Ted Danson reveals the ‘Cheers’ cast targeted Woody Harrelson: ‘We wanted to kick his ass’

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Woody Harrelson wasn’t welcomed with open arms on “Cheers.”

Harrelson, 62 appeared on SiriusXM’s “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend” with former co-star Ted Danson, who revealed that the cast of the beloved sitcom series, most of whom were in their 30s at the time, were hard on then-24-year-old Harrelson when he joined the show.

“Thirty-seven is when you realize you’re no longer 25 or 24,” said Danson, 76, in a clip from the interview released June 13.

Ted Danson and Woody Harrelson in “Cheers.” NBCUniversal via Getty Images

“So it was more not like hazing him, we just wanted to kick his ass in anything we could find,” the actor added. “We started with basketball and as you later found out in life, he’s a really good basketball player, so he kicked our asses there.”

Danson was referencing how Harrelson showed off his basketball skills in the 1992 movie “White Men Can’t Jump.”

Ted Danson. Team Coco
Woody Harrelson. Team Coco
Woody Harrelson and Ted Danson. Team Coco

The “Damages” actor continued: “I have a vision of Johnny Ratzenberger, who played Cliff, out on the lawn by the stage doing, you know, the leg wrestling where you’re both on your back, and you try to flip the other guy with just your leg.”

“Johnny’s strong,” Harrelson interjected.

“John’s strong and got some thighs on him,” Danson said, adding, “Woody kicked his ass. I literally have a bad elbow to this day cause I wouldn’t give up arm wrestling. I did finally give up, because he was kicking my butt. So then we moved to chess.”

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Woody Harrelson and Ted Danson in “Cheers.” Paramount Television/Courtesy Everett Collection

Danson said that the cast thought they could beat Harrelson “mentally,” but they couldn’t be more wrong.

“Killed us at chess,” he recalled. “So this is all in the first week really. So from then on it was like, if you had some awful mean prank to pull, you would not waste it on anyone else except Woody. And he is, to this day, that’s Woody Harrelson.”

Robert Urich, Woody Harrelson, and Ted Danson in “Cheers.” NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Harrelson joined the cast of “Cheers” in Season 4.

He played Woody Boyd, a bartender who moves to Boston from the Midwest.

The series, which ran from 1982 to 1993, followed womanizing bar owner Sam Malone (Danson) and the employees and regular customers of his establishment.

Ratzenberger, Shelley Long, Nicholas Calasanto, Rhea Pearlman, George Wendt, Kelsey Grammer, and Kirstie Alley also starred in the show.

The cast of “Cheers.” NBCUniversal via Getty Images

In January, most of the “Cheers” cast reunited for a skit at the 2024 Emmy Awards, but Harrelson and Long, 74, were not there.

“I’m sorry Shelley [wasn’t there] and Woody was off doing a play in London — which I saw, and he was amazing,” Danson said about their absences in an interview later that month. “But it was lovely.”

Ted Danson in “Cheers.” NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Long played Danson’s love interest Diane Chambers on the sitcom before she left after Season 5 in 1987. Alley joined the show as Rebecca Howe in Season 6.

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Feud rumors have long followed Danson and Long, but the pair have chalked it up to different acting styles in the past.

“I ain’t gonna say anything bad about my partner. I mean, my wife and I have terrible arguments sometimes, and they’re kind of our business. Our relationship, Shelley’s and mine, has included not being happy with each other and being happy with each other,” Danson told People in 1987.

Long added at the time: “Terrible teasing went on in the relationship and outside the relationship, but our energy went into our work, and it paid off.”

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