The man you love to hate is back. Larry Hagman returns to the role of JR Ewing, the head of the oil and cattle-rich Ewing dynasty, in TNT’s continuing saga of Dallas, premiering on June 13th.
It was in 1978 that Larry was cast as the scheming oil baron JR Ewing. The series ran thirteen seasons, ending on May 3, 1991, and was seen in over 90 countries. In TNT’s updated version of the story, Linda Gray returns as Sue Ellen Ewing, JR’s former wife, and Patrick Duffy is back as Bobby Ewing, JR’s younger brother. This time, they’re joined by the next generation of Ewings, who take ambition and deception to a new level.
Now 80-years-old, Larry Hagman spoke with journalists at the TV Critics tour, about returning to his iconic role.
When you first got the part of JR, were you looking for a role that juicy?
Who could realize that Dallas was going to be that big? But yes, I was out of work at the time. I got two scripts, one was the Waverly Wonders, which was a half-hour comedy, which I thought they probably wanted me for, because I’d done comedy.
Then my wife took the other script in another room and after five minutes she said, ‘Larry, this is it. Hands down, there’s not one redeeming character in the whole show.’ And at that time there wasn’t, it kind of all filtered down to me.
Was there any hesitation to do the role again?
I said, ‘There’s only two things I need. Patrick and Linda.’ And they said, ‘Okay, you’ve got them.’
After playing JR for all those years, was it easy to step back into the character?
Like putting on an old pair of slippers.
Do you look at JR as a bad guy, or do you think he’s misunderstood?
I think he’s a monomaniac – it’s me, me, me all the time. He uses people.
Is there some new element that you’re trying to bring to JR in the new series of Dallas?
Well, I’m playing him older. I’m playing my age, which slows you down a little bit. But I’m still as mean as always, maybe a little meaner because I’ve gotten more experienced at it.
What do you think is the appeal of JR, who is a hero to some people?
Everybody’s got a jerk like this in their family, a father, a brother, an uncle or cousin, that’s what makes him so appealing. They can hate him, because they know who he is.