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September 9th, 2007. 5.45pm. The lobby of a London hotel. Colin and James from the Ultimate Dallas website are meeting the indefatigable Linda Gray, currently touring the UK as a Aurora Greenaway in a stage adaptation of TERMS OF ENDEARMENT.
To say Linda was generous with her time is an understatement. Expecting a half an hour interview, she ended up giving us nearly quadruple that amount of time, and was gracious and charming throughout.
In an empty bar set aside for the interview, refreshments were ordered and chatting began. When Linda started interviewing Colin about the website, we figured it was time to switch on the tape recorder.
Linda: So how did it start? I mean, how did you start to do this?
Colin: Actually it's ten years ago this month.
Linda: Ten years ago!
Colin: There wasn't much about DALLAS on the net, and we was, like, a huge DALLAS fans, and so it just kind of started with a couple of pages and just, like, became really popular. It was amazing. It was, like, people from everywhere.
The waiter (let's call him Raoul) arrives with water and coffee.
Raoul: Good evening ... Coffee?
James: Yes please.
Linda: Coffee there.
James: Thank-you very much.
Raoul: You're welcome.
A brief silence as cups and glasses are distributed, drinks are poured, etc.
Linda: My homeopathic doctor took me off caffeine, mint, chocolate, and no wine or any alcohol. Not that I drink - I drink this much (holds up a thumb and forefinger to indicate a thimbleful) - but he won't let me have any of that, so I'm lusting - I smell the coffee.
James laughs, Linda chuckles.
Raoul: You're welcome.
Raoul: No problem.
Linda: Thank-you very much.
James: You're performing without caffeine! I don't know if I could do that.
Linda: Performing without ...?
James: You're doing the play without ... (chuckles)
Linda: Oh yeah. Oh that's not a problem, that's not a problem. Everybody else has (laughs) caffeine. I don't mind it.
Colin: You get used to it. I actually stopped for a year, having caffeine, alcohol, anything. And tea, I just had, like, herbal tea. I just had, like ...
Linda: That's what I'm doing.
Colin: ... green tea.
Linda: Yuh huh.
Colin: I felt so much better. And actually, I actually found that I just got used to it and I didn't need the caffeine anymore. But then I started again.
Colin and Linda laugh.
Linda: A year, that's a long time.
Linda: That's a long time.
Colin: It was a long time, it was a long time, but I just felt so much better.
Linda: Oh I feel wonderful, yeah. But you know, trying to find toothpaste without mint in it or any mouthwash, any throat lozenges. If you look at the back, everything has some sort of menthol or ...
Linda: You can't have anything like that, you know like ...
James: Wow, that's hard.
Linda: It was challenging, and I thought "great!" and then, you know, I'll smell a chocolate or your coffee (chuckles). So I'm not quite over that. There were days when I just, you know ...
James: So how long have you done that for?
Linda: Umm, let me see. For two months.
Linda: Two months, but now it doesn't - (to Colin) like you, it doesn't bother me at all.
Colin: Yeah, yeah.
Linda: You know, I don't care about it at all.
Colin: So what's in mint? Is there something in ...?
Linda: The mint negates the effect of the homeopathic remedy.
Colin: Oh I see.
Linda: So it just - it cuts it out. It's as if you don't even have it anymore.
Linda: Yeah, so that's how it goes. So I mean, chocolate has caffeine in it and caffeine has caffeine in it. (James and Colin laugh) Stuff that I want and I love.
Colin: Yeah, loads of things have caffeine in it! (Chuckles)
Linda: Yeah well, I think we're all just addicted to something, you know. So I'll have herbal tea or a decaf in the morning. I'll have herbal tea as my drink of choice in the morning cos I love coffee. So I have, like, a decaf Earl Grey and that's fine; doesn't do anything, but (Colin chuckles) at least it's thicker looking, at least it looks substantial. (Chuckles)
Colin: Has a feeling of ...
Linda: Like camomile.
James: So how's the play going?
Linda: Am I finished with--? (gestures to Colin) I haven't finished with--
James: Oh I'm so sorry!
Linda: "Ten years ago ..."
James: And then we were herbally side-tracked.
Linda: But I wanted the story. Let's hear the story.
Colin: Oh yes!
Colin: So we were a huge DALLAS fans, and so yeah, so we made a couple of pages on the internet and they were just really popular, and so the website kind of just grew and grew and grew, and just became huge. It is so busy. It is really busy. I'm sure you've seen that on our message board.
James: Yeah. It's gotten, in the time that I've been coming to it, it's gotten busier and busier. (To Linda) I mean, have you sensed a similar sort of renewal of interest in the show over the past few years?
Linda: Yes, yes.
James (to Colin): I mean, it's reflected, isn't it, in the -- and it's strange, because it's almost by osmosis.
Linda: I know, I know!
James: It's a really, it's a really odd thing. Cos what I - I sort of - I watched the show right up to the end (chuckles), right up to the bitter end when they were showing it on Sunday afternoons ...
James: ... and by the time it ended, I didn't know anybody who watched DALLAS, and it was really, for the few years after that, it was sort of like this forgotten thing. And I remember going on the internet in a shop and I couldn't figure out how to work a computer, and I had no idea that you had to double click it and I just got really hot and ...
James: ... you only have an hour, and it finally comes up and I saw something about DALLAS, and I was like, "Oh my God, DALLAS!" and ...
Linda: Oh, isn't that funny!
James: Just to see something about DALLAS was such a huge novelty at that time.
James: And then you realise, there are other people out there. But since then, it's like this whole enormous ...
Linda: ... resurgence ...
James: ... yeah ...
Colin: It's just become ...
Linda: ... this energy, isn't it?
Colin: Yeah, yeah. Definitely, yeah.
Linda: You know, we're in the countryside, we're in York, and we've got huge fans there, you know, DALLAS fans, and every night after the show I'm signing autographs and - big, big DALLAS fans - and the fan mail comes in with all these strange DALLAS photographs (laughs) from years and years and years ago. It's so delightful, so sweet, and they write lovely long letters, and you know, it's so nice, so I'm just thrilled.
James: Is it - is it sort of - does it feel more, in a way, more enjoyable now than it - you know, because now it's kind of a nostalgic thing, and you're not in the eye of the storm and ...
Linda: Yes, it's much more - there's a lovely relaxed feeling now, and I love the stories they tell. You know, they talk about their mum and watching it with her, and the quiet times they had together every night it was on. And that pleases me, it really does, to know that a show brought families together. And it was rather a ritual whatever - I don't know the night it was on here.
James: It started on Tuesdays then it went to Saturdays.
Linda: Oh, it went to Saturdays.
James: When it was really big.
Colin: And Wednesdays.
James: Well then to Wednesdays, back to Tuesdays, then Wednesdays, then Fridays, yeah.
Linda: But you know, you hear these divine stories about all these people who just - it was part of their life. You know, they didn't do anything. You know, I mean (to Colin) I'm sure you've heard.
Colin: Yeah. I was probably one of them.
(Colin and Linda laugh)
James: I always remember my mother, and it was - she would listen to Wogan in the mornings, Terry Wogan.
Linda: Oh right, when he did that ...
James: Yeah and she would laugh, because she started watching from the beginning, and she would laugh listening to Terry Wogan talk about what she'd watched the night before. (Linda laughs) And I always remember being - staying up to see FANTASY ISLAND, and that was on ITV, and my mum coming in and saying, "No I'm watching DALLAS."
Linda: Oh no!
James: And then I'd slope off. Little did I know ...
Linda: I'm surprised that you don't hate us!
Linda: This is uncomfortable, this seat. Can I just pull the chair back? Of course I can! This place is just for us.
(Linda moves seats)
Linda: No, I mean a lot of mums did that. They shooed you away ...
Linda: ... or took the - changed the channel for them, so it wasn't - a lot of times it wasn't conducive to family (chuckles) because ...
James: No no no, because that was just the beginning, but then it did become a total ritual thing. I mean, it's funny because I remember - and this is sort of - my dad would laugh at it ...
Linda: Mm hm.
James: ... I would take it - I would just be really excited by it, my brother would take very seriously, and we almost, like, watched it in different ways even though we watched it together. It's kind of interesting, and I think that's the Wogan influence, that we - and I don't know whether this is just peculiar to the British view of it - but we did have a kind of sort of tongue in cheek view of it.
James: Even though it was still really riveting and exciting, you did sort of still slightly stand back and laugh at the - Terry used to laugh at all the millionaires living under the same roof and getting married in the driveway ...
Linda (laughing): I know!
James: ... and breakfast in a hurricane ...
Linda: I mean, that was laughable to us. You know, I remember one day, Barbara Bel Geddes and I were filming a scene in the driveway, the famous driveway, and it was during the heat of the summer because we always filmed in the summertime, and we were standing and the director yelled "Action" and nothing happened. He yelled "Action", nothing happened. It was so hot that the heat had melted the black asphalt and our high heels went in. We couldn't move. (Colin and James laugh.) So we were kind of stuck there in the driveway (Linda joins in the laughter) thinking "What are we doing in this ridiculous driveway?" We couldn't move, our high heels, because the sun was so hot that it just went in and we were just stuck there trying to move and finally we just burst out laughing and said, "We can't move! We can't walk!" (Chuckles)
James: It must be very difficult to act in that - under - in that sort of heat.
Linda: Well, because I think it does something - fries your brain ...
James: Yeah, yeah.
Linda: ... melts it or something. It was not pretty. That's all I can say. It was just not nice, you know, the heat because - I remember we got a note from CBS one time early on and there was a scene where I walk away from JR at the swimming pool and I walk towards the house and I had a dress on, but it was so hot that the back of my dress was wet, you know, here in the back? You know like you sit in a car on a hot day and you ...
James: Uh huh.
Linda: ... get all this wet? And so we get a memo from CBS (laughs) saying, "Why was her blouse wet?" Like that. (James laughs) There are these guys sitting in their air conditioned offices in LA, and we're sweating and we'd have paper towels here on our midriff so it wouldn't just be sweating, and cold towels on our neck, and remember that one year I cut my hair? Sue Ellen had short hair?
James: Yes. Oh yes.
Linda: Because it was so hot on my neck, and I was ending up wearing it up all the time because I couldn't stand the heat on my neck with the hair. It would get all wet and hanging down and looking awful, and then it would never look nice and then a breeze would come up and put hair in my lip-gloss (James laughs) and stuck there. And one day I came home, in-between the seasons, and I said to the hairdresser, "Cut it off!" And the producers hated it.
James: Well, you sort of came out of the hospital, didn't you, after seeing poor Cliff in a coma ...
Linda: Yeah, (James laughs) with short hair ...
James: It was the shock!
Linda: ... and they hated it, but then we won every hair award known to man. Thank God! So then the producers sort of took another look. (Chuckles)
James: And it sort of became a look, didn't it?
Linda: Yeah, it was a look. Yeah, that sort of short ...
James: Did it ever have a name? (Laughs) Did they ever give it a name?
Linda: No. We never named it because we were reprimanded for doing it. (James laughs) They didn't like it at all, the producers, but they eventually got used to it because all the fan mail came in, all the women wanted to know how they could get their hair cut like that and, you know, we were sort of trend-setters, supposedly anyway. So they kind of had to get used to - there was nothing they could do (laughs), except glue it on or I'd've had to wear a wig or something.
Linda: That's it. So should we do the questions, or shall we just chit chat?
James: Well, we could do a bit of both, chit chat with the odd question thrown in, or -
Linda: Sure! You do what you - this is - I'm here for you.
James: Oh that's lovely. So how's the play going anyway?
Linda: Oh the play! Oh I am so happy about the play, and I would love you to come as my guests wherever we go ...
Linda: I don't know where - we're coming to Richmond.
Linda: Is that close to you?
Colin: Yes, that's very close.
Linda: We're at Richmond, Guildford, Windsor. Is anything close?
Colin: That's quite close to me.
Linda: So that's close to you. OK, but come. Just let me know in advance.
Colin: Oh definitely, because on the 15th, isn't there some kind of after show party thing in Richmond? Did you know? On the website? For an extra five pounds, you can go the party?
(Linda looks at Colin blankly. All laugh.)
Linda: October 15th?
Colin (laughing): Yes!
James (to Linda): I don't think [I]you[/I] have to pay the extra five pounds to go the party.
Linda: I will. I'd be happy to. (Colin and James laugh) I know nothing about it.
Linda: But that's OK. You know, on Tuesday, this coming Tuesday, we're all staying after the show to sign autographs. (Chuckles) We didn't know about that! And then on Thursday, the Calendar Girls are coming to see the show.
James: Oh from - the ones they based the movie on?
Linda: And one of them is married to the photographer who shot the calendar, Terry. And so they're coming to see the show. They're hiring a bus up in North Dales, they live in the Dales or somewhere, and they're taking a bus. Twenty of them are coming down to see the show. Isn't that fantastic?
James: Yeah! Yeah!
Colin: Clothed, I hope. (Laughs)
Linda: Yes, yes. (Laughs) They wear their black dresses and their pearls and their sunflowers.
James: Fantastic, fantastic.
Linda: They're coming. So it's just been, you know, just one gorgeous thing after another.
James: So are you still in - you're still in York now?
Linda: Still in York until Saturday night, then Darlington. Then we start the gruelling part when we go Darlington one week, Cambridge one week, Nottingham one week.
Linda: Then I think it's Richmond. I think that's correct. I'll have to look at my ... and then I think it's Richmond, Guildford, Windsor.
James: Oh it's quite a - have you toured before? Is this your first experience of ...
Linda: I've toured once before in the United States with THE GRADUATE. And it was an experience.
James: It is, it is, and it's kind of gruelling, cos it's like your - the one day off is the day you spend travelling, isn't it?
Linda: Yes. And so we've been totally spoiled in York because we've been there - we will have been there five weeks. We rehearsed two weeks in London, in Hampstead, and then we went to York and rehearsed two weeks there. One week in a rehearsal hall and then one week on the stage, so ...
James: Oh that's nice. That's quite a luxury, isn't it?
Linda: Yeah. And then we opened - we did some press nights and then we opened - um, some previews, then we did press night on August 29th. So we've been there, we've been up and running ever since.
And in York, you have no show Sunday, you have no show Monday.
James: That's nice.
Linda: So we're totally spoiled, spoiled, spoiled! And that's the end of the spoiling. (Linda and James laugh) So we'll be all right. We end up in Aberdeen in Scotland.
James: Wow, bring a jumper.
Linda: That's what I've been told.
James: So have you - the reviews have been good. Do you read reviews?
Linda: No, I don't really make a point of reading the reviews, because it doesn't - some people come with a different attitude ...
Linda: ... or they come wanting to compare it to the movie ...
Linda: ... or they compare - you know, they pick it apart. And we're here, there to entertain. And of course everyone's - when you do an adaptation of a movie and when people have won Academy Awards, (chuckles) that's challenging.
James: Yeah, yeah.
Linda: So, so we don't go that way. We don't - this is an entirely different take on the whole TERMS OF ENDEARMENT.
James: Cos it was a book originally, wasn't it?
Linda: Yes, and a lot people don't know there was a book. So Dan Gordon who wrote the play, he took the book and the movie and wove them together, and there's even some scenes that weren't in either one, but nobody - it's so beautifully woven that people don't know. People aren't - nothing stands out.
James: Yeah, yeah.
Linda: So I think that's really a quality of a playwright, to just weave it together so beautifully that you don't really know. It's a little, nice trick. It's seamless. It's just flows. So people who know the movie, they never come out and say, "Oh, what was that movie - what was that scene, it was never in the movie?" You never ever hear that.
James: And it's only five characters, which is interesting, isn't it? He's sort of distilled ...
Linda: Yes, the relationship. The playwright said, "What is the really - what is the essence? What am I doing here? What is - who are we talking about here?" And it's really the mother and daughter relationship. That's the core. And then everything else. (Coughs) Excuse me. Is it freezing in here or is it me?
James: Yeah, it's a little -
Colin: It's the air conditioning. It's making me -
Linda: Me too. It was like freezing, and it's too cold. Maybe we should move. Maybe we should go. We should go. Is it too crazy out there? (Referring to the lobby) It's not bad, but it may be too noisy. You think?
James: I don't - do you -
Colin: It might be - I mean, if it's getting a bit uncomfortable in here, then possibly - (pointing to a room at the other end of the lobby) What is through - ? What is that? Is that -
Linda: It's a restaurant.
(Colin coughs and laughs)
Colin: It's making me cough in here as well.
Linda: I know. So that's not good, that's not good. We have to go.
Linda charms the restaurant staff into letting us use an out of the way table to continue our chat. We start talking about the TV interviews Linda has scheduled for the following morning.
James: Fern and Phil are ITV, yeah.
Colin: Fern and Phil, and then there's ...
Linda: And then the BBC tomorrow.
James: Can I now go back and ask you some questions?
James: "Let me take you back, Linda."
Linda: OK. (laughs)
James: To, um, cos I've always been intrigued about the famous story about when you auditioned for DALLAS and the part was so small that David Jacobs had to write a scene especially for you.
James: And you cried. Is that right? You cried in the audition. (Chuckles)
Linda: I did.
James: Why? What was--
Our waitress, Cassie of course, appears.
Cassie: Sorry, I'm sorry.
James: Oh no, I'm sorry.
Cassie: Would you like anything else to drink?
Linda (to James): Would you like any more coffee?
James: I'm all right, thank-you. I'm OK.
Linda (to Colin): Do you want anything?
Colin: I'm OK.
Linda: Do you have cranberry juice?
Cassie: Cranberry juice, yes.
Linda: And some fizzy water?
Cassie: Tonic water?
Linda: Not tonic water, just ...
Cassie: Sparkling water.
Linda: Cranberry juice, yes.
Cassie: Cranberry juice with sparkling water?
Linda: Yes, I'll add it myself.
Cassie: OK. (To Colin) You want anything else?
Colin: I'm fine.
Linda (to James): You OK with coffee? You want some coffee?
James: No, can I just have - can I just have some water, fizzy, a glass of water. Actually, lemme just have a glass, or just some fizzy water.
James: That'd be lovely. Thank you. (To Linda) I'm just intrigued. What was it ...
James: What was it about - was it something in the script that made you cry, or were you in the habit of -
Linda: First of all, there was no script. It was a piece of paper, an audition scene.
Linda: And I knew that in the scene, JR was calling me because there was no one else in the room. So there wasn't another actor to work with. It was a one way phone call. A phone conversation with JR, but he was telling me that he was not coming home for John Ross' birthday because he had to work late or he had to something, but I knew he was with somebody else. So it was very sad. So in the audition, I did cry because I knew he was lying to me. And I knew - it was the first time in my life, I think - that I knew in the room that I got the job. It was one of those, you know, intuitive things.
James: And am I right in thinking you hadn't done a lot before that?
Linda: No, I hadn't. I just had finished - not yet finished, I was still doing the series with Norman Lear.
James: ALL THAT GLITTERS.
Linda: ALL THAT GLITTERS.
James: Written by Ann Marcus ...
Linda: Yes. Good. Yes! Good!
James: ... who borrowed one of your dresses (chuckles) - because I've just finished reading her book - to go to some high school reunion. I think it was the dress that you punched JR in at the Oil Baron's Ball. (Chuckles)
Linda: Oh I see, I see! I think you're right. I don't know if that was the exact dress ...
James: No, I wouldn't expect you to. Yeah, so you were still doing that. I think it's quite an interesting thing to - is that something you have the facility to do, to be able to cry? Like a technical -
Linda: No, I don't use - the technique is internal. I don't use some outward technique or think about a dog or cat or somebody that died. I don't do that. I don't do those Method things. Those don't work for me.
Raoul arrives with more refreshments.
Raoul: You're welcome. Is that enough cranberry juice? That's enough?
Linda: Yes, that's lovely. Thank-you. (To James) So I don't do that. I have my method.
Linda (laughing): It's not the Stanislavski Method. (To Raoul) Thank-you.
Raoul: You're welcome. Thank-you.
Linda: I'll add the cranberry juice to that. Thank-you. (To James) So it's just my own - You know, I absorb things. I think I'm more like a sponge ...
Linda: ... and then I listen and I react. So for me, it's my way of acting.
James: Had you studied then? If you'd not done a lot of work, you'd studied ...
Linda: I had studied, yeah. I studied with a man named Charles Conran in Los Angeles. He was extraordinary. In our class, we had Susan Blakely, Veronica Hamel, Carl Weathers. A lovely class, you know. So I learned a lot from him. Mostly it was just an internal knowing, I don't even know how to describe it.
Linda: And then later on, I studied with Ivana Chubbuck, who's very well known now. And that's what I've done. I've always studied.
Linda: I've studied with [mentions a French name] who's a French teacher. Studied directing with her. She's a French director slash acting coach, and I've studied with Hank Berrings. You know, I've always studied a lot ...
James: While you were doing DALLAS you were studying?
Linda: Oh yeah.
James: So what were you - did you look for different - different - different skills? What would take you to a different teacher? Was it to experience this style of acting, or this approach?
Linda: It wasn't that I was drawn to one particular teacher for a specific thing. It was that I always feel that you never stop learning.
Linda: And some people inspire you in one way ...
Linda: ... and then there's someone that you feel drawn to for one particular reason or another, and I love them all. So it isn't about not liking one or the other ...
James: No, no no.
Linda: ... it's just sort of an expansion.
James: And did that then sort of inform - keep your work on DALLAS fresh?
Linda: Yes. Mm hm, mm hm.
James: Oh that's kind of interesting, that's interesting.
Linda: Yeah, because you didn't have time, you didn't have a lot of time on DALLAS to study with anybody frankly (chuckles), because you would sit in the make up chair and the next week's episode would come on your lap, and you'd be in the make up chair trying to get ready for this particular episode, and at the same time you'd be reading for the next.
James: So there was no rehearsal - you had no rehearsal for DALLAS? It was just, like, rehearse/record?
Linda: Very minimal, very minimal ...
Linda: ... which was challenging, you know? Like in the theatre, you rehearse and rehearse and hone it and get everything the way you want it, and then you still get to play and find new nuances and new things every night, but with DALLAS, we had very little rehearsal time. So it's not like people think. A lot of that was more spontaneous.
James: So it was a kind of intuitive ...
Linda: Mm hm.
James: ... and did you feel like you had a kind of intuitive response to that role?
Linda: I did.
James: Even though there was so little to go on, there was something that you could -
Linda: Mm hmm.
James: Cos - so I'm kinda curious. So you'd trained and you had this facility, this ability, and so were you quite - by the time DALLAS came along, were you quite hungry? Were you looking for something to put all that talent into, something to pour all that -
Linda: Thank-you. That's very sweet, very sweet of you. I appreciate that. It wasn't as if I was looking or searching. None of that happened. Ruth Conforte was - (coughs) excuse me - that air conditioning got us - Ruth Conforte was actually one of the casting people on ALL THAT GLITTERS and she had heard that they were looking for someone who could have been an ex-Miss Texas, and it was never meant to be a big role, so she called them at Lorimar office and said, "Do you know Linda Gray?" And nobody had heard of me and they said, "No, we don't know who she is." And she said, "Would you please let her audition for Sue Ellen Ewing, the wife?" And they said, "Well we already have somebody." And that was Mary Frann. And she said - and they said, "Well, we haven't quite decided and bla bla bla," and they said, "What does she look like?" and she said, "Well she's a brunette," and they said, "No, we've already cast Victoria Principal. We don't want another brunette, bla bla bla," and she just begged and begged and begged them to see me. And there was no script to read, so that's when David, yeah, wrote that speech, the audition speech. So I went in and I knew I got it, and I loved Mary so that was like uh oh! (Laughs) You know, I thought "Oh my gosh, my friend!" But the thing that happened was that she got THE BOB NEWHART SHOW, so everything was fine cos she was better at the comedy than I was, so it all worked.
Linda: It all worked.
James: And you did the kind of - the research, you went to Neiman Marcus. Have I got this right?
James: And did you do that just for that - even though it was such a small part - or did that come later when the part got bigger?
Linda: No no no, because when we went to do the mini-series which was not even a - it wasn't called a mini-series back then. It was before the word "mini-series", which was really funny. I feel like an antique. (Linda and James laugh) We were unemployed actors who got a great job, but we got a job for five one hour shows. That's it. So that's what happened. So we were all thrilled. And I remember going in and reading the script and we were in this room and I met Larry who came in with these saddle bags filled with champagne, and Barbara Bel Geddes whom I adored. I thought, "If Barbara Bel Geddes is doing a TV series ..."
Linda: " ... that's OK with me." (Chuckles)
James: Had you met any of them before?
Linda: No. Oh yes. You know what? I did - I did meet Patrick Duffy. When I was doing ALL THAT GLITTERS, Patrick had seen me on ALL THAT GLITTERS and sort of admired my work. And then we had a mutual make up man and I had been working on ALL THAT GLITTERS and we had to drop something off at Patrick's home. So we came by in 1977 to Patrick Duffy's home and brought something by. So I met Patrick Duffy, never knowing that we'd ever get together ...
Linda: ... or become dear friends. Never. So he was the only one I knew. I mean, I knew Major Nelson (Linda and James chuckle) and I knew of Barbara Bel Geddes' career. I never knew - I didn't know Victoria, Charlene, Steve. Jim Davis I knew from watching him on screen, but I didn't know anybody - I was kind of new. Maybe Charlene and I were the least known, I guess.
James: And there's an interesting - because I've been looking at Barbara Curran's book, you know, "The Complete Book of DALLAS"
James: It's a fantastic - there's just so much - it's got all the information you could possibly want in there, and there's an interesting quote from Leonard Katzman when he says about you, "Linda hadn't done much of anything ... We didn't realise what a gold-mine we had." (Linda laughs) And that they didn't realise what you were capable of, and the more they saw the more they wrote for you, and that's how the part expanded. And did - I mean, did you realise what you were capable of? Did you know, or was it as much of a discovery for you, this part? You know what I mean?
Linda: Yes. Well, it just - it grew.
Linda: You know, that's when I - to get back to your Neiman Marcus question, that - because in the early five episodes, I wasn't in them very much so I had a lot of time off.
James: When you were in Texas, yes.
Linda: You know, and I was in Texas. I'd never been to Texas and it was as flat as this table and it was brown and it was January, it was '78 and it was freezing cold - snowstorms, ice storms outside - and I was sitting in this ugly motel, not even a hotel. Ugly motel, with ugly green shag carpeting and orange walls. (James and Colin laugh) I was like, "Oh my God, where am I?" And my family was at home ...
Linda: And so I thought I had better do my homework. And I would trot out, go to Neiman Marcus because I thought, "OK, she's rich. She - this is where she would go" and I wanted to get information from the local people: what they talked about, what they wore ...
Linda: ... what they, you know, what their attitudes or political views were. I wanted to be the sponge and get it all in, as much as I could. I didn't know we were ever gonna be successful. I just knew I had a job and part of my job was to research as best as I could.
James: And so there's a kind of parallel between you having time on your hands and seeing what the character would be doing because she had time on her hands ...
James: ... that kind of rich, idle ...
Linda: Exactly. So I wandered around Neiman Marcus, and I just listened and watched what they bought. I wanted to see what they bought, and just sort of absorb. And it was so helpful to me ...
Linda: ... not knowing that we were ever going to be even picked up for series. I didn't know, but I wanted to make whatever part I did have, I wanted to make it meaningful.
James: Because even within the mini-series, the part did grow, didn't it?
James: By Episode 4, you're singing "People Who Need People" at gunpoint, aren't you? (Laughs)
Linda: I know. (Laughs)
Linda and James: Brian Dennehy! (Laughter)
Linda: Oh my gosh! You know, so it was all rather a stunning growth period ...
Linda: ... that really thrilled me ...
Linda: ... because I was never meant to - the funny thing is, the first script, the very first script, you know, when I had the "More coffee, JR?" or whatever, I could have been anybody because nobody ever called me by name. In the script it said, "Sue Ellen: 'More coffee, JR?'" but nobody ever called me that. So I could have - so then we started laughing and somebody said, "You're the Brunette on the Couch." So I became The Brunette on the Couch for a while, because it was all funny and it was the funniest cast in the history of mankind, still is, and all of these nicknames sort of came up. I mean I could have been a masseuse or I could have been a tennis pro ...
Colin and James laugh.
James: The live-in masseuse!
Linda: Yeah, because nobody really - I wasn't to be supposed to be a big part at all. So my first lines were (chuckles) sort of non-existent. So I did have a lot of time on my hands.
James: And then it just grew, and I think what's really - I think what's just so - what makes it such an interesting character, I think, especially in the first two or three years, she has so many different faces.
James: There's the face when she's with the family, which is all smiles. Then there's the behind-closed-doors face with JR upstairs. Then with her psychiatrist, with Dr Elby, she's someone else.
James: Then with either Dusty or Cliff, you see a different side to her. And - I mean, I think it would be - I think you could have gotten away with - I mean I think a lot of that comes from you. You know, I think the fact that you played - was that a conscious thing or was that an intuitive thing? "I'm gonna show a different side of Sue Ellen in different ..."
Linda: I think more intuitive because it's like life. You know, when you're with your family, there's a different you ...
Linda: Not that you are ...
James: They bring out a different side of you, don't they?
James: You keep other sides of yourself apart. It reminds me of William Devane when he played - when he was in KNOTS LANDING - Bill Devane ...
Linda: Oh yes.
James: And he said he always tried to have a public face for his character, and then a side that only the audience ever saw. And I think there's a similar thing - that the audience knew, that they saw a side of Sue Ellen that, say, Miss Ellie and Jock didn't know about, or the rest of the family ...
James: ... and I think that's where that empathy, and there's a terrific empathy, even now, for the character, because they - almost because we see things through her eyes. Do you know what I mean?
James: We almost see the rest of the family through her eyes. Even though it was - I think it was originally Pam was the - was the - she introduced us to the family ...
Linda: Mm hm.
James: ... it became Sue Ellen who was sort of the outsider ...
Linda: Yes, yes, yes.
James: ... and I think there was something very sort of poignant - she became sort of the human - because you tried to do what JR did, could do with impunity, the scheming and everything like that - but you weren't as good at it because you were, you know, human. You were vulnerable.
Linda: Yes, yes, vulnerable. Cos I realised that early on that I could play her as one note - she could be just a bitch.
James: Yeah, and that would have been so easy to do, wouldn't it?
Linda: And OK, I thought, "That would be easy" but that isn't what I wanted to do.
Linda: You know, because I felt - because I always find when you do your character research, try to find out who - I thought, "Well, who is Sue Ellen? Why did she marry this weird guy?"
Linda: "Let's find out who these people are." I have to know that stuff.
Linda: I have to dig and keep digging. So I know who we're talking about here.
James: And so when they brought your mother on ...
Linda: Mm hm, Martha Scott.
James: ... Martha Scott as your mother, did you ever - did you know any of that back story before? That she was this kind of controlling -
James: So that was - that would have been interesting then, wouldn't it, because -
Linda: Because I needed to know why she married JR. Why? What choice was that? And then what choice of it was his family? Sue Ellen was raised to marry rich and he was married - raised to - you know, in his circle, to marry the pretty - like a lot of people - to marry someone just visually.
James: The trophy wife.
Linda: The trophy wife. So - and the big Sue Ellen ring, I mean that was consciously chosen.
Linda: Because it wasn't for her, it was to impress his friends.
James: Uh huh, uh huh.
Linda: So I wanted that ring, because even though they had this pretty shallow relationship, deep down they loved each other. In a very dysfunctional way. (Chuckles)
James: Yeah. Sorry, did you know that from the beginning, that they - that it was that - because I think that it only became apparent to the audience, as the show went on, that there was something underneath. Was that a discovery for you as well? For you and Larry, do you think?
Linda: Yes. Because we decided that they were married, as dysfunctional as it was - but it represented a lot of dysfunction in a lot of people's relationships. So we wanted that to - to - what's the word? - to marinate.
Linda: We wanted to get really rich and juicy and yummy ...
James: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Linda: ... and dysfunctional. But we wanted that richness to be - to be better, to be palpable.
James: Yeah, it's a very visceral ...
Linda: Yeah, precisely.
James: ... it's a very physical relationship. It's quite - I mean, there's lots of - in those early years - lots of yanking and pulling and ...
Linda: Yeah, and throwing things ...
James: ... and throwing and slapping. (Linda chuckles) I mean, none of that looks like - you don't look like you're pulling your punches there. I mean, I think he only struck you once, which is the episode where you tell him you're pregnant ...
Colin: I love that!
James: ... which is a bit unfortunate, (Linda laughs) but you were always knocking his hat off, and - did you have a kind of pact that you would just go for those - that you would just go for those scenes? You know, you wouldn't pull any punches when you had those sort of scenes?
Linda: Oh no, we'd go, we'd go for it. Yeah. We liked those.
James: Those are great. And it's quite interesting you're working with Suranne Jones now because she sort of - what made her famous was a very similar ...
Colin: Oh yes!
James: ... volatile relationship ...
Linda: Oh really?
James: ... on CORONATION STREET with her screen husband. You know, it's love/hate - and she was always belting him (Linda laughs) and, but there's something very -
Colin: So true.
James: I mean, obviously there's more to acting than just hitting people - but there is something - when you've got that chemistry, there's something very volatile and very - it feels very alive, doesn't it?
Linda: Oh yeah. It energises.
James: It's almost like - it's almost like theatre, isn't it?
James: Because you feel like it's happening between those two people and ...
Linda: Mm hm.
James: And I just - there was something (flicking through notes) - because that book is just indispensable, the Barbara Curran book - later on in the book - just to jump ahead - you started directing ...
James: ... on the show, and you said you wanted to bring more movement into it, you wanted to bring more camera movement - and was that - was that - do you think - because in the beginning, the show did have a lot of that - you and Larry had a lot of that physicality -
Linda: Mm hm.
James: - and do you think that kind of got lost as the show went on and it became more - ?
Linda: Well, I think the show, like any show, you know, they kind of go on their wonderful adventure. And sometimes it went to the business side more, so that was the focus for a while, and then it - it just took its natural path ...
Linda: ... which I thought was wonderful, and I think that that's what kept a lot of viewers interested, where it wasn't just ...
Linda: ... stayed in one story-line. You know, it was always growing and evolving - and the more we got involved, you know, we would give suggestions that were sometimes taken and sometimes not. You know, the more we got involved ...
James: And so were you encouraged to sort of have in-put and -
Linda: Not really encouraged, no. (James laughs) I don't think they really wanted our in-put. (Chuckles) No, I don't think so. Sometimes we would bring up ideas or -
James: Because didn't you and Patrick come up with the idea of building that relationship because you wanted -
James: So was it your idea for him to become your ally? I mean, he was the first one who -
Linda: It was Patrick and I, we both came up with that. We felt Sue Ellen needed an ally.
James: Because he was the one person she confided in. That was a nice relationship. That was an interesting relationship.
Linda: Oh yeah. I loved that.
James: Was there - did you have any particular - is there any particular scene that stands out to you, that you remember - Sue Ellen and Bobby together?
Linda: Gosh, you know I think Sue Ellen and Bobby grew. We grew into this wonderful, respectful relationship. It was really - so there isn't one particular one.
James: I know mostly - but sometimes, whenever she went back to JR, she would turn on Bobby. So loyalty wasn't a -
Linda: Yeah, yeah, yeah. She wasn't -
Colin: The bar scene actually, with the big fight, was a good scene with Bobby. When Sue Ellen has a big day's drinking and Bobby comes to -
James: Oh. Oh right.
Colin: The big fight? With the bag.
Linda: Oh right. Yes, yes. I remember that.
James: That's right, when you think you've seen Dusty, and it's really the guy who's married to Linda Evans in DYNASTY later on.
Linda: Yes. Exactly.
James: And there's the great scene at the end of the first season where he comes to see you in the sanatarium ...
Linda: Mm hm.
James: ... Bobby, and you're a very lovely, drunken, pregnant mess.
Linda: Mm hm, mm hm. Yes. I was a giant mess, yes. (James chuckles)
James: And you tell him that you - and you kiss him and you say that if you'd only have met him first, you'd have married him ...
Linda: I'd married the wrong brother. Yes, yes.
James: Yes, and then - and this just shows what a sort of hopeless DALLAS geek I am - but ten years later, I think it was one of your last scenes with Patrick on the show, and you said to him, "I told you once before, I married the wrong brother."
Linda: I remember that.
James: Did you remember that being a call back to the beginning of the - do you remember that being a -
Linda: No I don't. I don't. Good for you for remembering.
James: That was a lovely thing, when you got that sense of history about the characters.
Linda: Yes, yes.
James: That was a lovely sort of -
Linda: Bookends, yes.
James: Yeah. And so we know all the stories about the clowning around that went on, all the peanut butter spitting ...
(Linda and Colin laugh.)
James: ... and locking people in disabled toilets and all that sort of thing. And the image I have - I may be completely wrong - the image of you and Larry sort of riding around on mopeds, riding around on the lot ...
Linda: Yes, yes.
James: ... and then they call "Action" and then you just go into these incredibly emotional scenes. And it just seems to me - I mean, if that was me, I would have to go off for an hour and hit my head against a wall in order to get into the right emotional - but you were relaxed enough to be able to do both.
Linda: Well, I think it's very important for actors not to stay in the doom and gloom if they're doing a dramatic scene -
Linda: - because then it tends to mean it gets too heavy.
James: Right, right.
Linda: But if you have, I don't know what you call it over here, but you know like a pressure cooker? When you cook something and you get that little steam thing coming out?
James: Uh huh.
Linda: You have to let some steam come out, so that you have really rich vegetables later. Do you know what I -
James: I do, yeah.
Linda: Maybe that's not a good ...
James: No that's a nice -
Linda: ... way to express it.
James: Something has to be - you have to leave - it has to be in the moment, doesn't it? You have to allow -
Linda: Yeah, otherwise it just - it would just be - this way, it was a lovely way to be in the moment without sort of heavy carrying around of rocks on your back or something. It was just a way to let the steam escape, so you could just get right back into it with fresh eyes. You weren't, like, carrying it around all day going, "Oh my gosh, I've got a very serious scene here. I have to be very -"
James: I'm just intrigued, because you were relatively inexperienced, that you knew how to do that. How did you know? I mean, that just seems a very wise, thing to know.
Linda: It was really the way that I most comfortably felt acting. It was more intuitive.
James: That's great, isn't it?
Linda: I mean, I listened to people. (Coughs) Excuse me. I listen to people and I react. I mean, I react to - and I get all my research done, and that's who - that's who I play. I mean, that's what actors do. You know, we're portraying. Sue Ellen is not me.
Linda: Aurora Greenaway is not me. You know, all of those things - that's what we do. I mean, that's why we're called actors. We're acting ...
Linda: ... we're portraying, we're entertaining you. And I think a lot of time that that's forgotten because - we love to entertain people. We love to make them laugh, we love to make them cry, we love to tap into their heart, let them feel. I think people are anaesthetised. They don't feel. And so what we do on film or on stage is we hopefully tap into a portion of you that allows you to contemplate, to think, to laugh, to cry, to look at your relationship and go, "Oh, we need to fix that or talk about this or do that." It brings a lot of stuff to the surface ...
Linda: ... that perhaps no one would get ...
James: - be able to reach on your own.
James: It's a bit like music.
James: It taps into ...
Linda: Yeah, exactly. Beautifully put. But it is, it's the music, it's the music of the soul and we do our best to bring it to you, so that we can entertain you in various forms, you know.
James: It's kind of interesting cos - that you talk about it in that way, that's a really sort of lovely way, and at the same time, nobody took DALLAS - or one gets the impression - that you didn't take it [I]that[/I] seriously, or too seriously. It's an interesting sort of paradox, and again I guess this goes back to the Wogan thing that we've - it was made fun of, in a very affectionate way - more in Britain than in anywhere else - that we made fun of it, but we loved it - and I think it's only going back now and seeing the DVDs that I think, "My God, even though I loved it, I don't think I ever realised how good it was." Do you know what I mean?
Linda: I think a lot of people are coming to that realisation now. I think that's why it's continued on for so long, that they're doing their own deepening, and they're thinking, "Wow, that was good." But we - I don't - I don't wanna lead you astray and say we didn't take it seriously ...
James: No, no.
Linda: ... like saying we're running round on motor scooters and doing joking and all that, but we were - a very, very professional group of actors that were there. I mean, very - an incredible group of people, and we were all very professional. It's like the play I'm doing right now. We're all very professional and, you know, I'm honoured to be on stage with these people. I mean, their body of work is huge. But we all come to work in a very professional way.
Linda: And yes, do we joke and kid and have fun with each other? You bet. But that is the balance that you need, the balance, to -
Linda: When you put yourself out there onstage for two hours, good, bad or indifferent - you're putting yourself out there. There's no take two, there's no "oops, I forgot my line." It's like, OK, you make a mistake? That's your responsibility. If you do a great job? OK, did a good job tonight. But it's very professional. I mean, obviously, the people on the tour? Phew, hugely, hugely professional (chuckles), yet we laugh and giggle and have the best time. But you go on that stage and it's -
Linda: It is serious, you know? And if somebody messes up a line, then the other one will - it's like, we cover it gracefully for each other, you know? And sometimes, you don't know why, but a line will just be plucked out of your brain cells (chuckles). It's vanished, and somebody else will know that and they'll just come right in, and you just support each other.
Linda: And that's the joy, and that's what we did on DALLAS. It's the same thing. We're all very professional, but in that professional circle, in that depth, there's also, you know, a bit of humanness. There has to be.
James: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Linda: You can't just walk around going, "I'm professional." (James chuckles) That doesn't work.
James: I guess it comes from trusting that you know what you're doing, then you can relax, you let it go, can't you? One thing I was interested in - when we - I think when [I]we[/I] think of DALLAS, we think of, you know, the main cast, the family, and Leonard Katzman - that's the names we know. And I just wondered, when [I]you[/I] think back to that - to the DALLAS part of your life, who are the people that you think of that we might not necessarily - d'you know what I mean? The names and faces that come to mind that we wouldn't necessarily think of or know or -
Linda: Well, I think what people do forget is that, you know when you hear people on the Academy Awards saying, "It takes a village"? (chuckles) It takes a village, honestly, to gather it all together. From the people who write it - I mean, you think, "Who writes these things? Who takes all these characters and says, 'All right. This week you're gonna fight and then this is gonna happen and this is gonna - '" It's like connecting the dots, it's like this giant map and this person's sleeping with this one and all this stuff, complicated. And then you've got all the technical people, the hair and make up people that are the first people you see in the morning. Those delicious people who, you know, say good morning to you. When you're up at 4.30, you probably don't even say good morning to anybody. They're all still sleeping and you tiptoe out quietly. And the first person that says hello to you is usually the make up or the hair person. That's your first communication with anybody. So people say, when they live with someone, they say, "Good morning," "Hi," "Hi, James," "Hi, Colin," "Hi, Mary." But I sometimes first said hello to the make up and hair people. I mean, all of the technical people that do the lighting, and the man that wrote the DALLAS theme song. I mean, all of these people formed the net. You know, we were just part of - we were doing our part, and we just happened - our faces just happened to be out there, you know? But there was so much to gather, to - you got the prop guy who magically brings you the glass, and this is here when you need it, and the purse - the wardrobe people who really go out and collect all the clothes for you, and then you try them on in long, long (chuckles) wardrobe sessions, to make sure everything looks appropriate. So it takes so many people. And I just love them all still. Sue Kabralla, our make up artist, and she's still - the Head of the Make-up Union in Los Angeles (chuckles). You know, there's still a lot of people that I see.
James: Who, who, who? Cos we'd know the names, you know, from the end credits ...
Linda: Oh. Yeah.
James: ... but we wouldn't necessarily - because we know that you're -
Linda: Some have passed away.
Linda: But Sue Kabralla, and Sherry - what's her last name - gosh, my mind's gone blank. I'll get it. We'll put a pin in that one!
Linda: But ... uh ... I almost got it! (James chuckles) But those, you know, those people are the ones that you treasure, you know?
Linda: And you get these great remembrances of lovely times. You're closest to the make-up and hair people ...
James: Yeah, they're - they're -
Linda: ... cos they're touching you all the time.
James: You can talk to - you can whisper in their ear, can't you, cos they're -
Linda: Yeah, they know everything, I'm telling you. On any set, who do you go to? The make-up and hair people.
James: Yeah, they're the ones you can let off steam to, can't you, (makes whispering noises) cos they're right up close to you?
Linda: Yes, they knew everything. They knew everything before we knew everything. Before we knew anything.
Colin: Actually, Susan Howard said that she found out she was leaving through the make-up person.
Linda (gasps): Yes!
James: Oh you hear - yeah, yeah - you hear stories like that.
Linda: Very strange.
James: Cos it's a sort of - one of the - I thought it was a lovely story that was in the DALLAS book. It was about Alice - Alice Hirson who played Mavis Anderson ...
Linda: Mm hm, mm hm.
James: ... Miss Ellie's lovely friend, lovely Mavis, (Colin chuckles) and how she, in real life, is best friends with Marilee Stone, Fern Fitzgerald.
James: And you'd never put that together - cos I don't think they ever even spoke on screen, and they were just so different ...
Linda: And they just became very dear friends, yes.
James: ... which is really lovely, and I just wondered whether there were any - I think we - and I think on the forum and on the internet, we have a perception of what we think it was like, which is probably quite different when you're actually there. And I'm sure we don't know half as much as we think we do.
Linda: No. I'm sure you don't.
Linda: I'm sure!
James: OK, this is something I have wanted to ask you for so long.
James: I've been really, really intrigued. Two quotes that are quite famous quotes of yours about playing Sue Ellen, and the first one is what an exciting, changeable, fascinating character she was to play, the most fascinating woman on television -
James: And the second is, "All I did was drink and have affairs and drink and have affairs." So there was obviously a shift there, and I wondered when it stopped being fascinating, when it became more repetitive?
Linda: Year 8, Season 8. I was bored to death, and I really wanted to - albeit she was very versatile and interesting and all kind of wonderful nuances as an actor, but it still basically, when you get down to the common denominator, it was still basically two things. She was drinking and having an affair. And I really got bored and I thought, for me, if an actor gets bored, the audience can pick it up.
Linda: And so I told them that. I said, "Look," because I firmly believe that, and I've seen it happen before, when somebody phones it in, they just kinda walk through it, don't care anymore, the audience picks it up. The audience is very smart and they know that something is wrong. They may not know it immediately, but they sense it.
James: That the spark has gone.
Linda: The spark. Like I don't really care ...
Linda: ... I'm just gonna walk through it. I'll hit my marks, I'll say my lines, but I'm not really here. And I didn't want that to happen. So I went in and told them. I said, "I really need you to seriously look at this. Stop it, stop it, and get her to have a life." And I said women just don't do that. They're now starting to take hold of their lives, and Betty Ford had already come out about her problem and I said, you know, the First Lady had a drinking problem and whatever she had, and I said, "Look, we've gotta address these things." So they were like (pulls negative face) "Waaa," and they didn't wanna do it and they were patronising and they said, "Oh, but you're so good at it." I didn't like that.
James: So is this the year - just to clarify, is this year before the dream - what became the dream season?
Linda: I think so. I don't remember exactly. I can't remember.
James: Cos I tell you, I think the season you're talking about is when - it's the year Jenilee Harrison came on and - not that it's anything to do with her, she was lovely as Jamie -
Linda: Oh yeah, no. Loved her.
James: But yeah, you kind of didn't have much to do except take her shopping.
Colin: So prior to the drunk tank stuff?
Linda: Yes, yes ...
James: Yeah, yeah ...
Linda: ... it was prior to that ...
James: ... yeah, that was the year ...
Linda: ... because then they said to me - they let me go away and they said, "We'll think about it." And so I went away, waiting, waiting, waiting ...
James: When you say "they", that would have been the producers?
Linda: Mm hm. That was a little before that. Yes, "they" being the producers, sorry. And then they came back to me and they said, "OK, we'll let you stop drinking." Yes! "But we're gonna take you down to the bottom." And I said, "How far down?" And they said, "Down!" (All chuckle) I was like, "OK, let's go." And that's when - that was my most fun stuff. That was when I loved it. I thought, "Thank God" you know? "Let's just go, get her some real juice, let's just go with that one." And when I drank with that bag lady and I was wearing the Valentino blouse ripped ...
James: That was great.
Linda: ... and I was in the jail. And the coolest thing, for the fans to know, is that it took twenty minutes to get me ready, as opposed to two hours. Sue Ellen took two hours - one hour in make-up, one hour in hair. (James chuckles) Boring in the morning, made me crazy. So then my hair was shortish, and they just put some product in it and took some sort of brush and brushed my face and I was ready. And I sat there the first day and I went, "I'm ready??" I was in Heaven! (James chuckles) I said, "All right, let's keep this thing going for a while. I love it."
James: So that was the year Peter Dunne took over?
Linda: Yes, that's when I went in, I talked to them and I said, "Look, if there's some sort of a take over here, I want you guys to know," because Leonard - Leonard loved me to be drunk, (James laughs) which was fine, you know? And he said that, "You know, you do it well and it works for the show." And I said, "I understand." And then when he left, Peter came and I went right in and I thought, "Great, new blood!" (Chuckles)
James: So would you say, just because - going back to the book again - Jared Martin ...
Linda: Uh huh?
James: ... and Leigh McCloskey, who played Mitch, Lucy's husband, they said that they'd both come back - they'd both been away and they both came back in the seventh year, which was that same year -
Linda: Yeah, uh huh, mm hm.
James: - and they both said there wasn't quite - it didn't have quite the same familial atmosphere it once did. It had become, I guess, more corporate or -
James: And would you say there was - and that's I guess when Patrick was leaving - would you say there was a natural kind of seven year itch ...
Linda: I think so.
James: ... or cycle?
Linda: I think so. Yeah. I think that's what happened and, you know, you felt it ...
Linda: ... and everything was kind of ...
James: And do you think that's just kind of a natural process of ...
Linda: I think so.
James: ... doing the whole thing for that long?
Linda: Yeah. I think so. I think it's the same in any situation, you have to sort of give it a blood transfusion.
Linda: And shake things up a little bit and see if it's really meant to continue. You know, whether a relationship's meant to continue.
James: Yeah, yeah.
Linda: Whether your job, no matter what you do, is meant to continue. You just have to kind of re-evaluate.
James: And did your wanting to direct, did that come out of that kind of malaise, for want of a better word?
Linda: It was kind of boring in that seventh year, you know? It was like, "Oh boy, are they gonna keep me doing this? This is boring." And I can't handle that boredom. (Laughs)
James: And was it also a way to have more - control is not the right word - but more say?
Linda: It wasn't that. It was a more creative outlet, because I wasn't being allowed to be creative on film. I was just sort of doing my thing, you know, sort of walking through Sue Ellen "uhh-uhh-uhh", but there wasn't any energy ...
James: Of the early - of the early years.
Linda: When you're really in the groove, when they've got the great writing, even if - it doesn't have to be a big role, but you can - you just kinda ...
Linda: ... you get on the train and you're off and running. And then sometimes you're like pushing the train, you know, and that wears you down faster than when you're on that train. Just moving with the energy and moving with the role and, you know, speeding along and creative and all the ..
Linda: And then you're just, like, slowing down. You're like, "Oh there's nothing creative happening." It was boring.
James: But that's interesting. That ties in with that something Ken Kercheval -
Linda: OK, how are we - it's 7 o'clock. OK. We've got half an hour. Do you have half an hour more?
James: Yes, if that's all right for you. I don't wanna -
Linda: No, they told me - Lydia said, "Half an hour for the interview." I thought, "We're never gonna do a half an hour." So I just said nothing. I just said nothing.
James: OK. (To Colin) Are we all right? The tapes are going and everything?
Colin: Yeah. If it stops, I'll keep my eye on it.
James: Great. (To Linda) No, it's - this might not apply directly - specifically to Sue Ellen, but ...
James: ... I think those characters were kind of in a similar situation, because I think they're the characters in the first couple of years that changed the most, that moved the most. Sue Ellen and Cliff, they go on the biggest journey.
Linda: Yes, they go on the biggest journey. Yes.
James: And if that journey had continued naturally, you would have evolved out of the show, I think.
Linda: Mm hm, mm hm.
James: Because you would have said, "I don't need the Ewings. I'll go and do something else!"
Linda: That's right.
James: And so to keep them on the show, they had to sort of pull the reins, to pull them back. And this Ken Kercheval quote, "Cliff was effectively lobotomised" - I'm not saying that about Sue Ellen! (James and Linda laugh) - "but it's how you interpret the character that makes the difference. I'm the one who has to keep him interesting." And I guess that's what you're talking about, having to push - having to keep the train going yourself.
Linda: Mm hm, mm hm. You can't be the victim and say, "Oh poor me. They're not writing for me" or "My role is diminished" or, you know, "They're not giving me what I need to be creative" or whatever. You can't do that. You can, but that doesn't suit me.
Linda: You know? And I can't lead anybody else's life, so I needed something creative - have that impetus for me and keep the creative juices flowing.
Linda: Otherwise you stagnate and never become interesting.
James: And you need fear, the challenge of facing something you don't know ...
Linda: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, and I started studying with Lillian Sherman and -
James: And that was at Women In Film?
Linda: Mm hm.
James: And was that, Women In - maybe I'm reading too much into this - was that a choice, sort of an antidote, to do work with Women In Film, a kind of an antidote to the kind of male DALLAS environment?
Linda: No, it wasn't. You're reading too deeply. (Linda and James laugh) No, it wasn't. It's just because she was highly recommended.
Linda: I got on with her very well. She's just lovely. She's tough, she's French, and no nonsense. And that's what I wanted. I didn't want somebody going, "Oh well, you're on this big, famous series, and we'll just let you direct." You know? I didn't want that. In fact no, I wanted to learn all the nuts and bolts, and do all this stuff. And I did. Fought for that one.
James: And is there a sense, I mean I was thinking about this, because I'm an actor as well ...
Linda: Oh cool!
James: ... and purely as an actor, you don't have as much say.
James: You don't have as much say. And I guess on a show, especially on a show like - a TV show as opposed to a film - and the way DALLAS happened, and I guess to begin with you're just excited to be working, you're grateful to be working and then it becomes a success. That's a very exciting thing. And then this huge phenomenon that happened with DALLAS that I guess no one could have foreseen ...
James: ... that it would become the biggest show in history. (Chuckles)
Linda: No, I didn't know!
James: And then it suddenly becomes much bigger than just the programme itself. There's this huge kind of machine behind it, which you are the public face of, but you have very little say in what happens.
Linda: Yes, true.
James: So that's a kind of - maybe powerless is too strong a word, but getting to direct, and I guess now producing, it's a way of getting some of that say, isn't it?
James: Of getting something - it's an interesting journey, isn't it?
Linda: Yes, it's journey. And it has nothing to do with control.
James: No, that's the wrong word.
Linda: Nothing at all. It just has - you know, it's like anybody else. It's just, you get to go through your life and then you think, "You know what? I've been doing the same thing for a long time. Let's re-evaluate. Let's bring some newness to it. Let's shake it up a little bit or bring some energy into it. That's all it is. It's like, if I were painting that painting, (refers to a picture on the restaurant wall) and if I was finished with it, and then I'd start painting a corner and go, "Oh that's nice," and not keep myself expanding for what else might be out there in the art world. You know? Instead of spending time quote perfecting this, let's just kind of bring some more energy into it, and studying with different people and find out if I could do some other art work that would be more meaningful. And that's what it is. Because our canvas is life, you know? It's up to us to make it look beautiful as possible.
James: Well, I just wanted to ask you about Leonard Katzman, because I sort of get two impressions of him. One is that he was the genius behind DALLAS, that made it what it was, incredibly productive, wrote all those episodes, directed all those episodes, sort of the mastermind behind it. And then this slightly, for want of a better word, slightly chauvinistic aspect, and with bringing Bobby back, strengthening the JR and Bobby double act, which is what he seemed to do ...
James: With that happening, each of the actresses also leaving in turn. So two sort of conflicting images, or impressions, I have of Leonard Katzman. Who was he to you? What's your sort of -?
Linda: Well first of all, DALLAS was a male show. A man's show. And I think people tend to forget that. Because the women were the reactors. We - Sue Ellen reacted to whatever JR did and she responded in her way. But we have to remember that it was conceived by men, written by men, produced by men and the men were the stars of the show. And so you can say all those chauvinist words or whatever, but the reality was it's a male driven show.
Linda: And we were - like on the soap operas, like when I did BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL? That's a woman driven show and the men are in reactive positions.
Linda: So when you look at the big picture, which I try to always do, not successfully all the time, but I try and look at the big picture and say, "OK, DALLAS was a chauvinistic, sexist show. It was male driven."
James: It was about chauvinistic, sexist men.
Linda: So when you look at that, it isn't like, "Oh poor Sue Ellen, poor Pam, poor Miss Ellie." No, it was - the guys drove that show. They were written for, you know? I mean, they were bigger than life. This was a male driven show. BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, woman driven. So when you look at that, it's not - You can't argue that. So as far as Leonard was concerned, he just was doing his job.
James: And with it being a male driven show, did you know that going in, or is that something that dawned on you after?
Linda: That - that kind of - that wasn't at the beginning. (Chuckles) You know, to go back to the same comment, we were all unemployed actors. It was a good gig, a good five show gig. I thought, "Oh this is fun. OK, great. I get to play with these great actors. Perfect." And then we had no idea. We had that long summer off, and then they said, "Oh, we've been picked up. The good news is we've been picked up. The bad news is you have to go back down there and film it." We were shooting in Culver City which was an hour away from my house. It was like, "Oh my God." So you know, it was good news, bad news. But it didn't - we didn't know it immediately, but it was pretty obvious, because Jim Davis was bigger than life, Larry was bigger than life, Patrick was bigger - his head was bigger than life! (All chuckle) You know, so it was pretty obvious in the beginning, but not that much. I mean, the men - it was just a male show, you know?
James: And did you ever - because you were sort of next door neighbours to KNOTS LANDING -
James: That was your sister show. And I guess DALLAS was - it was a male - it was about traditional men preserving their status quo, their position, and there's KNOTS - I guess it's similar to BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, it's about women who evolve from housewives to single women to businesswomen.
James: And did you ever sort of look over the gate and think, "Mmm, that looks fun. Can I cross over?"
Linda: You know what? We were so busy ...
Linda: ... we didn't have time to look over anybody's gate, you know? It was like - you know, we were just all working so hard.
James: Was there a kind of camaraderie with you and the KNOTS cast?
Linda: Oh yes.
James: I've seen pictures of you with the KNOTS ladies ...
Linda: Oh yeah. I mean, we didn't hang out with each other on the sets because we were all busy. I mean, people think that we all had lunch together and dinner together. We were all, "Hi, going to make-up" "Oh OK, have a good day." "OK, bye." That was kind of the extent, but Joan van Ark - I mean, I met Joan van Ark in 1978 when she was on our show.
James: Of course, as Val. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Linda: I've known Joan for, you know, almost thirty years, and that relationship - and then I met Michele and Donna, and I see Donna - I saw her two or three months ago in Los Angeles. So we run into each other and it's hugs and kisses, "How are you? What's going on?" You know. Everything's great. You have great love and respect because you know what they've - you don't have to explain anything.
James: No, you don't have to explain what it's like to be in make-up for two hours.
Linda: Yeah, it's just that you have great respect for what everybody in our industry goes through. They assume we all hang out together, but when you're busy and you're working, you're working. You don't have time to see anybody.
James: And you and Joan - cos we interviewed Joan last year - oh no - or was it earlier this year? - but anyway, it's a similar sort of path, with the theatre.
James: And she did a daytime soap as well.
Linda: That's right, that's right.
James: She did YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS, and she said it was just so quick because there was no rehearsal at all.
Linda: No, none.
James: And she being a perfectionist, she was -
Linda: And the director - I remember my first day on BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL - I thought, "Where's the director?" And you hear this voice from God over a loudspeaker, and that's the director. You don't see the director - I mean, you did, they came - the woman - a lot of women directed - but they came down and talked to us - but they would give direction from up there, and you never left the set. The first day I had thirty-two pages of dialogue. (James gasps and laughs) And my chair was over there. I had, you know, a director's chair to sit in over there. Over there. I never sat in it. And I was just longing to sit in my chair. (James laughs) Longing to get out of that. And they'd run in and put your gloss on you, and you'd do the next scene. And then they'd run over and put lip-gloss on you and you'd do the next - I was like, "You've got to be kidding." I remember drove home that night absolutely catatonic. I didn't listen to the radio, no DVD, nothing. I just drove home going, "What in the hell did I do?" (All laugh) "What have I done? How could I accept this?" I have such respect for those people. Unbelievable. And you don't know it until you do it. That's why I do everything. (Laughs) Gimme stage, soaps, anything. I love it, because you have so much respect.
James: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Linda: You know, and you can't be critical when you've actually done it yourself. You can't go, "Oh well, that's beneath me." Never. Soap opera stars, amazing. I mean, I have huge respect for them. That's because I've done it and it's frightening! (Chuckles) It's a lot of work.
James: And I have to ask you, because I think there's a lot of fascination about Victoria.
Linda: Uh huh.
James: Because she - she doesn't involve herself so much in the reunions, she has other stuff going on, and people - so let me just ask you, what's she like? (Chuckles) What's Victoria like?
Linda: You know what? I haven't seen her in - I saw her, the last time I saw her was at the reunion. You know, we're not - I don't see - I see Larry and Patrick a lot, and you know we just did that wonderful -
James: With Justin Lee Collins?
Linda: With what?
James: With the BRING - oh sorry, you're talking about - no I'm sorry, I interrupted you.
Linda: The South of France. The Mirande Festival. With Steve, Patrick, Larry, Charlene and myself. Larry and Patrick and I see each other all the time. I don't see her. She just has a different group of friends, and she was never close to us. So, you know, I mean, she's very busy. She's very - hugely successful, and I wish her the best. I just don't see her. You know?
James: OK, I asked. I said I'd ask and I asked. (Linda chuckles) So when you left, do you remember your final - do you remember filming your final scene?
Linda: I do. I do, I do. It was traumatic! I remember I was standing in the living room and I had on a blue suit and my hair was very straight. Larry hated it, but that's all right. (All laugh) And I remember it was my last scene ever, in eleven - that I was ever going to do on DALLAS. And it was the weirdest thing. As much as I know this industry, it was still a stunned moment. Not stunning, (chuckles) I was stunned. I was stunned because I finished, they said "Print" and they immediately - everybody gathered up their stuff, and they went into the dining room to shoot the next scene. And I was standing there and I thought, "Oh my God." You know, I didn't want a cake or anything (chuckles), but it was still - you realised that that was it. And I'll never forget standing in the living room doing my final DALLAS scene and I did it, "That's it", and then everybody moved, which is - rightfully so. That's the way it should - they're working! They don't have time to stand around and do all that. And everybody just walked off and I was left standing there. It was the weirdest feeling ever.
James: And you left a year before Barbara Bel Geddes left the show, I think.
James: Yeah, you did. You did. I'm telling you, you did! (All laugh)
Linda: I did!
James: Was that the last time you saw her? When you left the show? Did you see her after that?
Linda: Oh I saw her when she was still - I saw her, yeah. I loved her, oh! I used to - I called her Mama. She was my mother. And I remember calling Mary Martin my mother-in-law because she was, kind of, my mother-in-law. And so I had all these wonderful - and I just adored Barbara. What a talented, talented woman and such a lovely human being, you know? So -
James: Yeah, I think her and Jim Davis, they really grounded it, the show.
Linda: Mm hm.
James: They brought that earthiness, that grit.
James: You could have all the glamour ...
James: ... but they were the soil, weren't they?
Linda: Absolutely. The best. And just divine. I just loved her, and her training and professionalism was fantastic.
James: Then - and it makes perfect sense, why wouldn't you? - but, you know, she distanced herself from Hollywood and show business when she retired. Was that in keeping with the Barbara you knew? Was that characteristic?
Linda: I think so, you know. I mean, she just - that's the way she wanted it. She was a very - she was East Coast bred. That's the way she wanted things and that's the way she got it. And I know she loved our times together, and there was never a doubt of that, and she knew she was loved. We loved her dearly. But then she just chose to live her life the way - finish out her life the way she wanted to. God bless her. So that's it.
James: That's lovely. And just to - I don't wanna keep you for too long.
Linda: No, no! I'm fine. You have a lot of notes!
James: Written in a panic! (Chuckles) "What am I going to say to her??" Erm, what [I]am[/I] I going to say? Oh yes. How was it, having left the show, knowing that it was still going on, that Larry and Patrick were still there? I mean, I'm assuming you didn't watch the show after you left.
Linda: I did.
James: Did you?
Linda: I did.
Linda: But not on - but not as intently.
James: Was that strange, leaving?
Linda: You have to go through decompression. I remember for the first month, I wore no make-up. I put my hair in a pony-tail and a baseball cap. I didn't want any make-up on, I didn't want anyone fiddling with my hair. I just wanted nobody, I didn't want anyone around me touching my face or my hair. And it was nice to sleep in, but sleeping in didn't happen because my body was so used to the morning routine. I'm still a morning person, even though I'm in the theatre. That's kind of scary! (Linda and James chuckle) So I had to readjust. You have to readjust your time clock, your every day - cos I always just used to go, go, working. Doing magazine covers and interviews for European magazines all the time. Not that it stops, but you have to readjust to the fact that you're not working right now. And it was great. You know, I mean, you missed it and you missed the people and you missed the routine and you missed your friends. I mean, the bottom line with DALLAS is that we have a thirty year relationship. When we were in the South of France, we had such fun. We lived together in a chateau.
Colin: All to yourselves?
Linda: Yeah, only us. There was no other person there. Such fun. You know, giggling and laughing and just hanging out together.
James: But was there - cos I think when you leave a - whether it's a job or a relationship or whatever, there's a period of time when you kind of have to - a bit like we were saying, how the audience almost needed to forget it to remember it -
James: Was there a period where you wanted to leave it, in order to be able to then see it in perspective? Do you know what I mean? Sort of move on, and then to be able to turn back and embrace it. Were the times when you were, "I don't really - please don't ask me about DALLAS, not today"?
Linda: Yes, there were times like that, and naturally so.
James: Yeah, yeah.
Linda: You know, it's like somebody asking you about a relationship that you don't have anymore. It's like, "OK just gimme break." And, you know, you try really hard to accommodate everybody, but there's just some personal times when you just go, "I don't wanna talk about it anymore."
James: I mean, there must be. I mean, you know, it is almost twenty years ago. Does it seem strange that people like us are still - I mean, you've moved on with your life (laughs) and we're still there, we're still stuck in 1984!
(James and Colin laugh)
Linda: Oh no, I think it's lovely, I think it's lovely! You're not stuck, you're just - you're just - it's lovely! I mean, I don't know a lot of other shows - I mean, I know there are a lot of shows - but this is still a phenomenon to me, that people are just actually (chuckles) still interested in the show. You know? It's so charming to me. If you saw the fan mail that comes to the theatre. I got fan mail from Greece the other day. All the way from Greece to the theatre wanting an old, not such a good picture of me signed. (James laughs) Yeah, from Greece.
James: Wow. Well, I guess they know how to get hold of you now.
Linda: Yeah, because they know where we are.
James: There's a few people I just wanted to ask you about.
James: Cos we know you love Larry and Patrick and da da da, and I've asked you about Martha Scott - oh no I haven't, I've just mentioned Martha Scott.
Linda: Oh, Martha was great to work with. I loved her. Nice little lady. Yeah, we loved her. Loved Martha.
James: And David Paulsen, because we love -
Linda: Oh yeah, David. David was great.
James: I think his years, the years when he was Story Editor, were the strongest, narrative wise.
Linda: Oh that's interesting, yeah. Oh David was wonderful. In fact when I was doing THE GRADUATE, David came to the theatre.
James: Oh, did he?
Linda: Yeah! I turned around, I was backstage, and David Paulsen walked up. I was like, "Wha - wha - what are you doing here?" (Laughs) It was so funny. Yeah, he was in London with his wife.
James: Oh really? Because he's a bit of a sort of a hero, because we think he's - there seemed to be a great balance between him and Leonard -
James: - and Phil Capice. Whatever their relationships were, when they were together -
Linda: Yes. And Art Lewis.
James: Yes, of course. He was there from the beginning, wasn't he? Right up until the end.
Linda: Loved them all, you know, because they really - the combination. They bounced things off of each other and they'd come up with these great ideas.
James: I think there was one year, and it was just the three of them that wrote the entire season.
Linda: I think so, yeah. I think so. You're right.
James: Yeah, which is the year Bradford May was the Director of Photography ...
James: ... which is a gorgeous looking season.
Linda: The lighting was gorgeous.
James: Yeah, yeah.
Linda: He was wonderful. Yeah, I saw him a couple of years ago, Brad. It was always "the May Way." He'd always say "the May Way." (James and Linda chuckle) You know, his way of doing things. So I'd always say, "Let's do the Gray Way!" (All laugh) He's just lovely.
James: When you had a different DP come on the show, were they - I mean, there's something gorgeous about his filming - the lighting's all natural, there's kind of off-centre close-ups ...
Linda: Yeah yeah, he liked to do that.
James: Did that kind of stuff take longer to do than - or were you not aware of it?
Linda: Well, I think what happens is, you get sort of formulaic. You get into a formula.
Linda: And so they would kind of do whatever they needed to do, and then you just kind of came in there. And then you'd have, like everybody has - I remember with Miss Ellie, she always wanted her neck to be covered - so there would be things that would kind of shadow her neck. And we all had different things that we needed to be done. So I think each DP would say, "OK" - I don't know how they'd say it to their crew, but it would be like, "OK well, when this one's on film, we need to do this with that, or we need to do this -" so the minute we'd get there, they'd know that it was Formula 94/7 Key A or whatever! And they would do it. So it became very formulaic. After you've worked together for so long, you kind of know - obviously you know where your lights are - but you know, you know how it works.
James: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Linda: And they do a lot of things like, they'll watch you before your close up and go, "Miss Gray, just an inch to the right." You know, just sort of direct you, and move a little light ... It's beautiful, the way they do it. I think they get it down to a science.
Linda: It becomes very seamless, the way it goes, because it can't take a long time because we have seven days to give you one hour. And they can't spend like they would spend on a movie. So we don't have that much rehearsal time, we don't have the lighting time, and so it has to be moving quite quickly.
James: Let me ask you about Deborah Shelton, your nemesis.
Linda: Deborah Shelton!
James: Let me just tell you, the Sue Ellen fans -
James: They hate Mandy Winger! They hate her! (Linda and Colin laugh) "She's a slut! She slept with a married man!" But Sue Ellen slept with a married man! "That's [I]different![/I] Sue Ellen was sick!" (All laugh) "That one's a tramp!" So what was Deborah like?
Linda (laughing): Deborah was fine!
James: Deborah wasn't a tramp. Let's make that clear. (Laughs)
Linda: No, she wasn't a tramp. No. The funny thing about it is we all got along, you know? I mean, Lois Chiles ...
James: Lois Chiles was lovely.
Linda: ... and all the mistresses. I knew all the mistresses, of course. And, you know, I would love to walk in on the set when Larry was in bed with one of them and just stand there. (All laugh) That was a great thing. A wife doesn't really have that opportunity! (Laughs) I know they'd love to.
James: That's so great, because you actually did it. There's that amazing scene where you do it with JR and Holly ...
Linda: I do.
James: ... JR and Lois. Because we'd been waiting for you - you'd spent a whole year married to him and being happy, and we were waiting for you to find him in bed with somebody ...
James: ... so you could get back to having some fun.
James: It's great. You're outside the house and - did you go back to - I don't know if you remember, but you're outside Holly Harwood's house, when you pull up outside the - she's set you up and you turn the door and the door's unlocked and you hear the music. Did you go back to Dallas to film that, because that would've been at the end of the season?
Linda: You know, I remember the scene very well. I just can't remember whether we shot it there. I think we shot in Los Angeles. That's what I remember. I remember the scene very well. I think it was Los Angeles.
James: William Smithers, Jeremy Wendell.
Linda: Ah yes.
James: You just had the cruellest line of all time, (all chuckle) when he professed his love - and he was such a shutdown, unfortunate man - when he professed his love to you and you said, "I would rather sleep with JR than sleep with you, and I would rather sleep with a carnival geek than sleep with JR!" (All laugh)
James: What was he like?
James: Because he was so convincingly cold and reptilian.
Linda: Ooh, we didn't like him! No! (All laugh) He was great. They all were great. I mean, that was the thing. We'd get along so fantastically, and then say those dreadful lines. I didn't write the line. I just delivered it. (All chuckle)
James: Fantastic, fantastic. Oh yeah, now there's this rumour I've been asked to ask you about. Another reunion, apparently? Mr Kanaly said to -
Linda: Uh huh?
Colin: Oh yeah.
Linda: Steve knows everything. Steve knows everything. Where is this? What is this?
Colin: This happened in France, when you were in France, about doing another kind of TV movie. Maybe a spoof, maybe something. There was Larry ...
James: If you do it, get the kids back. Cos when they brought back the grown up John Ross - remember? JR RETURNS?
Linda: Oh right. Right, right.
James (laughing): And you took over Ewing Oil? That was great! That was great! It ended with you - that was fabulous - but then they did the next one, which wasn't ...
Linda: Which wasn't so good?
James: No. With the best will in the world, it wasn't. (Laughs) But with you and the kids, it would be great.
Colin: Yeah, that would be really good.
Linda: Mm hm. I'd do that. I would do that, sure. I don't know. I'll have to talk to Steve and say, "What's going on?" See? I leave and look what the boys do, see? Steve and Patrick and Larry, they get altogether and they say (affects macho voice) "Oh yeah, we're gonna do this."
James: Somebody posted one of his paintings - he posted one of his paintings.
Linda: Steve did?
Colin and James: Yeah!
James: It's gorgeous.
Linda: Is it gorgeous?
Colin and James: Yeah.
James: It's really nice.
Linda: I'll have to go see it.
James: Yeah, it's really - it's water-colour ...
James: ... really beautiful.
Colin: Yeah, it's really nice.
Linda: Ooh! Ooh! We had the best time in France.
James: Yeah, I just saw some of it on youtube. Somebody had -
Linda: My God. I mean, we looked at each other. It was like the height of DALLAS. It was like we went back in time to '84. And they were just shouting. We had bodyguards like - all these bodyguards were holding hands - security, not bodyguards - security was holding hands to make a line on two sides so we could walk down this aisle. And they were shouting and screaming our names. It was like, "Where are we? What is this?" It was so weird. Yeah.
James: Did you enjoy doing BRING BACK DALLAS with Justin Lee Collins, when he accosted you on Venice Beach?
Linda: Well, it was the weirdest thing because I'd never met him.
James: Was that a genuine thing? You didn't know it was gonna happen?
Linda: I knew it was going to happen, but I'd never seen him, I'd never met him, I didn't know. The producer person who was lovely, Simon, he said, "All right. Here's what's gonna happen. You're gonna ride your bicycle along and he's gonna come chase you." Well, I'm telling you, I rode and rode and rode and rode (Colin and James laugh) and I thought, "This is a joke. Somebody's playing a joke on me. There's nobody gonna chase me. I'm gonna end up thousands of miles away, just waiting for someone to chase me" and I was riding and riding and riding. I thought, "Something's wrong." And I had no phone. I had nothing. I was just me on a bicycle. (Colin and James laugh) And I thought, "What am I doing? This is the stupidest thing I've ever done!" And finally, just when I started to despair and I'm thinking, "What have I done?" this man came running and I was supposed to be (mimes indignation). I thought I did very well.
James: Yeah, yeah.
Linda: I never saw it. I didn't know. I've never seen it.
James: Oh. It must be on the internet.
Colin: I thought they'd sent a copy actually, because they said they were sending you one out.
Linda: But they didn't, they didn't.
James: Well we should - cos they came on the forum and they did say, and I'm not just saying this, they did say, "Linda Gray was our favourite. We all fell in love with Linda." (To Colin) Didn't they?
Colin: They did, yeah.
Linda: I loved them. I loved them. We had such a good a time. And then when, you know, they did all that and then came back to the hotel and we all sat and chatted, we had a fabulous, fantastic time. We had a wonderful time. But I never saw the show! And I was like, "I wanted to see the show!"
James: Oh it was fun. It's fun.
Linda: So can we talk just a little bit about TERMS OF ENDEARMENT?
James: Yes! Yes we can, let me just tell you one thing ...
Linda: Absolutely. Tell me, tell me, tell me ...
James: ... to link DALLAS to TERMS OF ENDEARMENT.
Linda: ... to link, link.
James: You know DALLAS, you know they had episode titles ...
James: ... and they would make puns on film titles ...
Linda: Uh huh.
James: ... "Whatever Happened to Baby John?" ...
James: ... and "Divorce Ewing Style" ...
Linda: "Ewing Style."
James: There's one called "Terms of Estrangement" ...
James: ... in which Sue Ellen enrols at the Institute for Advanced Awareness and she comes home and JR shoves a drink in her hand and says, "The only institute that works for you is this!" (All laugh)
The tape runs out. When we pick it up, the topic of conversation has moved to the TERMS OF ENDEARMENT tour.
Linda: I left Los Angeles on the 28th July and it is now September 9th. So I've been rehearsing since July 30th, rehearsing and doing all of that, with John Bowe, Suranne Jones and Katie Heath and Rob Firth, all of whom I adore.
James: John Bowe's great. I remember him from PRIME SUSPECT. He was the prime suspect in the first PRIME SUSPECT.
Linda: Yes, yes.
James: Super creepy, super creepy.
Linda: And he's super funny in this one.
James: Yeah, he plays the astronaut, doesn't he?
James: Mr Breedlove. Is it Breedlove?
Linda: Garrett Breedlove.
James: That's it.
Linda: And it's just - everybody is superb. Everybody's just spot on. And Suranne looks like my daughter, and John's perfect, and then Katie, Katie Heath, plays various parts and she's fabulous in all of them, and then Rob plays the doctor and he's incredible. So you know, we just have this wonderful troupe of gypsies running round the countryside in England (chuckles) entertaining people.
James: And is this the longest you've spent over here, in England?
Linda: It will be. It will be. THE GRADUATE I spent probably an equal amount of time, but this is fantastic!
James: And it was in development about five years? About five years since you were approached about it?
Linda: Six, yeah. Six years. And then Dan Gordon took the book and he rewrote, like I told you earlier, and made it magic. And so everybody loves the script and we have David Taylor as our director. He's American, but he lives six months out of the year here. So he's directed Neil Simon plays here, and so he's just a love. And we just got along, you know? It wasn't like nobody - there was a bad apple in the group. There was just a wonderful group of people. And still to this day, knock wood, we're still having a wonderful time.
Linda: I just wanted the fans to know where we'd be, in case we have fans in Cheltenham or Windsor or ...
James: So you've got one more week at York, is that right?
Linda: Yes, we end Saturday night, the 15th of September. Then we go to Darlington one week. Darlington, Cambridge, Nottingham, Richmond, Guildford, Windsor, Cheltenham. Down at the bottom, I'm a little shaky, but I'll get you all the ...
James: Yeah, because (to Colin) you can post it up on the ...
Colin: I'll put it up on the website. Yeah.
Linda: I would love you to do that, if you don't mind.
Colin and James: Yeah, yeah ....
Linda: Because I wouldn't want someone to say, "Oh I wish we'd known." Do you know what I'm saying?
Colin: Oh totally.
Linda: I just thought if the fans knew - you know. I've tried - I just thought they'd like to know that.
Colin: Yeah sure, definitely.
Linda: And then you can come as my guests to Richmond.
Colin: That's lovely. Thank-you.
James: Are you doing matinees in Richmond?
James: Great, cos I start a play and I think it might be on the tenth of October ...
James: ... but I'm not doing matinees, so I can come to a matinee.
Linda (laughing): Come to a matinee!
James: It's a lovely theatre, Richmond.
Linda: I don't know any of them. Everything is a new adventure for me. The theatre in York is very old and beautiful ...
Linda: ... and then I went to - I did an advance pre-publicity in Darlington so that, you know, they could get their publicity going, and it's gorgeous. It's about - almost 900 seats. So it's very big and beautiful, and so it's like an adventure. I've never been to any of them. John has.
James: He'd done a lot of theatre, hasn't he?
Linda: That's true, and he's having so much fun because, you know, he usually plays a bad guy or a tough guy or something.
James: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Linda: And he's just - last night, we had an experience. It was so funny. Every time John and I had a scene, there was applause. After every scene! So we'd go backstage and go, "What's that all about?" (All chuckle) And we'd go out and do some other little pieces and come back and there'd be more applause. We had so much fun! We had such a wonderful time last night! (James chuckles) It was great, great. That was good. So I'm gonna have to leave you now.
Linda: Yes, it's twenty to eight ...
James: Oh, sorry.
Linda: ... we've been talking for, like, a long time.
James: Thank-you so much.
Colin: Yeah, thank-you.
After farewell chit chat and hugs goodbye James and Colin depart.
Special thanks to the generous and charming Linda Gray.
Interviewer and transcriber - James Holmes.
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