Larry Hagman and Patrick Duffy
When Josh Henderson landed the role of J.R. Ewing's son on TNT's reboot of Dallas, his TV dad Larry Hagman had one piece of advice: Have fun.
"I was a little nervous and he said, 'Hey, they cast you for a reason. Have fun,'" Henderson told TVGuide.com at Sunday's Paleyfest panel, moderated by TV Guide Magazine's William Keck. "He had fun every day. People had fun around him and, you know what, the audience had fun watching him do what he did."
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The cast and producers paid homage to Hagman and his on-screen alter-ego a day before the show laid the evil Ewing brother to rest in Monday's episode, which featured both a touching funeral and an explosive wake and touching funeral. But just because J.R. is officially six feet under he'll never be gone from the show for good. "The writers are brilliant at putting these scripts together, and I think they will fill the void left by J.R," Patrick Duffy said. "The character of J.R. is still going to be an influence of this show. We're not going to have Larry playing that part and another actor isn't going to play that part, but all the things that J.R. could have done that will come back year after year to create a problem for the Ewing family — that's just like having Larry on the set."
And J.R. will still continue to play a huge part of the season now that the search for his killer is just getting started. After it was revealed that J.R. was shot to death in a seedy Mexican hotel, fans learned in the final moments of the episode that his death was not part of a random robbery, as authorities had suggested. Instead his death was part of J.R.'s bigger quest to help Bobby take down Ann's ex Ryland and also to find Christopher's mom, the original Pamela Barnes, for reasons that remain unknown. Bobby might be the most in the know for now, but John Ross will also be a big part of the hunt as he struggles to accept his father's sudden death.
"It affects everything about him. He goes from really trying to bring all this stuff together and be at the top of Ewing Energies to having his world crash on top of him," Henderson said. "He's good at putting on a front just ike he's good at backstabbing or manipulating, but he wasn't ready to do this on his own. He feels like his dad left him too quick. So, he goes through the gamut of emotions: pain, resentment, fear, anger. He's a loose cannon."
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Surprisingly enough, it will be John Ross' cousin and rival Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) that will at least try to help keep him out of trouble. "Christopher really steps up as sort of a support system and the caretaker in the family. He sees that John Ross is being hit really hard by the loss of his father," Metcalfe said. "As he grieves , he becomes very angry and erratic, and Christopher is there to make sure he doesn't do something that he might regret down the line or something that might jeopardize Ewing Energies."
Just as John Ross and Christopher are coming together, Uncle Bobby will be struggling to move forward without his enemy, and more importantly, brother, by his side. "Bobby now has lost his anchor," Duffy said. "The character of Bobby defined himself by the virtue of not being J.R. When J.R. was there, Bobby had a purpose: It was to counteract those things for the Ewing family. And now without that purpose there, Bobby has got to redefine himself. I don't know how he's going to do that, but just in the three or four episodes we've done since then, the writers are tackling it in a really, really respectful and good way."
Dallas airs Mondays at 9/8c on TNT. What do you think of J.R.'s goodbye? Who do you think shot J.R.?