‘Dallas’: Lone Star State Had a McConaughey as Governor, But it Wasn’t Matthew

by Suzanne Halliburton

In this case, life didn’t really imitate art. The rebooted Dallas featured a McConaughey as governor. But his name was Sam, not Matthew.

If you’re a fan of Matthew McConaughey, you know he flirted with the idea of running for governor of the great state of Texas. Polls had him up on incumbent Greg Abbott and McConaughey consulted some folks well connected to Lone Star politics. But in November, McConaughey announced he wasn’t running in 2022. Who knows, maybe he’ll dabble in politics, again, someday. McConaughey has yet to even reveal where he lands on the political spectrum.

So let’s toss it back to the Dallas reboot. TNT broadcast it from 2012-14, canceling the series after Larry Hagman died. Dallas just wasn’t the same without JR Ewing. (Drink some bourbon and branch to honor his memory).

In seasons two and three, Dallas featured Gov. Sam McConaughey. Steven Weber, who now stars on Chicago Med, played the governor. But there was a tweak in the plotline. When the show first dominated the airwaves, JR usually had the politicians in his back pocket. But this governor wanted to take down the Ewings. Weber appeared in five episodes. You can’t say politics without a scandal. This McConaughey was doing the dirty work for Cliff Barnes (of course, it’s Dallas) and top donor Harris Ryland, the former husband of Bobby’s wife.

Amy Sussman/Getty Images

So we’ve got a question. Did the writers a decade ago name the governor after Matthew McConaughey? We’re not sure, but it’s at least a cool coincidence. At about the same time as the reboot, McConaughey was in Dallas Buyer’s Club. He won the Academy Award in 2014.

Meanwhile, Weber wasn’t the only well-known classic TV actor in the cast. Weber was just beginning his career during part of the Dallas original run. He might be still best known as Brian Michael Hatchett on Wings.

Lee Majors, the Six Million Dollar Man, appeared in three episodes in season two as Ken Richards. He was one of Sue Ellen’s former love interests. He also worked for the state of Texas and was investigating Sue Ellen’s nephew Christopher.

And Judith Light also played a recurring character named Judith Brown-Ryland, Harris’ mother. Fans know her as Angela Bowser from the 1980s classic Who’s the Boss. Her son on Dallas was played by Mitch Pileggi, otherwise known as the boss of Mulder and Scully on The X Files. It was an odd casting choice on the part of Dallas. In real life, Light is only three years older than Pileggi.

Brenda Strong portrayed Bobby’s wife Ann. You might not recognize her face, but you know her voice. She was the dead wife who narrated Desperate Housewives.

All these characters added to the fun of the reboot. Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray starred in the Dallas revival. And characters from the original passed through Southfork, including Gary and Lucy Ewing and Ray Krebs.

And who knows, maybe life will imitate art if McConaughey decides to run for governor.