Patrick Duffy’s Bobby Ewing has a heavy weight on his shoulders when “Dallas” returns for its third season, this Monday night on TNT.
Bobby’s not only become the patriarch of the Ewing family following the death of his brother, J.R. (Larry Hagman), but he has to struggle with his own morality after playing a big role in framing Cliff Barnes at the end of Season 2, in the “who killed J.R.” twist.
Cliff isn’t the only one fuming (from a prison cell) at the Ewings. Elena Ramos (Jordana Brewster) had her eyes opened when Barnes told her J.R. stole her late father’s land. And as Season 3 begins, she could prove a threat to Bobby’s brood.
With the new season of the Southfork-set drama ready to ride again, Patrick hinted at the trouble coming to the Ewings. And, he discussed starting a new season of the show without his longtime friend Larry, who passed away in November 2012, during a break in filming “Dallas” Season 2.
AccessHollywood.com: Tell me about what it was like starting a new season without Larry. It had to have been an odd experience.
Patrick Duffy: Actually, the thing that made it OK was we actually finished last season without him. We did six episodes after he died, so that really was the transitional period [when we were] dealing with the fact that we didn’t have him as a person there, although we certainly used him as a character, as we are doing this year. And also, Linda [Gray] and myself are probably the two people out of [the] cast and crew that had the easiest time of it — of making the adjustment — and it was because we were the closest to him, although it may seem a little backhanded. I think when you’re as close as Larry and I were… I don’t suffer from any sadness in the sense of the injustice of death or any of those other, whatever description you want to give it, because I only have good memories. Every time I think of him I literally break into a grin, so it’s a thing where I miss him because we [had] so much fun on a daily basis, but I’m not sad, because as I told somebody once, I’m so sated with Larry. He’s in every pore of my body in terms of the 35-year friendship. But it’s a disservice if I bemoan anything. So I love going to work. We talk about the character in the scripts all the time, so I can’t escape him. I’m sure he’s laughing that even though he’s not there, I have to share screen time with him so much.
Access: How much pressure does Bobby feel at the start of the season to have the Ewing legacy and the future of the Ewing Company on his shoulders?
Patrick: Well, I think he feels — it’s so strange to talk about him, because I talk about him as a third person even when I’m directing. … I think [he] feels that, from a lot of different points of view, one is he was responsible for such a negative resolution of the situation at the end of last season, so he’s saddled with behavior that is an anathema to his genealogy, and he is now the central patriarch of the family and he realizes that, as an example, he’s fallen short. So, a lot of this season is the adjustment that that character has to make.
Access: Elena certainly learned some interesting things at the end of last season. Coming back this season, I imagine she will become a force to be reckoned with?
Patrick: You phrased it perfectly. She is gonna be an incredible force. As a matter of fact, we find out on my episode [that I am directing] what a force to be reckoned with she is and I’m really happy because many different reasons. But I love Jordana… What she’s doing now, towards the end of this season, because of the Cliff Barnes stuff, is wonderful to watch and she’s now got things to do on the show that I think they had to work around in the early episodes to keep her involved, and now she’s pivotal and she’s paying it off in a hundred percent solid gold performance. It’s really wonderful.
Access: He is in the premiere, but will we get to see Ken’s cranky character Cliff Barnes coming back beyond that?
Patrick: It’s like a bad infection — they never really go away and yes, as a matter of fact, Ken comes back in the next episode. … That character has become the keystone or the lynchpin in the story of this season because of the end of last season and that framing an innocent man. So he’s alive and well in his Mexican prison and we have to keep revisiting him there in order to keep the plot alive and I love Ken. He is absolutely crazy as an outhouse rat, just insane, but that insanity – and I’ve watched, probably over the years, every episode of ‘Dallas’ at least once and I have, without exception, always told people I think Ken Kercheval is the most interesting actor we have on the show. He is fearless. He makes choices as an actor that no one in their right mind would make, and yet, the audience goes with it. He is crazy and it worked and we’re using him and milking him for everything he’s worth.
“Dallas” returns with its Season 3 premiere on Monday at 9/8c on TNT.
-- Jolie Lash