John Schneider and Tom Wopat swept America as the country’s sweethearts. Their roles on Dukes of Hazzard as the Duke boys became immensely popular. But, Schneider and Wopat were replaced in 1982 at the start of Season five by two other actors.
At the time, they were in a contractual dispute with Warner Brothers over the scriptwriting. But, when the show’s ratings fell, the two actors were brought back in with their demands met to finish the Duke of Hazzard.
During a 1983 interview with Junket, Schneider and Wopat sat down to talk about their return. The interview shed light on their situation for millions of Americans who loved the show for the first time. When the interview aired, the two actors had their roles back. But, it was not an easy road for them to get their positions again.
Leta Powell Drake told the two Dukes of Hazzard actors her feelings about their hiatus.
“You know, I had the feeling that when you guys left, I thought, ‘Okay, these guys think they’ve got it all together. I mean, they are the show, and so the show is going to fold without them.'” But, she also adds, “And I thought. ‘these guys are wrong.'”
The Duke Boys Were Replaced on “Dukes of Hazzard” With Two Look-a-Like Actors
She continued, “But look, in a short period of time, they get two guys who look just like you. Why do you think they did that?”
Both John Schneider and Tom Wopat sat listening to the host comment about their walk-out, nodding their heads. When she finished talking, both actors laughed.
Evidently, this struck a chord with both Dukes of Hazzard actors. Schneider took it upon himself to respond to her thoughts.
“Well, one of the main reasons I think [they did that is] so that the people on the screen would match the dolls and the toys that they already had out so they wouldn’t have to change those drastically. I think another reason that they did it was so that perhaps we’d get scared.”
As the host says, they “bucked the system and won.” Not many actors hold enough power over the show to be able to pull something like this off. But Schneider and Wopat were able to pull it off.
The Dukes of Hazzard would end up running for two more seasons. More importantly, though, Schneider and Wopat were at the helm of the show once more. Additionally, the show’s excellent ratings returned to where they had been before the actors were replaced.