On TNT’s hit Dallas–a continuation of the original series, set 21 years later–Jesse Metcalfe plays Bobby Ewing’s adopted son Christopher, alongside such original Dallas stars as Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray. I just caught up with Jesse to find out what’s cooking in Texas, TV-style.
Hi, Jesse. What are your character Christopher’s issues this season?
He’s evolved a lot. The first season was about him coming back and trying to assert his place in the Ewing family hierarchy. Now he’s got the girl and he knows who he is.
Would you call this a prime-time soap opera?
I’ve been in a lot of soaps in my career. It’s nice to be on a hit show. It’s an interesting genre. Our show keeps it grounded very well. There are the things people tune in for–the steamy love scenes and such–but it’s well written and well done. I don’t think you can ever avoid being sensational and somewhat superficial within the genre, but we’ve steered clear of pitfalls and produced a quality show.
You were on the daytime soap Passions, by the way. I loved Passions!
That show was insane. That was probably one of the zaniest, craziest soaps ever made. There were certainly days on that show that presented serious challenges from an acting standpoint, but it gave me my start. I learned on the job.
And Desperate Housewives?
It was a lot of fun. Being on a television phenomenon like that opens a lot of doors. I don’t think anyone anticipated that that storyline would be as popular as it was. I was on that show for four seasons after the first one, but I was a supporting player, a small part of the show. It’s good to feel like a big part of a series and I relish that responsibility. On Dallas, Josh Henderson and I alternate top billing, so when I’m watching and my name is the first to appear, I feel a great sense of pride and also responsibility.
Did you ever go through a personal crisis in real life, where you weren’t feeling as solid?
This business is full of ups and downs. I feel very good about where I’m at. I’m not one who lives in the past.
How will the sendoff of J.R. Ewing be handled?
They will start to unravel the mystery of how J.R. died and in episode 8 we have a memorial where a lot of the original cast members come back and pay their respects.
Everyone you can think of.
Everyone who’s ever been on Dallas?
Pretty much. [Laughs.]
Are they maybe saying goodbye to Hagman as well as to J.R.?
A bit. It’s a bit of a tightrope I felt like the writers were having to walk in that respect. They wanted to honor both Larry Hagman and the character J.R. at the same time. They infused a lot of scenes with a lot of heart and love and also a lot of drama. Some come to spit on J.R.’s grave, so to speak.
Well, Larry was much nicer than J.R., right? [Laughs.]
Larry Hagman was an incredible man. Very warm, supportive, and funny, and he never took a day on the set for granted.
Thanks, Jesse. I’ll be watching.