Punch & duty
Tony Danza on giving back - and coming back - in Netflix The Good Cop
TONY Danza isn’t ready to hang up the gloves just yet.
The former boxer-turned-actor, who shot to fame in the 1980s as the star of sitcoms Taxi and
Who’s The Boss?, is making his TV return alongside singer Josh Groban in Netflix dramedy The Good Cop.
Danza plays disgraced former NYPD detective Tony Caruso Sr who was kicked off the force for being a dirty cop. Groban is his son and housemate, Tony Jr, the straightest, by-the-book homicide detective.
It’s a pretty straightforward premise, with the loveable ex- cop pitching in to help his boy at every available opportunity.
It’s more comedy than drama, with Monk creator Andy Breckman, the brains behind the series, adding extra quirk.
Not content with sitting back and enjoying the spoils of a successful career, 67-year- old Danza jumped at the chance to play yet another Tony.
“I’m getting to the point where some people should sit back and watch the park,” he tells TV Guide, “but I’ll be honest with you, I haven’t had this much fun acting since Who’s The Boss?.”
That’s saying a lot given he’s appeared in dozens of shows since the popular comedy wrapped in 1992.
He’s also relishing the chance to work with relative newcomer Groban, who he’s embraced like his own son.
Danza had his eldest child Marc at just 19 and remains close to the now 47-year- old. “When having a young kid doesn’t mess up two lives, it really makes for a great relationship,” he laughed. “I sort of took that relationship and overlaid it on Josh and I.”
While Groban has had a steady run of guest appearances on shows such as Ally McBeal, The Office and the movie Crazy, Stupid, Love, this is his first leading role.
The elder of this odd couple was surprised by how well his younger co- star took to the role.
“I wrote him an email and said ‘ I just want to tell you how impressed I am with your work and your work ethic. I don’t presume to be the best judge, but I’m having a great time working with you.’ He’s one of those guys who knows his lines, he comes in prepared, he’s always there and you look in his eyes and you know he’s not thinking of his lines ... he’s actually with you, so it’s a great thing. It’s really fun to work with him.”
While Danza has been singing for years (including this show’s theme song), it’s really Groban’s area of expertise; marking a role reversal in The Good Cop.
A stuntman was called in on one particularly aggressive scene involving Groban, one that Danza was keen to observe.
“I thought ‘ wow, that guy’s great, he even looks like Josh.’ So then Josh came down and he did the scene better than the stuntman. It was bizarre – he was fighting, getting knocked down. It was perfect.”
Soon after he got a call from a friend who pointed out the switch in roles. “He said ‘ Hey Tony, do you realise you’re on a show with Josh Groban – you’re singing and he’s fighting,’” he says, laughing.
Danza relishes his role as a mentor – not just to Groban but to his community in general. While he dismisses the whole ‘giving back bulls—t,’ he’s been helping many kids stay on track around New York.
He started the Police Athletic League acting classes that are attached to precincts around the different boroughs of NY.
He was initially asked to teach boxing but thought there would be more value in sharing the secrets of his profession instead.
“When you teach a kid how to act, you teach a kid how to act,” he says.
“We started with 12 kids up in Harlem and we now have over 200 kids.”
A few years ago he also went to a school in one of the rougher parts of Philadelphia to teach English for a couple of terms.
While part of the experience was filmed for a TV show, he stayed on to finish out the year without a camera in sight.
His time in that school opened his eyes to the plight of children in his own country and how far education standards had fallen since he was a child.
“I just don’t understand. The thing that made this country great was that we had this great public education. Don’t get me wrong, thousands of miracles happen in public schools every day but it’s done without many resources, it’s just so much harder to be a kid than it was. It’s tough.”
Comeback: Sitcom staple Tony Danza (right) makes his TV return alongside singer Josh Groban in the Netflix dramedy TheGoodCop.
THE GOOD COP STREAMING ON NETFLIX FROM FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 21