While J.R. Ewing has been laid to rest, the late Dallas star Larry Hagman still has a strong presence on set.
“They still have his name on the call sheet as No. 1, and his dressing room is still there with his name on it,” says Dallas guest star Lee Majors, who begins a three-episode arc on Monday. “Every time I walked down to the set I would look up to the heavens and say, ‘Thank you, Larry.’”
Majors, former star of the hit series The Big Valley, The Six Million Dollar Man and The Fall Guy, has his former neighbor Hagman to thank for his latest role on TNT.
“We would see each other on weekends a lot, but we never discussed our work,” Majors says of the 1980s, when he and Hagman lived just a few houses apart on the Malibu coast. “When he got the [reboot] picked up for a second season, he was just like a little kid. He called me and said, ‘You know, they just picked us up for another 15. Can you imagine that?’ I said, ‘Well sure, it’s a good show.’ And he said, ‘You gotta do one.’ I said, ‘I’d love to.’”
But despite a text from Hagman just one month before his November death (“I’m working on it,” the message read), it wasn’t until the actor’s memorial at South Fork that producers approached Majors about a part on the series.
“About a month later I got a call for availability, and of course they made the offer and we accepted,” Majors recalls.
[Warning: minor spoilers ahead]
The part sees Majors as Ken Richards, a former flame of Sue Ellen’s (Linda Gray) from her pre-J.R. days. “She calls on me to help her do a favor business-wise, and of course she does mention that she’s been wanting to call me, but it was always hard to pick up the phone,” Majors reveals. “It’s a little business and a little pleasure, just put it that way.”
Working with Gray was “such a pleasure,” says Majors. “We work alike and think alike when we do scenes, it’s been so easy. It just kind of clicked pretty well, and most of my scenes are with her.”
Major’s character can be seen in three of the upcoming four episodes and the actor teases that he could return for more (though there are no current plans in the works), since his storyline is left open-ended. “At least I wasn’t killed off!” he says with a chuckle.
While Majors admits that he was not a regular viewer of the series, he and his wife sat down for a mini-marathon of sorts, catching up on as much as possible from this and last season. “That kid, Josh Henderson, I can’t keep up with him,” Majors says of Hagman and Gray’s on-screen son. “I think he’s bedding everyone… he’s wearing himself out.”
In addition to appearing on Dallas this week -- Monday at 9 p.m. on TNT -- Majors will also reprise his guest role as Burt’s Dad on Raising Hope this Thursday at 9 p.m. on Fox.
Email: Sophie.Schillaci@THR.com; Twitter: @SophieSchillaci