
Rachel Martin is a host of Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.