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Linda Gray Dallas TNT interview

Linda Gray's message to the fans

Following the reaction to our previous interview, Linda Gray returns to ultimatedallas.com with a message to the fans.

Interview by Josh Eilberg and Colin Hunter

(If you have yet to see the new series this interview contains spoilers)

Josh Eilberg - Linda welcome back to Ultimatedallas.com, it's great to talk to you again

Linda Gray - I love talking to both of you, it makes my day, I love it. Thank you

Josh - we love talking to you. You always seem to have time for the website and the fans

Linda - You and Colin have been so so so supportive to Dallas from day one. You encourage the fans, supported the fans, given them so much information. It’s been a dream. Thank you very much

Josh - You are welcome. We are just glad to be here and be part of the ride. It's exciting

Linda - Yes you are on the ride with us, which is really fun.

Josh - We had quite a response to the last interview from both the fans and the press

Linda - Our last blast that got everybody very excited. I called the head of TNT and said you are going to read a lot of stuff in the press and I told him what went on and he started laughing and I thought 'Oh no’, it was so funny. He was so sweet he said "Linda that means we got a success". (laughs)

Josh - So you were not happy with your screen time up until that point?

Linda - The problem I see is that I don't know how to handle the fans. They see me on all the talk shows, they see me getting all excited about the show, the cast, the producers and the writers and then they tune in to see a show and I'm barely on it. The next day the Facebook goes crazy, the Twitter goes crazy, my friends and family email and text and it's like "Where were you, you weren't even in the show" or where is the arc, where is Sue Ellen?
So those are the issues I honestly don't know how to answer because it's out of my control. I love Sue Ellen, she's my friend (laughs) and I guess I feel everybody else has some kind of strong part. Maybe they don't know quite how to deal with Sue Ellen yet. I hand it to them because they have five new people to bring into the established Dallas, then they had to have a plot and had to bring in the three of us. As a writer I wouldn't want that job ever, I think it's daunting and they do such an amazing job.

But I get to a point where I don't know what to say to my fans and that's why Ultimate Dallas, being the ultimate Dallas it is, I want to tell my fans that I want to bring them Sue Ellen but maybe they have not found the vehicle for her. It's all about Southfork, the oil and Sue Ellen, because she is not married to JR anymore, isn't part of that. So I guess trying to fit her in has been challenging. As an actor, it's been challenging for me how to navigate and be a cheerleader and a support player for the series, which I adore, I love, and I’m so blessed for us all to have a second run at this.
But it's hard. I don't know what to tell people, to tell the fans when they say "You were on the talk shows talking about everything and we tune in and you are not there or you are in it so minimally". That's what is challenging for me.

Josh - It's reminiscent of the later years of Knots Landing, where certain weeks certain cast members weren’t in episodes. It was just a rotation

Linda - Well you see the interesting thing is that Sue Ellen was in 357 episodes. For me to be out of one is shocking. I was like wow, how is that possible? Larry was in all of them, Patrick was in all of them, everybody else was in every single episode and for me it was kind of like wow that's the first time since 1978 I have not been in an episode and I have not been in two of these. I love my show, I love Sue Ellen, I love my working situation but as an actor it's like wow that's kind of challenging to know what to do with that. I don't know what to tell the fans

Josh - Some fans are concerned you might leave if the role wasn't picked up

Linda - No. I'm not leaving

Josh - Good we have it here then that you are staying

Linda - I'm staying. I'm staying put. I love the show. I'm not going anywhere.

Josh - Does it amaze you how passionate the fans are? We are currently running an online vote and Sue Ellen is out in front as favourite female character on the new show

Linda - I love it. That's my fans (laughs). Thank you fans. I love that. I kind of look at her as Secretariat or Seabiscuit, nobody thought they were going to do anything , it was like yeah yeah yeah, that horse, they weren’t a favourite and then something happened and they won the race. This is not sour grapes, nothing negative; this is just my concern that I don't know what to tell the fans. I'm like what do I do? If they don't see me how can I help them understand it's not me, that I'm going to hang in there, like Seabiscuit and Secretariat I'm going to hang on in there but I don't know what to tell them because they are disappointed. That's my frustration.

Josh - Did you get any feedback from TNT following the last interview?

Linda - Yes I spoke to Steve [Koonin] at TNT and he was great. He said "I love controversy" so that's good. He quoted another periodical that said 'Gray sees red' (laughs), it was after the interview we did. Which I thought was great. I said "Oh dear I didn't see that one" and he said "Oh no it's great. Whenever there is controversy....." - like in one of the papers it said Josh and Jesse were fighting, so Steve said "Whenever they start doing stuff like that that's when you know you have a hit show" You know I had to agree but I was just like "Oh no" , this is not the way, I, Linda Gray do things. I don't do things like that, make crazy statements, whatever. He was just absolutely wonderful. So I just took a deep breath and clamed down (laughs). So that was it. I was happy to know the head of the network was not upset by all the periodicals that came out.

Josh - In the last interview, referencing the final episode, you said go to the bathroom, grab your snacks and settle in. Were you as excited as we all were with the finale? It looks like the Barnes Ewing feud is back on

Linda - That's how Dallas originally started, the Barnes/Ewing feud. To know that she is Cliff Barnes daughter is a huge shock and is brilliant, it kind of wraps up everything. So here we go again.

Josh - When we spoke to Ken [Cliff Barnes] he mentioned there was a scene cut outside the Opera House. Now the season is over are there any details of what went on in that scene?

Linda - I told Cliff Barnes that I was not going to accept him financing my campaign. I thought that was important because Sue Ellen clearly decided to stay on the Ewing’s side. I said it in a scene with JR, we were having a little breakfast scene at Southfork and I said "Cliff Barnes wants to finance my campaign and he said "Oh yeah (imitates a grumpy JR)", he said something not very nice about Cliff Barnes (laughs). But I think there was jealousy there. I think he didn't have the money and then he found out his rival was offering to finance his ex-wife’s campaign. He didn't like that at all. I thought that scene was important when I say to Cliff Barnes "No don't want your money", because that was Sue Ellen saying she was going to stick with the Ewing clan and I'm not going over to the other side of the street to be with the Barnes people.

Josh - Cynthia has said those scenes will now be on the DVD set

Linda - Yeah but see again I don't know why all that stuff gets cut out.

Josh - They said they were writing longer scripts and Cynthia in an interview said she is going to write ten pages less to get more stuff in

Linda - That would be great. That would be so wonderful

Josh - Have you sat down with Cynthia to discuss plans for next season yet?

Linda - No I haven’t. The final show just ended and we are heading out to London to see you guys. So that conversation will happen. We just want to know where we are going and with whom. It's fun for me not to know a lot of things. Especially this season, it was a bit shaky on the first ten; I was like "Mmmm where are we going with her?” Everybody else seemed to have a more solid character and I was floating all over the place. So I'm going to ask her where she intends -, I don't want her to tell me details, but I want to know where are we going, you know, are we going somewhere? So that conversation will take place of course.

Josh - No more bottles of wine from Harris

Linda - No. Bad boy. Naughty naughty bad boy. But he did it so well. I love working with him

Josh - I hear he is supposed to be a regular next season

Linda - Great

Josh - One rumour out there is that Susan Howard may return to be your campaign manager

Linda - See I didn't know that. You know more than I do. You always have (laughs)

Josh - Would it be good to work with Susan again?

Linda - It's always great to work with people you have a past with. The original cast was absolutely magical and this cast, be it they are new, it's a magical blend. If you have a wonderful combination from the very beginning where there are no divas and everybody is there doing the same work in a beautiful way then that gets a lot of stuff out of the way. You are not bombarded with things that are not essential. So let’s just get in here, do the work and get on with it and make a magical show. So that's how we always were and that seems to be coming together for this one. So if they bring in anybody we have worked with in the past we'll just say "Yeah”, a very Texan yahoo.

Josh - Apparently Joan Van Ark and Donna Mill recently met with Cynthia. Would it be interesting to see them turn up?

Linda - Like I said if any character adds value to the script in any way shape or form I think it's lovely. I'm not the writer, the fifteen new shows; I don't know what they have planned. I feel if characters are brought in and they are interesting and they are an integral part of the storyline, absolutely bring them in. I'm not in charge of that but I have always gotten along well, I know Donna and Joan well. I have known Joan since 1978 when she was Valene on our show and I remember riding to Southfork with her in a van talking about our kids. Those are long long lasting friendships that are just gold. If they come in and are an integral part of the landscape and what Cynthia is focusing on, great.

Question from MimiC on Twitter will we finally get some Sue Ellen/JR in season 2?

Linda - God I hope so (laughs) it’s like those scenes that were cut out, it's like why? We had that one scene at the Cattle Barons Ball and we had that little breakfast scene, nothing of any importance but I think people love that relationship. There's a magic that I can't describe but I feel it every time we work together. There's a chemistry that happened in 1978 and it's never ever dissipated. Why they cut it out I don't know.

Josh - You earned the nickname wife from Larry

Linda - (laughs) I did because Mrs Hagman and I, we kidded because Larry is so much fun but he's a lot of work, he's high maintenance. So she said "He has me in the evening and you get him all day". She said "You are the other wife" and I said "Yeah I am, I've got him when he's ornery, you just get him, he has a cup of coffee, you send him off to work, he comes home, studies his lines and goes to bed. I've got him all dam day long" We laughed and then she started calling me wife. So that's my name with Mrs Hagman all the time. I'll call up and she'd say "Hi wife”. We just had the best time, it was the sweetest relationship. She knew I was taking care of him all day on the set. I did my best (laughs). Nobody could take full care of Larry, he needs more than two wives, he needs a babysitter, everything. But we always laughed about that.

Josh - You got him switched the vegetarian diet

Linda - He is kind of veering off of that now. I don't know, he's good when I have him under my control. When we were in Texas he did everything I said. But he's doing pretty good. I'm very proud of him.

Josh - We loved seeing Sue Ellen bribing the coroner, getting to that situation with Harris; did you enjoy that part of the storyline?

Linda - Oh I loved it. I had a little bit of a morsel to chew on there. It was great. The guy, I am terrible at remembering the actors name, he was wonderful. We had such a lovely lovely scene together. He was just fabulous. That was delightful. I liked thatunder normal circumstances she would never do that but because it was her son, it was awkward for her to do that, but I felt it was a bit of a JR turn. She learned from the best.

Josh - The vulnerability that was displayed did not result in Sue Ellen going back to alcohol.

Linda - Yes. That's what I like. If I asked you and Colin if you'd changed in twenty years what would your answer be?

Josh - I hope so. Of course

Linda - That's why it was important to me, not to bring Sue Ellen back as the Sue Ellen that we know. I wanted her to be different. I was hoping they would get inside my head and realize that the homework that I do as an actor is what I like to do. That's part of my craft. I wanted her to be different. I didn't want her to be the same Sue Ellen we saw before. I wanted people to say wow she's tackled those demons, she's her own person.

She still has some flaws but as a lot of people I've talked to, they work through things they are not happy about in their lives and they are different people than they were twenty years ago. So that's who I wanted her to be. Bobby is always good, JR is usually bad and I wanted Sue Ellen to be different. Somebody wrote a very funny thing on Facebook, one of the fans and they were not happy, they didn't see Sue Ellen so they said JR black, Bobby white and Linda grey. I thought that was adorable.

I look at Sue Ellen and thought she knows all the bad things about JR that he taught her about the oil business, not taught her, showed her by example, so she’s kind of a meld between the black and the white. The bad guy, the good guy and she's somewhere in the middle. I like that very much because it means she’s very vulnerable to changes that could occur in her character. When she did that scene with the Michael Jackson line, which was a bit like what JR would do, she would do that only, underline only, when it has to do with her son. She turns into mama grizzly when it has to do with her son. So yes she would do things she would normally not do but if her son was involved she would do it.

Josh - It was interesting hearing a reference to the recent Michael Jackson story. You never heard those kind of recent references in the original.

Linda - It's like we never heard of alternative energy, which I love. It's current. It’s now. The real Dallas is so diversified, not everyone is in oil. I was so impressed that so many women are CEO's of companies and that pleased my heart because we were right on target. Sue Ellen is in the place she should be, a power position; she is talking about her weaknesses and her strengths. She loves Texas and that's the woman I strongly believe in.

Avalon on Twitter asks if you read a script that made Sue Ellen fall off the wagon would you protest?

Linda - I would talk to the writers and say what is your reasoning? I have great respect for writers because it's something I could never do in a hundred million years and I love what they have done. They have made twenty years evaporate. So if they said to me they want her to drink again I would have to, not that I would agree disagree, but they'd have to be a very very very serious reason why for me.

Josh - So you wouldn't rule it out. Just depends on the reason

Linda - I'm not that kind of an actor, I'm a team player. If they felt it was essential for some reason we'd certainly discuss it. I remember on the original show I went to them after season eight and said "I'm tired of drinking and having affairs, this is boring me" (laughs) but they patronisingly said to me "Darling you do it so well" and I thought "Oh rats". I wanted to stop the drinking because I was bored and I feel that if an actor gets bored with their role the audience picks it up.

The audience is smart, fans are smart and they know if you are not being authentic, they know if you are bored, they smell it, it's in their bones and they know. I said "Look I'm getting bored and I'd love love love to stop drinking so we can take her through the process of what does it feel like to stop drinking" They wouldn't do it, so the next season they said "We are going to stop you drinking but we are going to take you down" and I said "How far down?" and they said "Down" and I said "OK".

I had no idea, they didn't tell me I would end up drinking with the bag lady. But they wanted to make a statement and I feel that they did. I couldn't have been happier frankly.

Marie on Twitter asks hi Linda, did you know in advance that Rebecca was actually cliff's daughter or did you find out while filming the finale?

Linda - I found out when I read the script which was shocking. Patrick, Larry and I, we called each other - "Did you know that?" "No" "Did you know that?" "No" (laughs). It was like wow amazing. It was brilliant. I loved it.

Josh - Someone threw in a question here. Where is Sue Ellen living?

Linda - (laughs) That's a great question and I will tell you my answer. Somebody said that in Dallas, where is your house? Where do you live? I said I either live in my car or I sleep on my couch in my office. I thought that was very funny so I asked Cynthia "Where does Sue Ellen live?" she said "It's because we didn't have any money". So anyway that's what happened. Maybe they'll get some more money next year. I think she would be in a high rise, very chic condo. That's how I see her.

Josh - Channel Five in the UK are about to show Dallas. Are you there for the big launch party?

Linda - Well I will be there absolutely for the launch party. We'll be there all next week. We arrive on Saturday and we'll be there for that week. We got a lot to do. I saw a tentative itinerary, are we busy.

Josh - I know Colin is looking forward to seeing you all

Linda - Will you be there?

Colin - Yeah. I believe so. I have an invite

Linda - Oh yes I hope so. We are all going to be there. How could you not see us? We would be very disappointed.

Josh - You did a Channel Five special with John Barrowman. Is he as crazy as we heard, some of the stories about the shooting?

Linda - Who is this? Do I know him? Who?

Colin - Yes. Wasn't there something with a cupboard, a closet, with you in a cupboard? (laughs) He came over to Dallas and did a special for Channel Five.

Linda - Oh my god. That one. The cute one? Is that the one you are talking about?

Colin - Yeah (laughs)

Linda - Oh I didn't recognize his name. I thought he was so adorable. Did that special ever air?

Colin - No no not yet. I think it airs, the week before, or before the series kicks off here.

Linda - Oh you are kidding because we had so much fun. We were very very naughty. We had such a good time.

Josh - Are there any messages you want to send the fans to hold them over until January?

Linda - I want to do a two parter. I want to thank so hugely the fans for being so fabulous, keeping our numbers high so we got picked up in the first place and we can't wait to do fifteen more for you. Where would we be without fans? We wouldn't even be on the air. That's the first statement. I applaud all those fans who have been so faithful to us.

Then to the UK fans when we come over there and when the show starts, I just wanted to tell them Sue Ellen is a little slow in starting in these ten shows but to hang in, don't get disappointed like the (laughs) American fans are and it's going to work out just fine. I didn't want to disappoint, I didn't want fans to say "You weren’t even in it", I didn’t want them to do what they are doing here. I want to tell the fans be calm, say nice things (laughs) and know that Sue Ellen is in it for the long haul.

Josh - Enjoy the ride.

Linda - Enjoy the ride. Yes. That's lovely. I'm in for the long haul. I think they are still working on where to put Sue Ellen. She doesn't have a house (laughs). They are probably working on that as we speak I'm sure.

Special thanks to Linda Gray.

Dallas returns to TNT in January 2013 and will launch in the UK on Channel Five in the next few weeks.

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