Returning to Southfork for the new TNT version of “Dallas” was an easy decision for Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy, and Linda Gray — J.R., Bobby, and Sue Ellen Ewing, respectively — especially since co-executive producer Cynthia Cidre was adamant that this be a continuation, not a remake. “It just seemed natural to catch up with the Ewing family and see what had happened in their lives,” she says. Hagman, Duffy, and Gray chatted with reporters earlier this year at the Television Critics Association press tour.
Q. Do you feel like caretakers of the legacy of the show?
Duffy: No, that is taken care of by Cynthia and [co-executive producer] Mike [Robin]. Larry, Linda, and I had a dinner with them a year ago, and they laid out their respect for the original show and their determination to maintain that quality, and they have been absolutely flawless in keeping that promise.
Q. Why did you decide to return?
Hagman: Work at 80 years old. How many people do you know working at 80? And doing a job that they love with the people he loves. Oh, yeah, I’m a very lucky man.
Gray: I think it’s interesting getting a chance to play a character that you played 20 years ago. I don’t know many actors who get that luxury. . . . We’re very, very close friends, and so that was a lovely continuation of the momentum we had started years ago.
Q. “Dallas” was very much a show of its time. How are you being faithful to the essence of the original while also making it contemporary?
Hagman: When “Dallas” was really hot, we were in a major recession, and people couldn’t get a baby sitter and have dinner and go to a movie. They couldn’t afford it. So they had to stay in on Friday nights and watch something. And we were it, and here we are again.