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September 2, 2015

Larry Hagman on the New 'Dallas' Series and Being 'Repulsive' on 'Desperate Housewives'

by Joel Keller, posted Feb 11th 2011 2:00PM
Larry Hagman, Polly Bergen and Felicity Huffman on 'Desperate Housewives'Larry Hagman has spent so long playing bad guys that people forget he became a star while playing a good guy, astronaut Tony Nelson on the 1965–70 TV classic 'I Dream of Jeannie.'

But once he put on the cowboy hat and became J.R. Ewing, Hagman's reputation for playing bad guys was cemented. He played J.R. on the classic CBS soap 'Dallas' for 13 seasons, and he's going to reprise the role on the planned 'Dallas' series that will air on TNT.

The series will focus on the children of J.R. and his wife Sue Ellen (Linda Gray, who will also be coming back) and of his brother Bobby (Patrick Duffy, also signed on for the pilot). So J.R. won't be the dominant person on the show, but Hagman assured me in our conversation yesterday that he'll be causing mischief. "J.R.'s still a mover and a shaker," he said.

If there is any role Hagman has played that he think is worse than J.R., it might be the one he's playing now on 'Desperate Houewives.' He plays Frank, the cranky, racist new husband of Lynette's (Felicity Huffman) mother Stella (Polly Bergen). His first appearance was in January, and he'll be back for more on Sunday night at 9PM ET on ABC, trying to weasel his way in to Lynette's family portrait.

Larry and I spoke about the role, the new 'Dallas' series and the great fun it is to be bad on screen.

TV Squad: The character you're playing on 'Desperate Housewives' is going to be a cranky, kind of racist old bastard ... is that a good characterization?
Larry Hagman: Yeah. Absolutely. Right on. Exactly what I called him. He doesn't like anybody.

Nobody. Not one. And that comes out in this character?
Oh boy, does it. Yeah. There's no missing it. I don't think he has one positive word to say about anything. Except Polly Bergen, who he's going to marry.

You've played these type of characters for quite a long time; is it something you're just used to at this point?
Yeah, well, yeah. No, this one, [giggles] this character was beyond J.R., believe it or not, in a short amount of time he was there. Yeah, there's not one redeeming facet of this character that you would want to recommend, that's for sure.

In your career, have you preferred to play the bad guy? Do you see something in it that you don't see in the good guy?
I don't know. The good guy is a hard role to ... it's like Patrick Duffy had the hardest role on 'Dallas.' Because good guys just don't have as much fun as bad guys, that's all. I go for the fun parts.

What's fun about playing a bad guy?
Well, he has the juiciest role. Everybody hates him. And in the case of 'Dallas,' everybody loved to hate him, so it was a love/hate relationship. And with this character, Frank, it's just a hate relationship. I don't think there's anything that anybody would want to love, that's for sure. Did you see it before? Go onto Hulu and take a look at it. It's repulsive.

What was your favorite line of his to do? Do you remember?
My favorite line.... hmmm... It was an attitude, really. I mean, he's not very nice, but he was giving help to a Hispanic waiter, and it was my opening scene. And it was the attitude more than anything else. He's just a despicable person, that's all.

We haven't really seen a ton of you on screen lately. Is it just a coincidence that these two roles are coming up really quickly, or are you kind of deciding to get back on screen and in front of the camera again?
Well, I did 'Nip/Tuck' not too long ago. A couple of years ago. And this one. I do a lot of work in Germany, and France, and Italy. J.R. is still a huge success over there. 'Dallas' is still on, so I'm going over there, as a matter of fact, next week, to do some stuff.

It's acting stuff over there?
No, it's personal appearances. It's in Frankfurt. Frankfurt Opera Ball, then the Vienna Opera Ball. They pay you to come over and be in those things, and just be there as a celebrity.

Let me ask you, with the 'Dallas' series on TNT, you're just going to be on the pilot, or are you going to be in more episodes than that?
Oh, I hope I'm in more episodes than that, yeah. I'm signed on to do more episodes than that. All of them, as a matter of fact.

And it's you, and Patrick Duffy, and Linda Gray?
Uh-huh. And some newcomers... I don't know if they're newcomers of course, but I think the focus is going to be on the children.

You guys will kind of be the supportive parents and grandparents in the background, I'm guessing?
Well, a little more than that, I'm afraid. A lot more than that. You know, because J.R.'s still a mover and a shaker.

How did it feel to get back in that role again?
Well, I knew the character, you know. I mean, God knows I know the character. So it's not that difficult.

Is there anything that you can say that you're going to do that would be very classic J.R. on the show?
Yeah, well I hope so. There are a couple of scenes that it comes into evidence. But I don't... no, I'll be old J.R. again. I mean, that's all I know how to do. I could change it, I suppose, but for what? I think people are expecting to see me in my old role, doing my old stuff.

Has it been as fun as it was the first time around?
Well, I haven't done it yet. [laughs] We'll see!

Any other projects, besides this and 'Dallas,' and your appearances?
Well, like I said, I'm going to Europe. I'm going to be working over there. And well, I just kind of hack around. I'm busy all the time. I know that. Which is good for an 80-year-old man to be.

'Desperate Housewives' airs Sundays at 9PM ET on ABC.

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i can not wait for the return of dallas when well it go on the air?

March 28 2011 at 1:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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