‘Cheers’ Stars Talk Shooting Spitballs at Each Other on Set

by Anna Dunn

Former Cheers stars once discussed shooting spitballs at each other on set. In a James Burrows Tribute Special from 2016 hosted by Jane Lynch, the cast discussed their history on the show and some of their funniest moments behind the scenes. One of those moments included firing spitballs into Woody Harrelson’s hair and at each other.

John Ratzenberger described that they did so during a monologue Woody Harrelson had.

“He had a monologue at the end of the bar and George and I had little shows going-,” he mimed shooting a spitball. Their producer joked that he took all those spitballs out in post.

“When anyone had a monologue or something they were having trouble with doing during the week you could see the other actors say, ‘we’ll be there for you’,” Ted Danson said, before miming shooting a spitball.

Over the 11 years on the show, the cast really became like a family. They even got to meet each other’s kids and spent time with each other behind the scenes. Needles to say, the spitballs were all a part of the fun.

Ted Danson Admitted Playing Sam on ‘Cheers’ Wasn’t Always Easy

Ted Danson dazzled Cheers fans with his role as sam, but the job wasn’t always easy (even when your friends weren’t shooting spitballs at you.)

Sam Malone was quite the Jock who was great with women. But Ted Danson was a very timid guy really far from the jock type. So they had different ways of getting Danson to step out of his comfort zone. He’s previously talked about how nervous he was to play Sam and tried to learn to bartend for the role. Though he was told it wouldn’t be of much use.

“Ted felt very uncomfortable at first playing Sam because he wasn’t a lothario in real life,” producer Ken Levine told The Hollywood Reporter in a 2018 interview. “But he brought a quality to Sam that he himself possesses: kindness and humanity. That went a long way toward the audience embracing Sam.”

Danson struggled a lot with Sam, but the audience couldn’t tell. And the producers liked to get him out of his shell.

“(Burrows) told me that I needed to — perhaps — if I reached down and rearranged myself periodically get me into that jock feel, and I used to get some of the best close-ups because I’d do this at the most inappropriate times,” he joked in the special.

Cheers may have come out decades ago, but its influence on TV is truly a powerful one. And there’s nothing quite like it still. If you want to watch old re-runs of Cheers, you can check it out on Hulu.