You may have noticed that Ted Danson has started to work with Smirnoff on a few commercials. They’re pretty funny, in my opinion, and I was already a fan when the vodka maker invited me to their plant in Illinois a few weeks ago to celebrate National Vodka Day and hang out with Danson in person, while touring the facility and meeting some of the people who work there.
If you haven’t seen the ads yet, check them out below:
After our tour, I got to spend a few minutes with Danson to talk about working with Smirnoff, what he likes to drink, and if playing the iconic character Sam Malone on Cheers helped him prepare for the vodka guy gig.
How did you come to work with Smirnoff?
Ted Danson: The old-fashioned actor gets script. My manager sent me a script that I thought was kind of funny. The advertising company and Diageo were happy to collaborate, and one of the writers on The Good Place who had worked with the company before came on, and we just kind of worked on it for two or three days before actually shooting it. The actual shooting of the commercial was fun, I really enjoyed it. And then I started learning about the company, which was fun because it’s a great product. It’s fun to sell something or be part of something that’s cool. I’ve said it all day, but it’s true. It wins awards, it’s the best-selling vodka in the world, and it’s affordable. usually when something is “the best” it’s priced out of most people’s range, and this is not, everyone can afford this which is cool. And it’s made in America.
I was going to ask what attracted you to the brand, but it sounds like the brand came to you?
TD: I really came in through the creative end of the brand, the marketing end, and then learned more and more culminating with walking around today in this factory here in Plainfield, and that was astounding — to meet all these people and see how it works and learn more about how it’s all made.
What was the most surprising part of the tour for you?
TD: Well, I’m a boy, so looking at how the gadgets work, and how literally this assembly line was mechanized so pretty much you pushed a button, with a lot of thought, and an empty bottle gets filled with this astounding vodka and gets a cap put on and gets a table put on and gets put in a box and the box gets put together and it goes directly into a truck. That’s pretty cool to watch.
A big shout out to the people, because that was what made it really fun. To meet the people who seem to be really enjoying the fact that they work here, which is fun to be around.
Have you been to a distillery before?
TD: I haven’t. This was my first — well, this isn’t really a distillery, but this is where it does its famous 10-step filtration process, which makes it really, really good. And I got to do a little taste-testing to determine if it was up to standards. It was a lot of fun.
You’ve played a bartender before as an actor. Do you think that helped you in any way or hurt you in any way when it comes to repping a liquor brand?
TD: It probably didn’t hurt.
What’s your favorite cocktail, if you were to have one at a bar?
TD: If I’m going to have anything vodka, it would bounce around: If it’s summery it would be some sort of Smirnoff and cranberry and maybe soda and some lime. if it’s kind of a hard core evening, I guess I’d do a filthy martini with Smirnoff 21.
Do you drink anything else beside Smirnoff?
TD: I’ll have red wine, tequila every once in a while… but really, I’m up at 5 in the morning and I’m supposed to be relatively smart enough to remember my lines, so going out and drinking is certainly not part of my daily routine. It could be, I’d enjoy it.
Do you have any advice for someone who looks at your career and wants to follow in your footsteps?
TD: No advice, but I will say I love what I do. The excitement I got the first time I walked through the Paramount gates in Hollywood, I still feel that same excitement today. I think that helps to work for a long time is to really really love what you do, and love the people you work with.