Cancer Can’t Keep Larry Hagman From All-New ‘Dallas’

Larry Hagman as J.R. Ewing in Dallas (Mark Seliger/TNT)

J.R. (Larry Hagman), Bobby (Patrick Duffy) and Sue Ellen Ewing (Linda Gray) are all back on Southfork for the 2012 version of TNT’s all-new “Dallas,” but for a while it looked as if Hagman might be sidelined when he was diagnosed with cancer.

“[My health is] wonderful,” the 80-year-old actor told in a one-on-one interview to promote the June 13 premiere of the series. “I am alive and kicking.”

Hagman did take a little time off last fall to get treatment for what turned out to be a very common cancer. But production was able to juggle his schedule, so we won’t be missing any of J.R.’s delicious deviousness in any of the episodes. “In this business, you can shoot three or four shows at the same time,” Hagman points out. “My treatment went very well, and I’ve been fine.”

When “Dallas” returns, there is a new generation of Ewings, who will be following in the footsteps of their parents, but that doesn’t mean that the original threesome will be in supporting positions. Despite the fact that time has passed and the characters have a few more wrinkles, if not wisdom, the ruthless rivalry between J.R. and Bobby continues.

“He is a Texas businessman. Is that evil?,” Hagman responds when asked if J.R. is going to be as wicked as ever. “It is just business.”

Watch a Sneak Peek of “Dallas”:

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Both Hagman and Duffy feel that Cynthia Cidre, the series’ executive producer, understands their characters and has captured them so spot-on that they have had to make only minor suggestions for changes in the scripts.

“The writers pretty much know the parameters of the character,” Duffy says. “I find those instances [where Bobby is not presented correctly] happen more in promoting the show, where they will write a bit of text for Bobby to say. ‘Nobody screws you like family’ was going to be one of the promotional lines. I said, ‘No, that is not Bobby. That means the entire family would do it.’ I only changed it to, ‘Nobody can screw you like family.'”

But Jesse Metcalfe (“Desperate Housewives“), who plays Bobby’s adopted son Christopher, feels that we may be surprised by Bobby this time around. “Bobby has evolved,” he says. “He has branched out and his motives can sometimes be questioned, where, in the old series, it was a hard line of morality.”

The returning character who has changed the most is Sue Ellen. She is no longer a victim, or J.R.’s wife, but a woman who found her own voice — and it is one that is appealing to her ex.

“We don’t trust J.R. Ewing ever,” Gray says, smiling. “I think he is fascinated and intrigued that she is richer than he is, she has risen to power, she has taken those little demons and squished them and she is now in a position where she can make a lot of changes in other people’s lives.”

“Dallas” returns with 10 all-new episodes beginning Wednesday, June 13 at 9/8c on TNT.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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