Ken Kercheval interview
Stage and television actor Ken Kercheval who plays Cliff Barnes in TNT's Dallas answered your questions.
Josh Eilberg- Hi Ken welcome to ultimatedallas.com. It's great to see you back as Cliff Barnes on TNT's Dallas
Ken Kercheval - Thank you
Josh - and most recently in the Twitter universe as well
Ken Kercheval - I know, that's wild, it's crazy. I don't know how much I understand about Twitter. It's bizarre
Josh - How are you adapting to the social media?
Ken Kercheval - I guess it's good. It goes with the territory when it happens but the show has got an incredible response. It was super super big in the UK a long time ago but I think it's heading to be a major success as it was before.
Josh - The questions from the fans have been coming in
Mark in New York asks Were you surprised when the series returned after all these years and what made you decide to play the role again?
Ken Kercheval - It had been talked about for a long long time. David Jacobs, the original creator, I shared a flight with him once and he said there had been so many scripts that had been offered and he said "No this wasn't right" and ultimately it has happened and I think the scripts are really good. They are extremely well written and all the characters interrelate so well. I can understand why it is doing well, that's one point of view; it takes an audience to say if it's doing well or not. The second airing here was 4.9 million people and the network here, just after airing two episodes, came back and picked it up for fifteen more episodes. That's highly highly unusual, most networks want to give it a row and see how it's going to do before they commit themselves to fifteen more episodes.
Hannah in London asks Fantastic there is a season two. You said on Twitter Cliff would be back. Have you been asked to appear in the second season? Would you do it if asked?
Ken Kercheval - I have not heard anything but I think the way these episodes end there is really no way it's possible he would not be back. No way.
Josh - You have come back for three episodes and it seems wealthier than the Ewing’s at this point
Ken Kercheval - It doesn't indicate where I made my money but the indication is that I have more money now than the Ewing’s ever did have
Eric in Florida asks Was it easy to get back into character?
Ken Kercheval - Oh yeah very easy. I know that guy too well
Jamie Lynn in DC asks I am so pleased you are back in Dallas. What was it like working with Linda Larry and Patrick again?
Ken Kercheval - It was great. It was almost like it had never stopped because we had a lot of good times together
Hedda in Norway asks Was it an easy decision to go back to playing Cliff? I came over to see you in White Christmas and thought you were great. Do you prefer stage work?
Ken Kercheval - I am enthused about Dallas, of course I am. Why would I not be? But you know what I am also enthused about? I have been coming over to the UK to do White Christmas on stage over there. I didn't come last year but I want to come back this year. I really want to come back over there. It's a really good good show. I started out on the stage you know. I don't think the Dallas producers would necessarily be too enthused about me saying I want to come over there and do White Christmas on stage but it would be nice if it worked out doing both of them.
Ken Kercheval in White Christmas
Josh - Do you prefer stage work?
Ken Kercheval - Always. I think most actors who start out on the stage that's their first love. I'm no exception.
Flamboy in Bavaria asks What was it like working with Jesse and Julie on the new show?
Ken Kercheval - I think the younger cast is just excellent, I really do. Unfortunately I only got to do one scene, an earlier scene, with the two of them and then a later scene, the last scene, with Rebecca. They are talented kids, they really are. They are not a hell of a lot older than we were when we started. They know what they are doing; they are very pleasant to work with. They come to work prepared, no egos - which is always great for any production. Very respectful of all of us old timers
Goldie in France asks Will we see Cliff’s daughter Pamela Rebecca on the show?
Josh - Or maybe Audrey Landers who played Afton
Ken Kercheval - Audrey and I had a child. I don't know, let me tell you. I didn't even know I was going to be involved until very very late. Everybody would say to me "Are you going to be in the new Dallas?" and I said "I don't know" and they would say "They can't do it without you" and I would say “Oh you're wrong. Yes they can".
Then I met with Cynthia and Michael for lunch and they said they never thought that I would not be included and I said that's great because now I can tell my friends that I am going to be involved because you didn't tell me. That's the truth. So when it came to the ninth episode, the final episode, which has a really explosive cliff-hanger at the end, really explosive. I can't tell you what it is. But even when I went down to do that ninth episode I hadn't seen a script.
I got down there and went to a friend of mines restaurant and was having dinner and I got a call saying you have to go to wardrobe. I said "Go to wardrobe? I just sat down and ordered my food, they said "We have to go now", this is late. I said “Why the hell didn't they take me from the airport to wardrobe” you know. They said "No you can't finish your meal", so they came and picked me up. So I went to wardrobe, by that time it was too late to eat, so I went back to my hotel and ordered room service. I ordered a steak, I got it and it was so bad, this was at a fancy fancy hotel in Dallas, I turned around and called them up and said" Come get this thing I don't want it". I even went down the next morning and said "I don't like to complain but I'm not paying for that dam meal last night because it was just pathetic".
When I went to my room the script was there but I didn't bother to look at it, so I woke up the next morning and thought I should probably read this. On the way to the set I read the script and thought woo maybe I should have read this last night because it's really explosive, I mean assuming it stays the way it was. Everybody on the set was saying "Wow this is really a zinger" and I said "Yeah I just found that out" and they said "Didn't you know?" and I said "No I just read the script this morning". So anyway if it stays like it was written it will be a dynamite cliff-hanger, it really will"
KarenW asks You always say that you played Cliff with humour. Is that the same this time?
Ken Kercheval - I do. I always did because from the very beginning Cliff would always get defeated by JR and then again and again. Finally I went to Leonard Katzman, the producer and writer, because there was another time when Cliff really got whacked down and I said "Do you know what , I'm not sure exactly how to play this because for this guy to keep coming back he'd have to have gone and got a lobotomy because it's ridiculous, you've only got so many cheeks". He said "No Ken, you've got five" and he pointed to the cheeks on his butt. So at that point in time I thought as an actor how am I going to do this and have an audience have any belief in this guy and he's not some kind of imbecile who keeps coming back up to get whipped. I thought the only way is to add some humour to it, just to say dust yourself off, get up and start all over again. At that point in time I really tried to add humour to his character.
Nick in USA asks How is the relationship between the actors and writers/producers different compared to the original CBS Dallas?
Ken Kercheval - Well I don't know. I can't answer that. I know the relationship here before was quite extraordinary but it's so new I don't think there has been any communication along those lines. You don't have any input either, I always say you go to work, I say my jokes, I get my check and I go home. It's not like you can suddenly say I don't like the way this scene is, I don't like this story line, would you please change it? No no no no no.
I can say my dealings this time around have been as pleasant as can be. I do have great admiration for Cynthia because I think she has done a marvellous job of weaving story lines together and she told me the group of writers they have sat down and watched every single episode of the previous Dallas. So they really know the characters well. I never watched every episode; I never even watched the show. So many many fans know so much more about the show than I do. They say "Do you remember the scene you had with so and so?" I don't know. They may as well talk to me about a baseball game that happened in 1948. I don't know.
Josh - A little known fact that people bring up is that you had a one night stand with Brenda Strong's character in the original series.
Ken Kercheval - I did? How can I possibly forget that? That's terrible. That's absolutely terrible. A one night stand. It wasn't good for either one of us, I don't know which one.
Judy asks I’m so pleased to be able to ask you a question. My mom saw you in Fathers Day back in the 70s. In Dallas on TNT can you tell us anything about the mysterious guy I keep reading about who is playing Eric Barnes
Josh - Yes he popped up and said he was supposed to be playing someone called Eric Barnes. Do you know about that or is it under wraps?
Ken - No no. I don't know either of those names. I have not heard of him. I don't know
Afron in NJ asks Linda said in an interview that she had a wonderful scene with you outside the Opera House that was cut. Can you tell us something about that scene?
Ken Kercheval - I have no idea why that was cut and there was another scene after that was cut as well. There was that one scene when I went to Linda's office and Larry was there, then there was a scene of Linda and I and then another scene later and they were both cut. I was feeling that those scenes were almost prefatory to the final episode. I don't know if they are going to try and reinject those scenes into another script, I don't have any idea.
Ken Kercheval and Linda Gray in deleted scene
Josh - Can you tell us what transpired in those scenes?
Ken Kercheval - I was simply telling Linda that JR was never going to change and I was offering her support for her political campaign and she said no she appreciated that but she couldn't take it. I said don't hang around JR because he is never going to change. The next scene, I don't think I should talk about
Henry in Ottawa asks There is speculation that Victoria Principal may return. Would you like to see Victoria back and how did you find working with her on the original?
Ken Kercheval - Victoria has kind of divested herself with any kind of association with the show. She has done her own thing with her makeup company and so on. I'm sure they have approached her to be involved. I think she was involved in the first Dallas reunion kind of show [Return to Southfork] but since then no. She has kind of disappeared off the Dallas face. Victoria and I always got along very well together, it was fascinating, we really had a marvellous chemistry between the two of us. There was kind of an intuitive thing there. Not only on stage but off stage. She was terribly perceptive reading where I was coming from. She'd say "How are you doing Kenny?" I'd say "I'm doing great" and then she come over and knock on my dressing room door and say "OK Kenny how are you really doing?" She was very good.
Victoria Principal and Ken Kercheval in the original series of Dallas.
Slimjim in USA asks I adore Audrey Landers. Would you like to see her back on the show with Cliff?
Ken Kercheval - There could be a place for her of course, we were married and had a child. There is certainly a way to bring all that back together. I just talked to Audrey this last week because my girlfriends’ son has a band and Audrey has done so much work in Germany, she had number one songs over there. So I was calling her to help me, can you tell me who a record producer is over in Munich because I want to tout my girlfriends son to him. Audrey is a sweet sweet lady, she is an extremely hard worker, she really truly is.
Greg asks You are doing a movie I believe- This Promise I Made. Can you tell me about that?
Ken Kercheval - That's interesting. My hometown is like seven thousand population and there is a lady there who had shot a movie. She was shooting this movie and called to say it would be really great to have a hometown boy in this movie. She got in touch with my manager and my manager quoted her my price. What my manager was asking for was probably the budget for the whole dam movie. I had not been back to my home in Indiana for like three years and I really wanted to go back. So I called the lady back and said I would come and do it and she was jumping up and down.
I went back there and filmed two scenes on this movie. God bless em, I wish them well, I really do but I don't think it's going to be a big box office hit. But I applaud her effort and the script was not that bad. It wasn't exactly filmed on an iPhone but it's beyond low budget but I applaud their effort very much and I was glad to do it. But you know they treat me like one of them back there which is pretty nice, it's no big deal "Oh Kenny Kercheval I remember when he broke my boys arm playing touch football in the yard next-door". It's great.
Josh - Are there any other projects coming up?
Ken Kercheval - I'm waiting to hear about Dallas and I'm to hear about being able to come back for White Christmas and that's it.
Josh - Before we go do you have a message for fans?
Ken Kercheval - Well I think there is a lot to look forward to in this new Dallas series. A lot of times these revival things just don't work, the movie was ok but you should have read the book, that kind of thing you know. I don't think the viewing audience will be disappointed with what I have seen with what's going on with the way they are handling this. I think the story lines are very well intertwined, there's intrigue in it. I don't think they will be disappointed at all. I think it' cleaver of them to have some of the old guard back because Larry, Linda, Patrick and myself are what the older viewers identify with. I think that was a good choice because they are drawing from old Dallas and bringing us into the new. It jump starts the new. We will see.
Special thanks to Ken Kercheval and all the fans for your questions.
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