Gray: Hagman has left Dallas void
Linda Gray has admitted that Larry Hagman's death has left a huge void on the set of Dallas.
For the first time in the TV show's history, the cast and crew have created a new series without its most formidable character - JR Ewing - after Hagman passed away, aged 81, during production of the last run.
Linda, 73, known to millions of fans as JR's long-suffering ex Sue Ellen, said it was daunting even stepping into his old dressing room.
"His presence is everywhere," she explained.
"I looked at the door and I thought, 'Oh boy, this is hard'. I couldn't go in. I just stopped. Then I thought, 'OK, all right, I'm taking over your dressing room', and said, 'It's an honour to be in your dressing room. Let's continue...'
"That's what you do, you go on, and he would be furious if he thought we were sad about his passing. He'd say, 'Come on, get over it. Move on!'."
Over the years, Sue Ellen's battle with the bottle has helped make her one of the US soap's most endearing characters.
Linda discovered the secret to playing her inebriated alter ego in a book by acting coach Uta Hagen.
"I remember she suggested crossing your eyes just a tiny bit so everything was a little out of focus. So you don't just reach for the glass, you slow it down and kind of casually reach for it, so that's what I started doing."
Dallas had audiences hooked from the day it arrived on screens in 1978, thanks to the dirty dealings of oil tycoon JR and the turbulent private lives of the Ewings played out in their Southfork Ranch home. Later it faced stiff competition from the likes of rival US soaps Dynasty and Falcon Crest, and as interest waned, it was eventually cancelled in 1991.
But fans hoped Dallas would resurface one day and, in 2012, the new show was born.
"I think it's the luck of the draw," said Linda of its resurrection. "The timing was appropriate. People that had seen the original show were excited that it was coming back, and people that had never seen it were like, 'Whaaat?'
"[They'd say] 'Our parents used to watch it. We used to sit on the sofa with grandma and my mother'. It was appointment television back then. Nobody had TiVos and VCRs, and people have great stories about the memories they have watching the show, which are very endearing to me. I love hearing those things. There's a wonderful nostalgia attached to it."
:: Dallas returns to Channel 5 on September 3.