Dallas was an international television landmark when it was on the air from the late 70's to the early 90's; therefore it was no surprise when the reboot premiered on TNT last year that it instantly became a hit for the network. Now in it's second season, the new Dallas is not only a success with a whole new generation of viewers, but as seen at Sunday's Paleyfest event in its honor, it's still very much a beloved classic by those who watched it long before there were apps and DVRs to catch all the drama on South Fork unfold. During the panel discussion with the cast held at the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills, audience members shared stories of favorite moments of the original Dallas; as well as their excitement about having the Ewings back on their television screens.
The series is no doubt a television legacy and it was no surprise that a significant portion of Sunday's event was in many ways a tribute to Larry Hagman; who with his infamous role of “JR Ewing” left his own legacy when he passed away last fall. Patrick Duffy, Linda Gray, Brenda Strong, Jesse Metcalfe, Josh Henderson, Jordana Brewster and Julie Gonzalo all spoke fondly yesterday of Hagman's impact on their lives as well as how the story lines had to be shifted because of the untimely passing. And as they told me and discussed during the panel, it's those very story lines that will be driving all their characters down a road of twists and turns all leading up to an unforgettable climax that will reveal the answer to the question everyone's been asking: 'Who shot JR?'.
Here's what Patrick Duffy, Linda Gray, Jesse Metcalfe, Brenda Strong and Jordana Brewster all had to say on being a part of this iconic television drama!
Patrick Duffy- “Bobby Ewing”
How will JR's death affect Bobby for the rest of the season?
Patrick Duffy- It affects two things: it affects me, Patrick. It affects me, Bobby. The effect of not having Larry [Hagman] alive right now, the effect on me personally is that I don't get to play with him. And I mean play with him like you play in a school yard. It's not acting with him that I miss as much as just hanging out! But I miss it not with sadness, I miss it with Joy. I have yet to shed a real tear for Larry. Bobby sheds tears for JR. But me, I have such great memories of him. Every time I think, “Oh god, Larry's dead, ” I start to smile because I start to remember my 35 years with him and so I'm not sad. But I miss his presence; make no mistake about that. One of the greatest part's of everyday of mine was going to work and getting out of my car and going to his room first.
Since the show was already in production when Larry passed, how much did the story-lines have to be shifted?
Patrick- Well, the season had been written, so when he died, which was episode six, we had seven more episodes to do that had all been written. So the writers did a great job of taking the story-lines and keeping everything they could possibly keep, and tweaking the other stuff, and trying to use footage that we had of Larry to make the other couple of episodes work up until tomorrow's episode-which they did unbelievably well. Crazy what they've done!
Linda Gray- “Sue Ellen Ewing”
What do you enjoy most about playing Sue Ellen?
Linda- Oh I love Sue Ellen! I've always loved her because she's interesting. I've always liked her because you never know what she's going to do. Bobby is always the good guy, Larry was the bad guy that you love to love and love to hate; So Sue Ellen has always been interesting; you never knew what she's going to do. So those kind of people are kind of interesting to me.
What can you say about the impact JR's death is going to have on Sue Ellen?
Linda- Well, we all have to deal with the reality of it. It will affect her tremendously because I think he was the love of her life in a very dysfunctional way. And I think that it was the same for him. So as weird as their relationship was, I think their was a deep of love.
Sue Ellen also has an interesting relationship with her son. Recently we have seen how she is almost torn at times between being loyal to Bobby and the family business, yet she also wants to help her son.
Linda- I think it's a mother-son relationship. Dysfunctional sometimes, very healthy at other times. But I think in the long run, she is a Ewing, but also a mother, so those are the complex notions of Sue Ellen that I love. An interesting woman.
Jesse Metcalfe- “Christopher Ewing”
You play the “good kid”, but we see him every now and then when things get messy being conflicted with the decision to always do what is right. What do you like most about him?
Jesse- You know what there's really nothing I don't like about him. The great thing about my character is they throw everything at me. And they really do a good job with mixing things up. I get to play so many different emotions; I get to be aggressive and angry; I get to be sensitive and emotional; I get to be romantic; I get to be heroic. So I just feel like the character has a lot of dimensions. And also a lot of inter-conflict, and as an actor that's what you look for.
He's definitely in a conflict right now with having to deal with the whole situation with Pamela. Her being pregnant with his kids, she's in his life still, and with him being engaged to Elena, what can you say about that story-line and triangle?
Jesse- Again, more conflict. He's linked to this woman that he doesn't trust, that he doesn't respect, but he has to try to create a civil relationship with her for the sake of his unborn children.
Playing the son of an original Dallas show-runner, did you watch the show prior to joining?
Jesse- I definitely went back and watched quite a few episodes. It was a great show. It was pretty edgy for its' time. And I like that about it.
Jordana Brewster- “Elena Ramos”
What do you enjoy most about playing Elena? She seems like she's the genuine one.
Jordana- She's very pure and genuine but at the same time you don't want to piss her off because when she gets angry, it's like stay away! So I love that she's so strong-willed and ambitious and loyal to her family, but still strong-willed. She's a fun character to play.
I watch her now and I feel like she is in a tough situation with Christopher and Pamela, because this woman is the mother of his unborn children, so she has to be there. What can you say on this story-line for her?
Jordana- You know it's a very tricky situation because Elena can't tell Christopher, “Oh, it kind of sucks that another woman is pregnant with your babies!” So she's calmly sort of having to navigate it with her love for Christopher and her lack of desire to mother someone else's children.
And now her brother has been thrown into the mix and causing some drama.
Jordana- I love my scenes with Kuno Becker. They're so much fun. He's so good at infuriating her. And pushes her buttons. Allows a very different side of Elena, so I'm really loving working with him.
Brenda Strong- “Ann Ewing”
What do you most enjoy about playing Ann Ewing?
Brenda- I love that Anne is the salt of the earth. She's loyal. She's honest. She's dedicated. But she also carries a dark secret that makes her very vulnerable and very human and I'm really enjoying the contrast of what I've been given to play.
Dallas airs Monday nights at 9pm on TNT.