Single, sober and fabulous
ON the surface she hasn’t changed a bit, but Linda Gray is adamant her reprisal of JR Ewing’s long- suffering alcoholic wife Sue Ellen in the 2012 reboot of Dallas is about as far from the original as you could get.
‘‘ My God, she had to be,’’ laughs Gray, now 71. ‘‘ If she hadn’t changed she would be long gone.’’
Gray’s 2012 version of Sue Ellen is a big shot politician and power broker. She’s ditched JR ( Larry Hagman), and the booze. She’s powerful and fabulous.
‘‘ She’s sober,’’ Gray says. ‘‘ She probably went to AA sometime in the past 20 years and got her stuff together.’’
Dallas, currently playing out on our screens on WIN, is a bold remake of the show that for 14 seasons was the biggest drama on television.
Redoing it with a new generation of Ewings grown up and struggling for control of the family oil empire was risky, and not a move Gray, the original JR ( Larry Hagman), and the original Bobby Ewing ( Patrick Duffy) took lightly.
But with the 10- episode reprisal now finished airing in the US, and a second season of 15 episodes planned, Gray ( pictured) is confident the trio did the right thing.
‘‘ The writers have done an amazing job, they’ve blended the old and new,’’ she says.
Gray and Hagman remained close, along with Duffy, during Dallas ’ 20- year absence from screens, and quickly found their feet working together again.
Although Hagman’s JR, now in a luxury nursing home, has had trouble getting used to the new Sue Ellen – much to Gray’s glee.
‘‘ Without the haze of alcohol, there’s this clarity for Sue Ellen,’’ Gray says.
‘‘ She knows all the tricks of the trade because she was married to JR. She knows where the bodies are buried, and she knows all the players in Texas and she’s got most of JR’s money.
‘‘ She and JR still have this hugely dysfunctional love- hate relationship, but for the first time in many, many years, she’s fascinating to him. And she has things to do, she can’t be bothered with him.’’
For Gray, the deliciousness of a wiser Sue Ellen comes second only to working with ‘‘ a bright new cast’’ and the originals – Hagman and Duffy.
‘‘ It’s like a checklist of old times,’’ she says. ‘‘ The only diva on set in the original was Larry. And he’s still like that.’’