Generally, the only thing fans get to see of a television show is the finished product. If the show is made well, we often never consider what went into creating the seamless narrative. Instead, we sit back and enjoy the entertainment provided to us by characters like the Duke boys on shows like “The Dukes of Hazzard.”
Underneath the façade, however, sits a tangled mess. Among the difficulties are tight budgets, time constraints, and the exhaustion of long hours spent trying to capture a five-second shot. Few know this better than John Schneider, who played Bo Duke on “The Dukes of Hazzard” from 1979-1985.
In a virtual interview he did with Craig Bennett of Studio 10, Schneider talked about some of the challenges the cast and crew faced when they worked on the fan-favorite show.
“‘Dukes’ looks like so much fun in that we just captured it. Well, that wasn’t really true. I mean it was a lot of fun. But we had one camera, big, very hot lights. We worked never less than 12 hours a day, never less than five days a week, and never less than 10 months a year. I don’t want to say it was like working in the opal mines in Broken Hill, but still, it wasn’t just like ‘Yee! Let’s drive cars around and hope they film it.’ No, it was a job,” Schneider said.
So it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows working on “The Dukes of Hazzard,” even for heartthrob John Schneider.
Difficulties on Show Led to ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’ Stars Walking Out
John Schneider and Tom Wopat, who played Bo and Luke Duke, weren’t afraid of a little hard work. And as we now know, playing a major role in “The Dukes of Hazzard” was far from easy. So when it came down to it, the two stars felt like they deserved more of a say in the show’s writing and a bigger cut of the profits.
Before work on Season 5 began, the pair made their voices heard. And a contract dispute with CBS and Warner Brothers resulted in Schneider and Wopat simply walking out on the show. For how difficult their job was and how well the show was performing, they felt that their gripes were justified.
Replacement actors were brought in to play Coy and Vance Duke. The dispute resolved after 19 episodes of the original Dukes’ absence. And much to the audience’s approval, Schneider and Wopat returned to the show.