Linda Gray talks new Dallas
"Just get ready. You have to go to the bathroom; you have to get your snacks before you sit down because you won't believe what happens" [Season One finale]
You can listen to the audio here or read the transcript below:
Josh - Welcome Linda Gray AKA Sue Ellen Ewing and possibly the future Governor of Texas to UltimateDallas.com. Congratulations on the success of the show and season two
Linda Gray - Thank you very much, it's lovely. We are so excited
Josh - How does it feel knowing the show will be back for fifteen episodes (up from ten)?
Linda Gray - It's exciting. It's always lovely when you know your number one and you get to do more of what you love to do. That's just the way I look at it
Josh - And you feel the love from the viewing public? (Laughs)
Linda Gray - Yes. It's great to do what you love to do and have the response that we're getting. People ask me how does it feel with that twenty year gap and I feel that everything just evaporated. I think that's the best way I can describe it, is that it doesn't feel like twenty years have certainly gone by. It feels like maybe it was a year ago we were there doing it.
Josh - UltimateDallas.com has been inundated with questions, the in-box is full
Linda Gray - Good
Josh - You are really popular
Linda Gray - Good, that's great
Alan B in Ontario asks Loving you on Dallas. What are the main differences between old Sue Ellen and Sue Ellen in 2012?
Linda Gray - There are a lot of differences but you haven't seen them yet. You have to be patient. You are going to see what she's been doing. I found it very interesting when we were invited back, the three of us. I wanted Sue Ellen to be different. As an actor what I love to do is the homework. I like to do the homework first to find out the internal stuff, what is she up to? What is she doing? Where has she been? Who has she been with? What is she drinking these days?....
Josh - Not alcohol
Linda Gray - (Laughs) Not alcohol. I take it very seriously, my job, so I wanted to go deep within Sue Ellen and say who are you? Who are you girlfriend? I felt I had to take Sue Ellen to lunch, sit her down, and download what she's been up to. I did a lot of homework. I walk every day, so every time I went for a walk I would get glimmers into where I felt [she was].
People forget that we are not in charge, we have ideas we can share with the writers but the writers have to knead the story tightly together, they have to make sure that one is not off doing one thing and the other is off doing another thing.
They have to weave it together so beautifully that at the end of each episode something has come together or not, it may continue but there has to be a plot you can follow.
So you can have these harebrained ideas but maybe they don't make any sense in the script, they call it the bible, but in the whole big picture everybody has to fit into that. So I may have some great idea or not a great idea but it may not fit into their plans. I gave my ideas to them and they were so receptive, some made it, some didn't and that's ok. That's what the creative process is all about.
Jacob in Canada asks How have you changed as an actress when you look back at those first original episodes, what's your approach?
Linda Gray - Hopefully every human being, you change and you grow. You kind of go inward and think where are you going in life? What are you doing? I think my character this time is deeper. I've had a lot of experience, I do theatre, television, and I do a lot so it enriches you as an actor. There is a depth that goes on that maybe I didn't have before. I don't know, I do my job the best I can every day. Sometimes you look back and think this was a deeper quality, I feel that about now, Sue Ellen now.
Chantelle in DC asks Love you Linda. I just watched episode five and it was great but no Sue Ellen. The character has not featured as much as I hoped. Will this change? Some of your scenes appear to be cut like slapping JR and some scenes with Cliff. What’s going on? Where's Sue Ellen hiding?
Linda Gray - (Laughs) I'm not hiding at all. I think that's something she should direct to the writers. It isn't up to me. There were two shows that I wasn't in because they had other plots. I knew that going into it, so it wasn't a surprise for me. Tell the fans not to worry; the episode last night (episode five) is the last episode Sue Ellen is not in. From now on, hang on, because she’s back in business. But I think those people should go and tell the writers or TNT or somebody, that they are not happy because I don't like not being there, I want to be in every episode. They had other plots they thought were more important. I don't know, I'm not in charge of that.
Josh - They cut the scene at the barbecue with you and Larry dancing. Did anything important happen in that scene with you and Cliff that we missed?
|Linda and Ken in deleted scence|
Linda Gray - Yes (laughs). To me there was. Here's what I think, and this is just a broad stroke, I'm not the authority on this, the writers are in charge. Sometimes what happens is, when they get together and start cutting it they realize they have way too much time, when you take away the commercials, you cut that out of the process, and it’s actually forty one minutes. So if a scene isn't that important for driving the plot forward they'll cut it out. I think what they are realizing now is that the scripts are too long, so they have to cut out something less important. I don't take this personally as something has to go.
Josh - It'll probably end up on the DVD we hope as deleted scenes
Linda Gray - Yeah I do too. That's when you have more leeway. Where you don't have commercials chopping it up a little bit. That's one of the things that happens you know
Greta in New Jersey asks “Sue Ellen seems to be riding high but would you find it more interesting as an actress if she hit hard times again?”
Linda Gray - I think it's lovely that people are so involved, I'm so appreciative. But again I go right back to the writers. I didn't write Sue Ellen to be an alcoholic in the beginning (laughs) and we are just as surprised as anybody else when we read a script. But as an actor I love it, I love being complex and complicated. There isn't a human being I know who's one note, we're all a little complex, and we've got idiosyncrasies like that, which is a fun for an actress to play.
You don't want to play boring and flat so I love Sue Ellen, I adore her but the fans have to realize that we are not in charge. They write what they write and we do our best to bring magic into those words. That's what I think a lot of fans don't realize, they think we invent things, we don't, we're actors, we look at the script and think "wow what am I doing now?"
The last three episodes of this season are so interesting because when we were reading them we called each other, I would say to Larry "Did you know this was going to happen?" and he'd go "No I didn't see this coming" and Patrick would call "Did you know that was going to happen?" "No". So when an actor is surprised you know it's good because it blindsided us.
Josh - Patrick said it was a jaw dropping finale. Can you tell us anything? Any hints?
Linda Gray - No
Josh - No?
Linda Gray - No. Are you kidding? (Laughs) That's the perfect way to sum it up, because maybe the last, let's see, I saw them back to back, no commercials, we have the DVDs, I'm not telling you anything (Laughs).
I was stunned, as a viewer I was stunned because we read the script, filmed it, etc. But the pacing and the surprises that will happen will throw everybody on the floor. Just get ready. You have to go to the bathroom; you have to get your snacks before you sit down because you won't believe what happens.
Matthew in Finland asks Will we see any big comebacks in the season finale? There are rumors flying that an ex Mrs. Ewing may appear?
Linda Gray - We're the last to know anything. I have not heard anything
Josh - So we could find out but all at the same time I guess
Linda Gray - We'll know when they want us to know
Mike from Fairview asks How would you describe Sue Ellen’s relationship with John Ross and Christopher?
Josh - We have not seen much interaction with you and Christopher yet
Linda Gray - No we have not which is sad. That's what they do; they keep things in a lovely way so that everything is introduced as it's supposed to be introduced, not before. I like the way that people notice Sue Ellen wasn't in there, that was cool and I want them to go and rattle cages. I'm not happy not to be in an episode. I'm not a happy camper. I love that people are involved; it's so exciting to me, the fans stimulate us to want to give you more and entertain you. That's what we do. That's the fun part.
Christina asks Dallas is a huge success again. What makes the formula such a hit? How you react to some of the snobby parts of the press who look down on the genre?
Linda Gray - Oh I don't care about any of that stuff, they can say what they want. Our job is to entertain people, that’s what we're doing. End of story. You know I think all that nonsense of listening to all those people is silly.
Josh - and what makes the show such a success?
Linda Gray - First of all I think people want to see a night time dramatic family related show. That's what they loved at the beginning of Dallas and that's what they like now. People like to see their reality shows, and now it's time. I've always said its timing. It was timing in 1978 and it's the right timing in 2012 to have the night time dramatic show back - family intrigue, backstabbing, it's crazy, I love it. So that's the fun part. Its great writing; its great intrigue. I don't care about the press. Some people are not going to like it.
You don't do things to please everybody anyway, so I say to heck with it (laughs).
Crimper asks Sue Ellen seems to be warming to JR in some of the scenes. Where do you see that relationship going?
Linda Gray - It seems he would like to have her back. I think it's exciting for JR to see that Sue Ellen he always probably wanted to have a powerful one that doesn't take his nonsense. I think she is intriguing to him now and that's all I know because it isn't explored very much so far. He's kind of flirting with her a little tiny bit but he's so occupied with his dam oil deals. (Laughs)
Andrew in Leeds, UK asks You have done some lovely scenes with Jordana. Have you enjoyed Sue Ellen’s relationship with Elena?
Linda Gray - I like it. First of all I love that they're exploring strong women. Sue Ellen being very affluent, very wealthy, she's powerful, she is running for Governor and then she sees this young woman that is toying with the idea of going into oil, etc. etc. etc. She likes that, it's like she is encouraging her to be a powerful woman. We got all these guys there, these guys are a pain in the neck, doing guy stuff...oil. It's lovely, I'm cheering her on, and I’m her biggest fan, her biggest cheerleader. I like knowing that there's a woman that's going into business.
Kennedy in Irving TX asks What was it like working with Ken and Larry again? Is there a potential to revive that old love triangle?
Linda Gray - Well it was so much fun to see the three of us in one room (laughs). I was so excited because there was such deja vu, like wow we are in a scene together. There were very few scenes with Sue Ellen, JR and Cliff Barnes ever, so it was such a cool scene to be together in. It was wonderful.
Pamela from the forum asks It was great seeing you with Ken again. Is there anyone else from the original you would love to see back? How about Dusty? Jared always said you had great chemistry together.
Linda Gray - Oh yeah. You know I don't know. I had such a lovely experience with everybody; it's hard to single out anybody. It's always a surprise. Like when Kenny came back it was such a lovely surprise and I remember talking to Kenny in a scene that was cut out. It was a beautiful scene, shot outside the Opera House, they had beautiful water in front- I don't know why they cut that out but anyway, I remember looking at Kenny while they were adjusting a line and saying "Kenny it doesn't seem like any time has passed since I was standing in front of you saying wonderful lines". Again to use the word evaporated, time has evaporated. It was lovely to be in a scene with him. Really nice and then they cut it out. (laughs)
Scully in Madre de Dios asks We have just seen Mitch Pillegi arrive as Harris Ryland. What can you tell us about that character and Sue Ellen’s involvement?
Linda Gray - You will have to see what happens there, you'll have to hang in. I loved working with Mitch, he's fabulous. Again he's the nicest guy that turns out not to be a nice guy. I remember the first time I met him, it was funny. We were chatting, he had been an extra like thirty years ago, maybe a barbeque or Cattle Barons Ball, I think he went to SMU, there was a scene that he had with me in Sue Ellen's office, I remember looking at him and then he started working, and looking at me, he scared me. I said "Mitch you're scaring me", before the scene we had the nicest conversation, everything was up and happy, and then we started working. He just laughed and said "I'm supposed to", whatever he said it was so cute. That's the quality of actors we have on the show.
Josh_Fangrl from Team JohnRoss asks What’s it like working with Josh Henderson?
Josh - Your Twitter instructor
Linda Gray - (Laughs) I love him. It's kind of a perfect mother and son thing. We did the press tour together, Josh and I, we travelled together and we had such a great time. You get to know them when you fly on a plane and with them all day, when you do interviews - you get to know each other. Every time I would corner him in the car, I'm, sure his eyes were rolling around, I would say "Ok now you have to teach me #ff [Twitter Follow Friday] "
Josh - You're still working on that? (Laughs)
Linda Gray - (Laughs) I get so far and then I'm like it doesn't work. I don't know what I'm doing. He was doing something and I looked over his shoulder and said "What are you doing now?" he said "That's an Instagram. You can't know that yet, you don't know what you're doing yet" (laughs)
Josh - You haven't graduated yet
Linda Gray - I have not graduated. It was so funny and I was like "I want to learn that" and he said "No. You can't learn it. You are not advanced enough”, he didn't say that, I don't know what he said but it was so cute. He was trying to educate me but I wasn't good enough to go to the next step (laughs)
Freddie in San Ġwann asks How would you like to see Sue Ellen develop, do you have any input?
Linda Gray - First of all I don't want her cut out anymore. I want her in every episode, and then I can do something. They don't seem to be writing for Sue Ellen, I'm like "Ok come on guys, you are writing for the guys a lot, you are writing for everybody else but you're not writing for Sue Ellen, so I want them to get off the dime and write for her. You can't do anything if there is no dialogue, what can you do?"
Special thanks to Linda Gray for taking part and thanks to all the fans for their questions.
You can discuss this interview on the fans forum - http://www.forkies.com
The next episode of Dallas is on Wednesday 9/8c TNT
Linda Gray and the cast of Dallas will be in the UK August 2012 in preperation for the Channel Five premiere.
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