We're hurtling back to Southfork this evening as a brand new series of Dallas hits our screens, and it sure is set to be a turbulent one! We were all very sad to hear of the passing of Larry Hagman later last year, and his fellow Dallas stars felt the pain more than most. With Hagman's J.R gone, how could the series possibly continue? Well, with a murder and a mystery to rival the 1980s Who Shot J.R classic apparently!
"I think the best way to honor Larry would be to make this show a huge success and to keep this show going for at least a few more years to come", says Jesse Metcalfe, who plays Hagman's on-screen nephew Christopher Ewing. "Anything less than that I think Larry would see as a failure. You know, I mean it's - this tragedy, you know, has really kind of set up another monumental, you know, television event. And I think, you know, our writers, our producers and obviously us has actors have all come together to try to honor Larry and honor the character of J.R Ewing in the best way that we know how. And it's going to make for some very compelling television."
Metcalfe is just one of the new generation of stars, hoping to take the show into the 21st Century. Gone are the shoulder pads and the glamour of old, replaced here by clean cut boys like Christopher, with fast cars, high powered sustainable energy deals and the same old sizzlingly cheesy drama that makes Dallas a classic. Jesse's Christopher is mooted as the new Bobby, and that's something Metcalfe is quite happy about. "He's really at the moral center of the show. He's, you know, incredibly ethical and oftentimes heroic, you know, and he's really the guy that selflessly tries to serve and protect his family. So, you know, and it's been a great acting turn for me, you know, because it's really - it's really stretched - it's really stretched me as an actor because there's a lot of high drama, a lot of really emotional scenes."
"I think Christopher is really defined by his need to prove himself as a Ewing. And, you know, the baggage of being abandoned by the only mother that he's ever known. I think that's the fuel for his ambition. So, you know, anything can really come out of that" Metcalfe says. "I don't really know exactly what skeletons are going to come out of Christopher's closet. I can't imagine they'd be that earth shattering. But, you know, he definitely has some edge to his personality and certainly there's the propensity to go to the dark side", Metcalfe says.
Speaking of the dark side, J.R's son John Ross has been there and done that (and just about every 'chung wan' he met along the way). When we head back to Southfork he's still up to his old tricks, and you'll be able to catch a decent eyeful in episode one, as the rebellious rogue spices up a Hen Party. "He has a different tactic" explains Josh Henderson, the young man drafted in to play Hagman's heir. "he wants to kind of fly under the radar a little more and but he's definitely working on a big plan." And that plan is to follow in his daddy's footsteps and take control of Ewing Energies.
Playing the bad guy isn't something that comes naturally for Henderson. He describes himself as a "very kind, laid back nice person in real life", and says it was Larry Hagman who taught him how to step out of his shell and play the villain.
"He said if I can tell you one thing about being not only a Ewing but, you know, John Ross or someone like his father is that everything he does, he has fun in it. Larry had fun with everything he did" Henderson says. "And now season two he has chilled out a little bit and he's kind of - he is taking his father's advice and I'm having fun with it. I'm so fortunate to have this role and to have been able to watch Larry in the role of J.R And the fact that now that he is gone, you know, I can hopefully kind of have J.R's spirit living through me."
Speaking of J.R's spirit, is Henderson next in line to the throne? "No one is J.R" he says, "but I'm going to be my father's son and no one is going to stop me." With John Ross it seems a very different, yet equally ambitious J.R is on the rise. "You know, at the end of the day whether it's this season, season three, or down the road however far we go, I'm always going to hear J.R's voice in the back of my head telling me I'm doing it right or I'm doing it wrong or I'm proud of you or, you know, fix this. And so I'm really going to never let him go. And it was a blessing for me to be able to learn from a man like that."
As Series 2 finally hits our screens tonight, we find the boys at loggerheads over Ewing Energies, Rebecca and Christopher locked in a custody battle over their unborn babies, Sue Ellen running for office, Bobby and Anne are being blackmailed and J.R Ewing, very much alive. Enjoy it while it lasts folks, it's the end of an era.
Interviews courtesy of TV3 Ireland