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Ted Danson says he was 'a hot mess' when he first met wife Mary Steenburgen

The actors, who have been married for 25 years, recalled the first time they met and how a decade passed before they finally fell in love.
The BAFTA Los Angeles Tea Party - Inside
Mary Steenburgen and Ted Danson at the BAFTA Los Angeles Tea Party in Los Angeles in January 2020. Frazer Harrison / Getty Images for BAFTA LA
/ Source: TODAY

The love story that has spanned a 25-year marriage between actors Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen didn't exactly get off to a flying start the first time they met each other.

Danson, 73, and Steenburgen, 68, recalled to People how they first met during auditions for the 1983 movie "Cross Creek," when Danson didn't get the part of Steenburgen's husband in the film.

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The BAFTA Los Angeles Tea Party - Inside
Mary Steenburgen and Ted Danson recalled the early days of when they first met, when Danson was admittedly "a hot mess." Frazer Harrison / Getty Images for BAFTA LA

"Which is a miracle, because man, I was a hot mess back then," Danson told the magazine for the cover story of the Feb. 22 issue.

Considering both of them were married at the time, Steenburgen said it was "not our moment."

Ten years later, they were both divorced when they were cast in the 1993 movie "Pontiac Moon." However, they were still in a place where they weren't seeking to get involved.

"We both said the same phrase to ourselves, which was: 'Obviously we cannot be in a relationship,'" Danson said. "I could ruin anything. I'm not relationship material."

Danson had been divorced twice by that point, while Steenburgen had divorced Malcolm McDowell, with whom she has two children, in 1990.

"I wasn't ready for anything like a relationship," she said. "We just kept working together and becoming better and better friends."

They eventually fell in love and got married in 1995, which has stood the test of time. They celebrated their 25th anniversary in October in signature style, with Steenburgen posting a smiling photo of them on Instagram in which Danson has a big piece of salad stuck in his teeth.

"Thank you for making me laugh today and every single one of the last 9,125 days," she wrote. "You are the goofiest, wisest, kindest, dreamboat in the world."

The couple are also still getting laughs as the stars of a pair of NBC shows, Danson on "Mr. Mayor" and Steenburgen on "Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist."

"I want as long as possible in my life with Mary," Danson told People. "I know it will have all of its hard parts, but I want to experience love in all those moments."