‘Dallas’: J.R. Ewing Actor Larry Hagman Didn’t Think Character Was ‘Bad’

by Keeli Parkey

“Dallas” was a wildly popular television show during the 1980s. That success was due, in part, to the work of actor Larry Hagman in his role as J.R Ewing.

Jr. Ewing was definitely perceived as a villain by the audience of the primetime soap opera that premiered in 1978. According to an article on CheatSheet.com, Larry Hagman didn’t believe that his character was a bad guy.

J.R. Ewing was involved with more than his fair share of very questionable business practices – to say the least. That, along with other activities, made him a bad guy in the eyes of the audience. It also made him a bad guy to his fellow characters. Because of that, he took a few bullets along the way.

Despite the hate from some “Dallas” characters and the audience, Larry Hagman believed his character wasn’t all that bad.

Larry Hagman Says ‘J.R. (Ewing) Wasn’t That Bad’

“J.R wasn’t that bad. He was a businessman, which is bad enough right away. But I don’t know. He took care of his family. I wouldn’t call him bad; he was just an oilman,” Hagman once said, according to Mental Floss.

David Jacobs, the creator behind “Dallas,” agreed with Hagman that J.R. Ewing wasn’t such a bad guy.

“Dramatically he was neither hero nor villain but a combination, the villain-as-protagonist,” Jacobs said.

Hagman reportedly based his portrayal of J.R. Ewing on a real-life oilman he was familiar with. Hagman was raised in Texas and he once worked for said oilman in a job that required him to dig for swimming pools. According to the article, the oilman had four sons, and when he died his four sons battled over their father’s business. One son won that battle; he was the inspiration for Hagman’s portrayal of J.R. Ewing.

Probably the most popular storyline in the history of the “Dallas” television show revolved around Hagman’s J.R. Ewing getting shot. Fans were left in limbo for a very long time and had to wonder “Who shot J.R.?” Countless people speculated about the identity of the shooter of the man so many thought was a villain.

The “Dallas” television show ran until 1991. An impressive 33 million viewers tuned in for the finale.

Before he was on “Dallas,” according to the article, Larry Hagman appeared on the sitcom “I Dream of Jeannie.” That show ran from 1965-1970.

Interestingly, Hagman almost appeared on another television show instead of “Dallas.” That show was “The Waverly Wonders,” but the actor decided “Dallas” was the way to go.

Larry Hagman died on Nov. 23, 2012. He will be most remembered for playing J.R. Ewing, the sone of Jock and Miss Ellie.

You can read more about the stars of the “Dallas” television series since the show ended here.