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Patrick Duffy interview

Uncut Channel 4 transcript exclusive to Ultimate Dallas

Interviewer: Can you summarize the character of Bobby for us?

Patrick:: (shrugs) You have to understand that all of us as characters had functions and the basic function of Bobby was good and the basic function of Larry's character ,JR, was evil , these are broad functions, and Miss Ellie had the function of calm. These are very broad generalities but it makes it a very Greek tragedy type of clarity when they are approaching all of these scripts and have to maintain a certain through line for all the characters. I had one thing I always had to be and that was I had to be good.

Interviewer: What about Pamela's character?

Patrick: Well without sounding chauvinistic that once we launched the show the character of Pamela was a basic sub heading of `Bobbys good`. She was tangential in terms of the same function being applied to her character. In terms of the history of the character she maintained the conditions of conflict, bringing the Capulets into the Montegues. But her basic premise of the character was also `good`.

Interviewer: What about Victoria herself?

Patrick: She's wonderful. All the women on our show had an incredible strength of character as people and I think that's why the character of Pamela maintained her qualities. All the women, Victoria, Linda and even Charlene grew up on the show and aged beautifully. We are in a youth market and it needs incredible strength of character to accept who they are and take pride in it. Victoria is an incredibly strong woman.

Interviewer: Donna and Ray where do they fall into place as character?

Patrick : Ray had an interesting history and specifically as Steve is such a good friend of mine, in the beginning they didn't know if they wanted Steve to play Bobby or me to play Ray or vica versa. The character of Ray was suddenly discovered when they decided that Ray would be the third son. At that point his function in the show changed from being a story mover, who's side is the ranch hand on this week? Will he fall out with JR? Will he sleep with little Lucy? All those things were story movers. When he became a family member, joined the Greek tragedy of functionaries, he was more troubled, he was like a good child with weaknesses in character, he had to fall often and rebuild himself. Bobby was good period, Ray wanted to be good but had character flaws.

Interviewer: Actually that's pretty much what Steve told us. So Jim Davis?

Patrick: Jim Davis was my daddy (laughs). Jim Davis defies description, he walked in on the first day, a complete whole character built on years in the film industry. Years I wasn't aware of until sadly after he died and I became a fan of that genre, the shoot em in five day Westerns which Jim was in about every other one. But that's what I now realize looking back, that's what he walked into that room with. He was our John Wayne. 'Til the day that he died, from the first day we met he didn't refer to me as anything other than Bobby and I know that he felt he was the father figure, he was daddy, he called me Bobby socially, calling on the phone, anything was Bobby.

Interviewer: What about when mama swapped heads?

Patrick: (laughs) Welcome to television, she gets on a plane as Barbara Bel Geddes and gets off as Donna Reed and suddenly she's gone again and mamas back. I think Larry has a better take on all that as he had a central position on the show in terms of clout and influence. On what was going on behind the scenes, we as cast members we were very comfortable not getting involved, we liked what we did and in our circle and whatever went on in the tower went on in the tower, Larry was involved in both the tower and the floor. He knows what happened, I don't know the political ramifications of what went on. I do know that Donna Reed was an incredibly gracious woman, I grew up watching her on the Donna Reed show and her many films, `Its a Wonderful Life` was always a favorite of mine before she came into the show. Barbara was one of the great actresses from stage and film. So the politics of one left, one came, one left and one came back , we just made the best of it on the floor and it was a ripple that was uncomfortable but we did have a few jokes the day Donna walked off the plane in her first episode, I'll call anybody mama (laughs).

Interviewer: So the dream season?

Patrick: I left fully intending never to return, one of my favorite and most painful moments was the day that I died on the show, when Bobby died in the hospital literally for all of us was an horrifically affectionate moment. I thought "oh my god", it was the end of such a huge part of my life and then I came back. But I left by dying because I didn't think I was coming back but then when the ratings dipped and Miami Vice was going to be put on opposite and ABC were saying this would kill Dallas, that's when the rumors started and they approached me and made an offer I couldn't refuse. I turned to my wife and told her I was going back and she said the only way they can do that is if all of the last season was a dream and bang it happened and I got a few more years of playing with my best friends again.

Interviewer: Did the dream kill the show?

Patrick : Well I don't know. The cliche is that there are only seven story lines and just keep rehashing. I believe that people looked for evolving things in the show, that's why we did Barbecues all the time and the Oil Barons Ball because there is no better place for disaster to strike than in the middle of some giant social where the whole world is watching. So it when it came time in the year for those events I think the viewing audience anticipated who was going to do what to who. That was part of the comfort factor that drew people into the show, they knew things would be consistent.

Interviewer: Tell us about the humor on the show, such as the gag reel when Sue Ellen is in the hospital.

Patrick : Once we got Leonard's trust we could do almost anything. The funny thing was not Larry and I singing this song but the complete dissolution of Linda and how long she tried to believe she's still supposed to be at deaths door. Those days were icing on the cake, the actual working day was as in enjoyable, these were the things that we sort of did for other people.

Interviewer: Music, you sang with Mireillie Mathieu, can you tell us about that?

Patrick: (laughs) That won't take long. I am a very successful singer, you'd never know it, especially by listening to the record. You could of done anything due to the popularity of the show and there was enough interest out there to do it. Mireillie Mathieu's manager wanted her to sing with somebody, they looked at Larry and thought too old and so decided on Bobby.

Click here to listen to the song

Patrick with George Michael

Interviewer: Did the show change the image of Dallas itself?

Patrick: We filmed a scene, I was in it and I think Susan Howard at the JFK marble memorial wall just opposite Daly Plaza. I think our function, not on purpose, but to grateful Texans, was that we erased the knee jerk reaction to the word Dallas. I think we did that forever now. That's a good thing, there was enough time spent on that particular aspect of our history which obviously is a dark cloud. The city can now go on and be exactly what its meant to be.

Interviewer: One thing that's come up for Dallas fans is gun culture and the NRA, as you may know Susan Howard is an active member and I wonder if you have any thoughts on it.

Patrick: I certainly have views on the NRA. I am opposed to almost everything the NRA stands for, but I do have guns for hunting. I find the slippery slope theory of the NRA and the scare tactics that are not motivated by our constitution or any Bill of Rights, its motivated basically by greed , motivated by money, motivated by certain aspects of Industry that the hinge pinch of which is production of guns and it's irresponsible. I am totally for gun registration and when and if it happens I'll be first in line. Our culture is a violent gun culture and that's a long thing that has to be taken care of very gently because its part of our self identity and we what we have to have is to have enough confidence, which the NRA refuses to admit the intelligence level and the capabilities of its own citizens. We have to reach a confidence level in our identity as a culture and as a people and as part of society in this world that is not determined by our ability to at a moments notice grab a gun and create mayhem. It should be defined by our ability not to do that after doing it for so long and the NRA are just a bit retrospect in their position and the NRA are a culture that has not moved yet basically out of the mid 19th Century and they have to and they will. It's a matter of time and there is nothing that will entrench a group of people or an organization more than a frontal attack and that is what we have to avoid doing.

Interviewer: Well thank you. What a fantastic interview.

Patrick: Thank you. I think I'll have a banana.

 


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