Lee Majors is coming to “Dallas”! Majors, the iconic star of “The Six Million Dollar Man” and “The Fall Guy,” will begin a multi-episode guest stint on the TNT drama on Monday, March 25. (DVR alert: Majors will also appear on Fox’s “Raising Hope” later that week.) I was honored to speak to him recently about what it’s like to tangle with the Ewings.
Let me begin by telling you I that had two childhood obsessions growing up: The first was “Dallas,” but the second was “The Six Million Dollar Man.”
Oh, you put me in second place?
Well, actually, you came first because your show came first. So I spent a lot of my childhood running around the backyard in slow motion making the bionic sound effect.
As long as you didn’t jump off a barn or something and break anything.
No, never tried that.
I’ve heard that story before.
Oh, I’m sure you have. So tell me: How did you get the role on the new show?
I think Larry [Hagman] did it.
No kidding. How did that happen?
Well, Larry and I were friends for many, many years. We lived a couple of doors down from each other in Malibu. We used to see each other all the time on the weekends when we were both trying to recover from our week of work. And when TNT picked up “Dallas” for a second season, I was surprised because he gave me a call and said, “Lee, guess what? They picked us up and for 15 [episodes]!” He was like a little kid. He said, “You’ve got to do one.”
So I said, well, if it happens, it happens. I didn’t hear from him for awhile because we weren’t neighbors anymore, but he did text me about a month before he passed away and said, “I’m working on it.”
Wait, J.R. Ewing sent Steve Austin a text?
Yeah. All it said was, “I’m working on it.” I assumed he meant the show. So while I was at Larry’s memorial, I ran into Michael Robin, the exec producer, and he said, “Yeah, Larry mentioned you.” And I said, “That was sweet of him.” And that was about it, and then a month later, my agent got a call about availability. So I kind of point to the sky and say, “Thank you, Larry. Thank you, J.R.”
What kind of neighbor was Larry Hagman?
Larry was out there. All fun and games. You never knew what he was going to do next. He didn’t talk on Sundays because he once did a play and lost his voice. The doctor said, “Well, just don’t talk on Sunday.” So he did that, but he kept it up for years. He’d have a party at his place on the beach, but he wouldn’t talk. He would serve you champagne with a wink or write things down on a chalkboard or something. [Laughs] But he was just a great guy. Everybody loved Larry.
And you mentioned his memorial service. You went to the one at Southfork, right?
Yeah. That was the first time I’d been out there. I didn’t get to see much of the ranch, but it was wonderful. It was just happy. It was the way he wanted it. They had big screens up with all of his past endeavors. It was just all very cool.
Well, what can you tell us about your character on “Dallas”?
I can tell you a little. His name is Ken Richards and he had a past relationship with Sue Ellen. We were probably lovers or had an affection for each other. And then she calls me out of the blue for a meeting, and she needs a little help in a manner that I can’t discuss. [Laughs]
This sounds like so much fun. All I’ll say is you better be nice to Sue Ellen.
I’m very nice.
If I want to survive I have to be. [Laughs]
Well, on this show, being bad is sometimes the way to get ahead.
Yeah, I know. I tuned into some back shows. I’ve been trying to keep up with who’s doing who and what for. That Josh [Henderson], he’s in and out of the bed every minute. And I was shocked when Brenda Strong’s character shot Harris. [Laughs] I saw her on the set yesterday and I said, “Are you still in jail? What’s happening?” And she says, “I don’t know! I’m trying to get bail.” I said, “You can’t get bail. You’ve been convicted already!”
The show seems very top-secret.
Well, they leave every show with a cliffhanger, so if you talk about the next episode, you get in trouble. They’re very tight-lipped. They gave a script to me and it’s got my name blazed across every page so that if they see one somewhere, they’ll know where it came from. You’re supposed to shred them.
Have you gotten to know the other cast members?
Some of the younger ones I haven’t worked with. I did do a scene with Jesse [Metcalfe] yesterday. There was a little scuffle is all I can say. [Laughs] I’ve known Patrick [Duffy] for a long time. Of course, Linda [Gray] and I hadn’t met, but when we did our first scene there was a chemistry there, which was good. And she was very happy with it and they seem to be very happy with me and the character so we’ll see what happens.
You know you’re not the first bionic secret agent to have a fling with Linda Gray.
I hope the first wasn’t Lindsay Wagner! [Laughs]
[Laughs] I was referring to Monte Markham, who was Sue Ellen’s college sweetheart and a bionic bad guy on your show.
I remember that, yeah.
And Martha Scott played your mom on “The Six Million Dollar Man” and Sue Ellen’s mom on “Dallas.”
You’re decoding everything here.
Sorry, I can’t help myself.
Do you know, though, that Lindsay Wagner is Linda Gray’s niece?
Yeah. My agent, who represented Lindsay for awhile, told me that when I went to do the first episode. And actually, she brought it up too. So there’s a tidbit that’s unique.
It’s very “Dallas”! Everyone is related to everyone else. Speaking of which: Were you a fan of the original show?
Yeah, but it was on during the ’80s when I was busy doing “The Fall Guy.” And of course, I’d see Larry on the weekends but we never talked business. We never talked about our shows. We just wanted to forget it for the weekend. When you’re working all that week, I never got to watch his show and he probably never watched mine.
It would’ve been great if you two could’ve done “Dallas” together. Do you feel his presence on the set?
Yeah. They still have his trailer with his name on the door and his name is still on the call sheet every day. You can certainly feel it. And I do because I thank him every day for the job.
So I’ve got to ask: Would you want to see “The Six Million Dollar Man” come back with the original cast, the way “Dallas” has?
No. [Laughs] Unless I could play Oscar Goldman.
You don’t want to be Steve again?
No. I would like to sit in an office and point my finger and talk on the phone: “Now, Steve, I want you to go here….”
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