One of the most iconic TV personalities of the ’80s and ’90s, Tony Danza has plenty of irons in the fire nowadays. The actor, author, athlete, and musician’s new Netflix series, The Good Cop, had its worldwide premiere on September 21, and the Who’s the Boss? star is set to hit our region with a night of standards and stories at The Ridgefield Playhouse on Oct 27. We caught up with the New York-based actor to get the inside scoop on his new Netflix show, the transition from boxing to the cast of the legendary sitcom Taxi, and his upcoming area performance.
Last month marked the 40th anniversary of the groundbreaking sitcom Taxi. What is it like looking back on the show after all these years?
First of all, it changed my life, and second of all, I always think about how gracious the cast was. Think about it: These actors had all been knocking around, and they finally get this great show with these great writers and a great director. Then [the producers] say, “One thing: We’ve got this fighter from New York; he’s never acted before, and we are going to put him in the show.” [The actors] could have said, “Who needs this guy?” but they didn’t. They welcomed me with open arms and allowed me to develop and to thrive, and they became some of the closest people in my life.
Tell me about The Good Cop and what it was like working with costar Josh Groban?
I had more fun doing this part than anything since Who’s the Boss?. Working with Josh is magnificent. I had no idea what it was going to be like, but he is earnest; he works hard; he knows his lines; and you look in his eyes, and you can tell he is in the scene. We had a procession of great actors and great directors come through, and it all really comes down to the writing. The vision is that the show is sort of a throwback to shows of the past. There is a murder, but you can sit down and watch [The Good Cop] with the whole family.
Why do you think you are so effective at portraying father figures, whether it is on a show like Broad City or films such as Don John?
A lot of it comes from Who’s the Boss?, but having said that, I have been a father since I was 19 years old, so I know a little bit about it. [Laughs] One of two things can happen when you have a kid at 19: You can either ruin both lives or end up with the greatest relationship of all time. [My son, Marc] and I are so close — we grew up together. So what I did was take that relationship and overlaid it on top of Josh and me. So, one of things that really works in The Good Cop, and one of the things I like most about it, is the father-son relationship.
What can audiences expect from your upcoming area performance?
I have now been doing cabaret and song and dance for over 20 years. The last incarnation is this show of standards and stories, and I have been so excited by how much people like it…. We tell stories, we sing songs, try to evoke an emotion in the audience. I do some dancing, and I bring out my secret weapon: the ukulele. We have been having a lot of fun playing across the country. If you go up onstage and try to have the best time you can have, it’s pretty amazing what happens.