Actor/Artist Kevin Page, who plays Bum on TNT’s “Dallas” recently spoke with us about Bum, “Dallas” and his other passions, including writing and art.
Ultimate Dallas: Did the producers give you a back story for Bum or did you create one yourself?
Kevin Page: Actually I sort of had at least a couple different back stories. There was some back story in a couple scenes I did with Patrick (Duffy) in I think the second season that established a handful of things that then ended up cut before it got broadcast, so that sort of never came out. Then the whole incident of course, with Larry passing away and the arc of the show changed a little bit when that happened and so Bum ended up being the guy who shot JR and so I believe there may be some more coming out about bum later in the season, but who am I to say?
UD: Do we have any idea what Bum’s real name is?
KP: Yeah. That was actually broadcast. Somebody did a freeze fram of this a long time ago that I saw on the internet. There was a headshot of Bum and he was holding a mug shot thing and his name was apparently Steve Jones, and that is an established part of the show. You just have to be a real serious fan with a good pause button to figure that out.
UD: Obviously this wasn’t your first go around on the show. you had a couple parts on the original series, one of which was one of Pam’s paramedics.
KP: Yes. I believe that was at the beginning of a season, but yes I was one of the paramedics that brought Pam in when she had her terrible car wreck. I also played a suit salesman with Dack Rambo’s character. I was selling Dack a fine suit of clothes and then even years before that I played a waiter in a nice restaurant that was offering coffee to Ray and his wife at that point (Donna).
UD: So this is like the gift that keeps on giving as Patrick says.
KP: Indeed. It’s been a heck of a run for me and primarily while that’s been happening over the years I’ve been based in Dallas. Although I spent several years in Los Angeles kind of in the middle. I’m a Dallas based actor and that makes it extra satisfying to be associated with the show.
UD: Is that what brought you in for this series because they were shooting in Texas and you just happened to be living there?
KP: Yeah, that’s precisely it. They had gotten picked up after the pilot and they were casting for a character that they wanted to play opposite Larry because they wanted to have some relationship for Larry to engage in and they thought that they wanted somebody a little seasoned so they looked both in Los Angeles and here in Texas because this is where they were filming, and I was just lucky enough & blessed to get the call, and the rest is history.
UD: Now who’s JR’s best go to guy? McSween, Rattigan or Bum?
KP: How can you ask me that in good conscience? (laughs) What am I supposed to say? We all loved JR and were willing to do anything for our friend and mentor. Now of course, I’m fond of Bum, because Bum is the best friend JR never deserved to have. It holds a warm place in both my own and my mother’s heart.
UD: Over the years many people have tried to take down JR, and you’re the one who succeeded. That must have been quite a story for you.
KP: Well I was sort of surprised when it came up. Of course I had to keep the secret for a very long time. Filming it was a really intense emotional experience because first off Larry really had passed away and we all really loved Larry and it was sad to have to, even though it was acting, to go through that emotionally. Then what I did is when I went in to pull the trigger, I tried to imagine it was my own father. So it was really kind of an emotional intense day. The tears were real and it was almost disturbing to do. But I think that also went to where I hope were the realism of the moment and genuine feelings.
Shooting the funeral was a very long day for the crew. Usually there is a very loose crew and a lot of them have worked together off and on for twenty to thirty years. The whole crew has been together for the run of the show for the last three years, and so usually they’re light hearted and they make a lot of jokes with each other. They keep a pretty good sense of humor to work through these long days and that particular day was so intense that everybody basically worked in silence for about twelve hours. They left the actors alone to do what they were doing and it was very quiet and respectful and a little eerie.
UD: What were your thoughts and recollections of working with Larry? He seemed to be so full of life.
KP: Well of course everybody loved Larry and he had such a…what has been described by a lot of people as a very large and a warm personality and a wicked sense of humor, and he was sharp as a tack all the way to the end. In fact I didn’t know he was sick. Apparently I filmed the las scene Larry ever did. It was a scene in a bathroom where we confont John Ross for a moment and it was right before Thanksgiving. I went home to see my parents, and according to the call sheet, Larry was going to be up the next day and then everybody was taking Thanksgiving break. I was telling my parents how great Larry looked when I got the text from my agent that he had passed away. Apparently he never showed up that next day for work he was scheduled for, so the last scene he did was the scene with me and Josh Henderson.
He had a great impact on the people that were around him when I was around. My job was primarily to work with Larry and he just brought everybody up. I’ll never forget the time that we were doing a scene and I had my close up. He could have just gone to the trailer and let me film that, but he sat in. He always gave as much on the close up side as he did when it was his own close up. He looked me right in the eye and said “I felt that.” It was like your dad saying “good job son.” It actually touched me, and that doesn’t happen very often on TV sets.
UD: What’s your relationship like with Josh and some of the other cast?
KP: I just love Josh. I work with Josh a lot and Josh is just as intense as you would imagine him. When we’re on the set together, the way I perceive it is you know we’re all business and ready to go. It’s like a sports competition where we’re on the same team. It’s like playing basketball. Good acting is like playing basketball. You have to move with the flow of things. You’re moving around and intuitively avoiding obstacles like cameras and light stands and you still have to be completely connected to that moment, and Josh is just such an intense actor that he’s right there every time. When you think about it and it’s your turn as an actor to say your lines or try to get across an idea to another character you’re talking about, it’s really helpful that the other person on the other side of that is totally believable and totally committed because then it brings the level of your commitment up even higher, and he’s like that. It’s like playing with a great basketball player. he’s like a Michael Jordan guy.
UD: Now that JR is gone where do you see your role as Bum? Is he going to stay on as a confidante to John Ross and the family?
KP: Well you know I never really comment on plot. That’s not my place and in fact, I don’t really know. I like to say that the actors are sort of the first front line fans of the show because we actually read the story in the script and we’re waiting very enthusiastically to receive these scripts. They’ll come in at eleven o’clock on a Tuesday and you’re anxious to read them. We’re great fans of the show and the plotlines and usually I find out what’s going to happen to me when I receive that script, so I’m waiting with just as much anticipation as you and everybody else to find out what happens to Bum.
UD: Some people think that it could be a good possible match for Sue Ellen at some point.
KP: Well like I said, I never comment on plot.
UD: Obviously the last seven episodes, we haven’t seen a pick up for season four yet. Is there anything you want to tell the fans to get them excited?
KP: Well there’s half of season three left to go and it’s going to start in less than two weeks. I’m excited about that, aren’t you? That’s what I’m focused on and whatever the business side of the business is, it will work itself out and I have great confidence that we will be back with more to tell.
You just won’t know until after you’ve seen the second half of season three where we’re leaving it and what we’re cueing up, so we’ll see. I have no knowledge…they don’t ask me.
UD: You’re very multifaceted. I just want to touch on a couple of your other projects. You’re working on a novel called Private Eye, coming out in 2015. Is that a fiction?
KP: I call it a hard boiled, existential detective thriller…and that’s all I’m going to say about it.
UD: Keep your eyes and ears open for a release date.
KP: Keep your eyes and ears open. We’re still shopping it to publishers. I’m actually starting a writer’s blog that should be coming out in the next couple weeks to sort of support that. I’m going to post articles about acting and about art, because I’m also an artist (as you probably know), and sort of various things about the creative process since I’ve been in one form of art or another for thirty years.
I’ve got my own little system for doing things, whether it’s painting a painting or going to do a scene with Larry Hagman, so I’m going to write about some of that stuff and sort of let people know about the other career I’ve had for 25 years, which as a writer, I haven’t done it much in the last few years because I’ve been busy doing the show and making paintings and other projects.
UD: Do you think of yourself as an artist who acts on the side, or a writer first, or an actor who does art on the side?
KP: Well the way I look at it may not be the way everybody looks at it, but I believe myself to be an artist period. Whether I’m expressing myself as an actor, or whether I’m expressing myself through a visual image, like painting for instance, or whether I’m telling you a story about a private eye that lives in Hollywood that comes across whatever plot twist, these are all essentially artistic expressions. I think the only difference in the act of creativity is the medium. So one of them is acting something out. One of them is envisioning it and sort of making your hands and eyes and your technology work together to make what you’re trying to show and another has to do with sitting down at a computer quietly and telling a story to somebody you haven’t met yet. These are all different mediums of expression. That’s the way I look at it.
UD: The pointillism that you do, for those that obviously haven’t seen it, can you just give a quick description, because it’s something you’ve actually invented I believe.
KP: Pointillism as a painting style is actually about one hundred and thirty years old, but very hard to do. What I did, with the help of a scientist, is we created a robotic platform that took the hard part out of pointillism, which is basically painting with lots of tiny little dots…very small strokes of paint. It takes forever to put them down, so we basically created a technology utilizing robotics and software to place very small paint strokes with great precision very rapidly. Then we sort of solved the problem that made it very difficult for people to make paintings like this.
In the last three and a half years or so, I have created roughly 200 different fine art oil paintings. These are oil paintings on canvas. Some of these are very large. Some measuring eight feet wide by six feet tall and have over a half a million discrete strokes of paint in them. So that’s pretty unique.
Not a lot of people do that style by hand because it’s so difficult. I actually hold a U.S. patent and have another patent pending on the technology that allows us to sort of do this now. So it’s pretty exciting actually. I have a technology company that I’m building around these patents.
UD: You’ve had several exhibits down in Dallas. You’ve dont the PhotoTXcetera.
KP: It’s like “etcetera”, but it’s PhotoTXcetera (as in Texas). We’re all about Texas photography and digital artists and what we call image innovators. I founded this festival this year to focus on sort of the entire spectrum of photography as art. What I mean by that is we have artists in our last show that were doing photography on old glass plates like they used to in the 1860’s with the box. Then we had photographers that were still working in film and we had photographers that were purely digital. Then we had photographers that were working with other mediums like 3D printing.
If you look at the digital world, 3D printing is a type of image outputting in 3 dimensions. Our view of photography goes from the 1860’s glass plates (photos of Abraham Lincoln) all the way up through 3D printing technology and the stuff you can do with digital imaging. So it covers the entire spectrum.
UD: So it’s basically a history of film and photo.
KP: It’s actually a festival. It’s an exhibition. We gather the best artists we can find across that entire dimension and put together these giant art shows where hundreds and hundreds of people come. We got covered on the CBS News and we got a featured article in the Dallas Morning News. It ended up being a pretty big deal because there aren’t a lot of those kinds of activities going on at a state or regional level.
UD: Do you have any plans to take any of your art exhibits around the country at all?
KP: You know that’s really interesting you should bring that up, because my focus starting right now is essentially to do precisely that. I’m in the market to find art dealers because the type of paintings I make are pretty expensive and the way they’re sold is by fine art dealers. Because they’re all kind of individual and unique, I can’t try to sell them at Walmart. They’re expensive and so I’m looking for art dealers that are interested in representing the art. Then I’d bring in my shows that I’ve been doing all around Texas and show up for the reception and stuff. I will be taking my art national as I sort of roll this out. Just gotta find the dealers to do it.
UD: It’s really a good thing. It should be shared with the people around the country. They’re really missing out on not having an opportunity to see it.
KP: Well the thing is with art, particularly very fine art, you kind of have to see it in person. You can’t take a good photograph and then you show it on somebody’s screen or their phone, or even printed in a coffee table book. These paintings are very large and they’re super rich with color and there’s a three dimensionality to the thick tape that’s been applied there that’s very unique. You actually have to share these things in person.
It’s blocking and tackling. You actually have to go around the country and make friends and get relationships and have people set up art shows for you and have people come, drink a glass of wine and stand in front of these things to talk about them. That’s how fine art has to be viewed. It can’t be reduced down to the internet.
The Black and White and Pointillism show is one that we are presenting to dealers and museums as we’ve been talking to them and saying, here’s a show we have and we had great success with it down in Dallas. Here’s some of the reviews and pictures of the crowd.
There’s actually a painting in the show that’s going to be featured on Dallas at the end of the third season. That should be sort of fun. It’s a painting in John Ross’s office. It’s over by his bar. It’s an oil gusher. So if you happen to see an oil gusher in John Ross’s office, that’s actually a Kevin Page original, and it’s still available for sale because they rented it from me.
UD: Any final messages you want to send to people?
KP: I guess like everybody else on the show, I want to thank all the fans for their support and their avid interest. As I understand it, we have some of the better social media numbers of shows on TNT right now, and that’s great. We’re getting the love on Facebook and Twitter, so keep it up. That’s what drives us to tell the stories and the fact that we have an audience that really wants to see them. Thanks. Thanks for watching guys.
For more on Kevin Page, be sure to check out the following links:
Official website: http://www.kevinpage.com/ (covers both art and acting)
Kevin’s Writer’s Blog, Serial Creativity: http://www.kevinpage.blog.com/
Here is a YouTube video about my work as a painter and a pointillist:
PhotoTXcetera on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PhotoTX2014
Interview & Transcription: Josh Eilberg
August 6, 2014
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