‘Dallas’ Star Larry Hagman Talked Making Up Dialogue on Show

by Joe Rutland

When talking about his time playing Texas oilman J.R. Ewing on Dallas, actor Larry Hagman had a little interesting dialogue note.

Namely, that some of it was made-up sentences on the set.

Hagman, who died in 2012 from leukemia, spent time talking about this and other points from the CBS primetime drama, Dallas.

He did so as part of the Pioneers of Television series of interviews.

“Bobby and Pam (Patrick Duffy and Victoria Principal) would be in the foreground and Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) and I would be in the background,” Hagman says. “They didn’t give us any dialogue so we made up our own stuff like that.

“‘Sue Ellen, what the hell’s going on here? There’s a button missing from my shirt. Now what kind of wife are you?'” he says while making up dialogue in the interview about Dallas. “‘Aw J.R. I’m so sorry,’ and we just BS’ed behind it, never thinking that anybody was ever going to watch it.”

Oh, they watched it in Texas, the United States, and around the world

If you want to check out the interview with Larry Hagman for the Pioneers of Television series of interviews, then here you go, Outsiders.

Classic TV fans also know Hagman from playing Major Tony Nelson on NBC’s sitcom I Dream of Jeannie opposite Barbara Eden.

Still, this juicy role allowed him to take Dallas to another stratosphere.

It was one show which actually worked the end-of-season cliffhanger very well. Some will remember the “Who shot J.R.?” mystery involving Ewing and a gunshot.

People all over the world tried to guess who did shoot him. It was Kristin Shepard, played by Mary Crosby, who was J.R.’s mistress and sister-in-law.

‘Dallas’ Star Talks About How J.R. Became Villain on Primetime Drama

There have been a lot of really nasty villains in the world of television.

But, Outsiders, we don’t think there will ever be one to match up with Dallas bad-guy J.R.

How did Hagman’s character become a villainous heel in the drama?

He says that “the first script I read, everybody was a scoundrel” in an episode of Pioneers of Television. “Even Mama (Barbara Bel Geddes), in her own way, was a scoundrel.

“Over the period of five or six shows that we did, the pilot, the miniseries, it kind of narrowed down to me,” Hagman says, “which was fun because good guys, you know, that’s the hard work.”

Then he talks about Bobby who “has the hard work.”

“He’s such a nice guy, and the bad guys get the ladies and the money and all that kind of stuff,” Hagman says. “I had more fun with that, and I still am having more fun with that part.”