#DallasChat Daily: Did Sue Ellen Love Any of Her Suitors?

Christopher Atkins, Cliff Barnes, Dusty Farlow, Jack Scalia, Jared Martin, Ken Kercheval, Linda Gray, Nicolas Pearce, Peter Richards, Sue Ellen Ewing

J.R. was the love of Sue Ellen’s life, but how much did she care for the men with whom she cheated during their marriage?

Among her flings: J.R.’s arch rival, Cliff Barnes; little John Ross’s camp counselor, Peter Richards; investment banker Nicolas Pearce; and of course, everyone’s favorite rodeo cowboy, Dusty Farlow.

Your #DallasChat Daily question: Did Sue Ellen love any of the men she had affairs with?

Share your comments below and join other #DallasChat Daily discussions.

Dallas Parallels: She Bangs

Ann Ewing, Brenda Strong, Dallas, Fat Lady Singeth, Linda Gray, Sins of the Father, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

Talk about a shocking twist! In “Sins of the Father,” one of the new “Dallas’s” second-season episodes, Ann discovers her ex-husband Harris kidnapped their daughter Emma when she was a child and raised her on his own. Ann goes to Harris’s home to confront him, and before you know it, she has shot the schmuck and left him for dead.

The scene brings to mind the original “Dallas’s” 11th season finale, “The Fat Lady Singeth,” which opens after J.R. has taken John Ross and stashed him at a private school so Sue Ellen can’t find him. In that episode’s final scene, Sue Ellen goes to J.R.’s hotel room and demands to know the boy’s location. The couple begins to argue, and before all is said and done, Sue Ellen has shot J.R.

Besides the gunfire, the two scenes share a few other similarities. When Ann goes to see Harris, she finds him seated in his den, reading papers. When Sue Ellen shows up at J.R.’s hotel room, he’s sitting on a sofa, reading the newspaper. In both sequences, the man gets up and crosses the room to the bar with the woman in tow. The two scenes also demonstrate Harris and J.R.’s cruelty. Harris taunts Ann, reciting the precious moments from Emma’s childhood that Ann missed. “I took that away from you,” he says. J.R. isn’t quite that vicious, but he boasts about how he outsmarted Sue Ellen when she was searching for the missing John Ross. “I was one step ahead of you,” J.R. says.

The scenes contain major differences too. Sue Ellen’s lover Nick accompanies her to J.R.’s, while Ann is alone when she goes to Harris’s. Sue Ellen shoots J.R. three times — using his gun — after Nick plunges to his death while scuffling with J.R. on the balcony. Ann, on the other hand, brings her own gun to Harris’s and fires once. The biggest difference: After Ann shoots Harris, she turns, leaves and goes home to Southfork, where she allows Bobby to confess to the shooting to protect her. In contrast, when Sue Ellen shoots J.R., she immediately dials the police to report the crime.

Ultimately, Harris and J.R. both survive their shootings, and Ann and Sue Ellen both get away with their crimes. Ann goes on trial and is sent to prison, but she gets off on parole. J.R. declines to press charges against Sue Ellen to spare John Ross from the spectacle of a trial. Will we see either woman pick up a gun again? It’s hard to say with Sue Ellen, but not Ann. After all, she recently received a dove-hunting gun — bequeathed to her by J.R. in his will.

 

‘I Was One Step Ahead of You’

Dallas, Fat Lady Singeth, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

Mean

In “The Fat Lady Singeth,” J.R. (Larry Hagman) is seated in his hotel room, reading the newspaper, when Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) knocks on the door.

J.R.: Who is it?

SUE ELLEN: J.R., it’s me.

J.R.: Go away, Sue Ellen. I got nothing to talk to you about. [Tosses aside the paper, rises and walks toward the door]

SUE ELLEN: Let me in!

J.R.: I knew it was your man asking around about John Ross. But I was one step ahead of you, wasn’t it?

Nick (Jack Scalia) kicks open the door and enters the room, followed by Sue Ellen.

SUE ELLEN: Where is my son, you bastard?

J.R.: Where you’ll never find him.

NICK: That’s not good enough. Where is he?

J.R.: None of your damn business, Pearce.

NICK: I’m making it my business. [As they approach J.R., he steps backward to the bar.] Now do you tell me, or do I start taking you apart? [J.R. reaches for the phone. Nick smacks it out of his hand.] You’re one sorry excuse for a man.

J.R.: Get out of here.

NICK: Not without some answers. And believe me, I will truly enjoy kicking the crap out of you.

SUE ELLEN: Where is he, J.R.?

J.R.: [Pulls a handgun from behind the bar] You’re trespassing. If I have to use this, the law will be on my side, so get the hell out here.

NICK: You don’t have the guts to use it.

J.R.: Call off your gigolo, honey.

Nick lunges for J.R. and they scuffle, leaving the handgun on the floor. As Sue Ellen screams, they wind up on the balcony, where Nick plunges over the side of the railing. Sue Ellen picks up the handgun, aims at J.R. and shoots three times. She walks to the phone and dials.

SUE ELLEN: I’d like to report a double murder. This is Sue Ellen Ewing.

 

‘I Took That Away From You’

Dallas, Harris Ryland, Mitch Pileggi, Sins of the Father, TNT

Meaner

In “Sins of the Father,” Ann (Brenda Strong) enters the Ryland home, where Harris (Mitch Pileggi) is seated in the living room, reading papers.

HARRIS: [Tosses the papers on the coffee table] Emma’s a pretty amazing girl, isn’t she? She holds a hell of a grudge, though. Me and Mama raised her right.

ANN: Why? Why did you take her from me?

HARRIS: [Slaps his knee, rises] You know, last time we talked, you were wearing a wire. So if we’re going to continue this conversation, I’m going to have to — [Ann sighs and spreads her arms as Harris feels her body] Now, if I remember correctly — [She unbuttons her blouse and shows him her chest. He smiles.]

ANN: Why’d you take her?

HARRIS: I just did what you didn’t have the guts to follow through on. [Steps away, grabs his glass off the table, walks to the bar]

ANN: That’s a lie. It destroyed me! Did you hate me that much?

HARRIS: Oh, Annie. It all worked out for the best. Besides, she’s a grown woman. There’s nothing you can do about it anyway. [Pours himself a drink]

ANN: Just tell the truth for once in your miserable life. Why?

HARRIS: You really have to ask?

ANN: I want to hear you say it.

HARRIS: Because you were about to leave me. And after all I did for you, turning a gangly, raw-bone girl into a proper woman.

ANN: Broken puppet.

HARRIS: There was no way you were going to make a fool out of me by leaving. You had to pay a price. And the look on your face right now? It’s priceless.

ANN: Go on.

HARRIS: [Smiles] Oh, you still like the pain, don’t you? How’s it going to help to hear about what you lost? Is it going to get you back any of Emma’s first steps? Or her dance recitals? Or any of those birthdays? Is it going to get you even one of those nights, snuggled up to her, telling her bedtime stories while she fell asleep? No. Because I took that away from you. Forever. See? Hearing that didn’t help at all, now did it?

ANN: Oh, it helped a lot. [Pulls a gun from her purse, shoots him, walks away]

What do you think of Sue Ellen and Ann’s gunplay? Share your comments below and read more “Dallas Parallels.”

‘Dallas’ Adds Juan Pablo Di Pace as a Series Regular

Dallas, Juan Pablo Di Pace, Nicolas Trevnio, TNT

Nick of time!

Juan Pablo Di Pace will join “Dallas” next season as mystery man Nicolas Trevino. The Wrap and Deadline reported the news tonight, describing the Argentian actor as a new series regular.

Not much is known about the Trevino character. In earlier reports, he was described thusly: “a powerful billionaire businessman. Self-made. Rough childhood. Raised himself up by his bootstrap. He’s charming, sophisticated, smart, cunning.” Di Pace is the show’s latest newcomer: On October 9, TNT announced AnnaLynne McCord will guest star on “Dallas” next season as Heather, Christopher’s new love interest.

(Here’s hoping Trevino fares better than “Dallas’s” previous “Nicks:” George Chakiris played Nicholas, who was killed with a poisoned hat pin during the original show’s ninth season, while Jack Scalia’s Nicholas Pearce died after taking a nasty spill off a balcony at the end of Season 11.)

Production on “Dallas’s” third season began this month. TNT hasn’t released a premiere date, although the cable channel announced earlier today it would introduce its new reality show “The Private Lives of Nashville Wives” on Monday, February 24.

What do you think of Juan Pablo Di Pace’s addition to “Dallas”? Share your comments below and read more news from Dallas Decoder.

The Dallas Decoder Interview: Linda Gray

Dallas, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing

Linda Gray

Sue Ellen WeekI interviewed Linda Gray! It was an amazing experience — Gray was fun, insightful and extremely generous with her time. I’m so excited to share our conversation as part of Dallas Decoder’s Sue Ellen Week.

I’d like to begin with something that I’ve waited my whole life to say to you, which is this: “Hello, darlin’.”

[Laughs] I love that. Yes, I’ve heard that a couple of times before.

Well, when I was a kid, I wanted to grow up to be J.R., so to be able to say that to you now is a dream come true.

Oh, that’s so sweet. Thank you so very much.

OK, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, you’re about to do something you’ve never done before, which is to start production on a new season of “Dallas” without Larry Hagman. How are you feeling about that?

It’s tricky because I know he’s not on the planet, but on the set, he’s very much there. He’s kind of like this big presence, looming over us and smiling. And I think what the writers may do — and underline “may” — is have something where J.R. Ewing made some oil deal 20 years ago that will come back and have reverberations on the characters today. So I think Larry will always be there — and he doesn’t even have to get into makeup.

So you’re not starting the season with a heavy heart?

No, not at all. Everybody is light about it because Larry was light about it. He always said he wasn’t afraid to die. And I think every single person who’s honest will say, “I’d like to go doing what I love to do.” Larry certainly achieved that. He passed playing the character he was meant to play. It was a life well lived. He charmed so many people and touched so many lives. He’s missed, but we just continue his memory.

Dallas, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

What’s next?

And what about Sue Ellen? Any idea what she’s going to be up to next year?

I always smile when I get that question. People stop me on the street and say, “Please don’t drink anymore” or please don’t do this or please don’t do that. Honestly, until about a week before we start filming, we don’t know what’s going on.

The producers don’t sit down with you and explain Sue Ellen’s arc for the season?

No. But I prefer not knowing because sometimes, you could give something away without realizing it. Like when Sue Ellen started drinking again, I didn’t know that was coming up until days before we shot it.

I’m so glad you brought that up. The scene in “J.R.s Masterpiece” where she takes her first drink in 20 years is beautifully done.

When I opened the script for that episode and I saw, “She picks up that drink,” I thought, “Oh, no!” [Laughs] So I was just as surprised as anybody. But I spoke to some people who are in the program, and they said that if anything would make her take a drink, it would be J.R.’s death. So I said, “OK. Deep breath. Here we go.”

Was that scene hard to film?

I think we shot it at 10:30 at night or something. And the drinking scene wasn’t even planned for that day — another scene was, but it was a long scene and there was dialogue. And so the director, Mike Robin, who’s one of our executive producers, gave me a choice between shooting the scene with dialogue and the drinking scene. And I said, “It’s late, the crew’s tired, I’m tired. Everyone wants to go home. Let’s just do the drinking scene.” So it was kind of spur of the moment.

And I think I’ve heard you say you did it in only two takes.

Well, I asked Mike how long we had film-wise, and he said, “You’ve got 12 minutes.” And I said, “I’m not drinking for 12 minutes!” [Laughs] It may have been two takes. It felt like one.

I’ve got to tell you: Every time I watch it, I get a little emotional. How do you feel when you see it?

Cynthia Cidre, who’s our executive producer/writer, sent me the cut of the episode. And I was out, so I watched it on my phone. And I just started crying, crying, crying. So when I got home, I played it on my computer, and I just started crying again. I still tear up every time I see it because … I don’t know, it just goes to my heart. It’s hard for me to watch it.

Getting back to Season 3: I know you have a lot of respect for the writers, but do you have your own wish list for what you’d like to see Sue Ellen do?

The interesting thing is, I never had a wish list on the original show. I remember going in to the producers that one time and telling them that all I’m doing is drinking and having affairs and drinking some more and having more affairs. And they were patronizing to me, in a nice way. They said, “Yes, darling, but you do it so well.” [Laughs] So then in Year 9, they called me and said, “OK, we’re going to take you off the bottle, but we’re going to take you down.” And I said, “How far down?” [Laughs] And they said, “You’re going down.” So we went down, and I ended up in the alley drinking with the bag lady. And I loved that. As an actor, it’s like, “Bring it on!” And this was at a time when alcoholism wasn’t being dealt with a lot on film.

Dallas, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

Don’t do it, darlin’!

I’m so glad you mentioned that, because when I think about the people who’ve contributed to society’s understanding of alcoholism as a disease, I think about you. Given the popularity of “Dallas,” I think you played an enormous role in that.

Well, that’s very kind. I’m just doing my job.

Well, you do it so well — and I’m not being patronizing!

[Laughs] No, that’s perfect. Thank you.

So let’s talk about Sue Ellen. My readers and I spend a lot of time debating this character, who is still so fascinating. How do you see her?

I have often said I found her to be the most interesting woman on television in the ’80s because she was so complex and complicated. And she’s still very interesting, but she’s different. When they brought the show back after 20 years, I told [the producers]: She’s got be strong. She has to be a changed woman. That’s the one comment I gave them. I know Dallas women. I have a lot of friends there. They’re extraordinarily talented, smart, gracious, generous women. And I wanted Sue Ellen to reflect that. She’s a former Miss Texas. She was married to that crazy J.R. Ewing. But she’s smarter now. She knows where all the bodies are buried. So who better to step in and start wheeling and dealing than Sue Ellen?

So you’re satisfied with where the character is today?

Oh, I love it. I feel like she’s a challenge for the writers. Bobby was always the good guy, J.R. was always the guy you loved to hate, but Sue Ellen is in this sort of gray area. This is supposition on my part, but my sense is that she keeps [the writers] on their toes.

Does it make a difference having Cynthia Cidre, a woman, as “Dallas’s” head writer?

As a woman, yes. I thought the original series was very sexist and chauvinistic.

I agree.

Oh, good. The thing I love about Cynthia is that she pulled together these amazing, amazing writers. We never had a writers’ room on the original show. Now, if somebody gets stuck and they don’t know what to do with a character or a scene, she has eight or nine other people who can interject their thoughts and their ideas. It’s so creative and collaborative.

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing

Big love

And what about Sue Ellen and J.R.? Why do you think they loved each other?

Oh, the most fabulous question. J.R. loved women, obviously. And he was brought up to have that trophy-wife syndrome. He wanted to marry the prettiest woman in Texas. And Sue Ellen’s mother taught her to go after the money. So with these two, it wasn’t a match made anywhere but hell. [Laughs] But — but! — through the years, I think a great, great love developed between J.R. and Sue Ellen. It was a Virginia Woolf kind of a love, kind of a dysfunctional love, but you know, marriage isn’t always wonderful and seamless and positive. I always found that idea interesting, that they didn’t begin on a high note. He was a philanderer, and she drank to anesthetize herself to the pain. But deep down — and they picked it up early on the new series — there really was love there.

I’m so glad the new show played that up. It was so sweet to see how their relationship had matured.

Cynthia told me that if Larry hadn’t passed, she had planned to end the season with a scene where J.R. and Sue Ellen go into the bedroom and shut the door. And so you would have been left with the impression that they were getting back together.

Oh, that’s so heartbreaking! That would have been wonderful.

Yeah, I just got chills when she told me that. I thought, “Oh, wouldn’t that have been just lovely?” We could’ve started all over again.

Do you think Sue Ellen loved any of the other men in her life?

I don’t think so.

Not Dusty Farlow?

He may have been the closest one, followed by Jack Scalia’s character [Nicholas Pearce]. Those are the only two that I can think of. There were so many! [Laughs]

Would you like to see Sue Ellen find someone new next season?

I don’t know. I think it could be kind of fun for her to be flirtatious with somebody, but she may not be ready for a relationship. But that’s just my take. The writers may have something else in mind. I think she’s got her hands full with that boy of hers.

Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

Honor thy mama

He’s a chip off the old block, isn’t he?

When we all read the final scene [of Season 2] where he goes to Emma, I thought, “You rat!” And when he had [J.R.’s] watch on, I thought, “Oh, boy. We’re in deep trouble now.” Mama has to step in.

I wonder if he’ll wear the watch next season?

I’m going to take it away from him. I’m going to ground him. He’s going to have to go to his room. No television. Nothing. [Laughs]

So how are you and Sue Ellen alike and how are you different?

Oh, boy. Let’s see. I have much more humor. My life is totally different. I’m much more … how do I even say this? It’s hard to describe yourself.

Maybe you’re not alike.

You know, I’m sitting here in my office in my home and I’m looking outside. I have an organic vegetable garden. I live on a ranch, but I don’t tell that to Texans because they would laugh. It’s only three acres. But in my mind, it’s a ranch. I’m very casual. And I have a great circle of wonderful friends and family. I have two grandsons. So my life is more … I don’t want to say normal. My life is easier than Sue Ellen’s. I do love her clothes, though. We have that in common.

Dallas, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

Substance and style

But I bet your styles are different.

Our styles are different, yes. But I love putting on her clothes. On the set, I cannot do a scene without my high heel shoes. And even though my feet are under the desk or under the table and you don’t see them on camera, those heels make my character whole. I couldn’t wear fluffy slippers because that would not be Sue Ellen. And at the end of day, like at 10 o’clock at night, the girls will say to me, “Linda, you don’t have to wear these shoes.” And I’ll say, “I cannot do that scene without those shoes. I’m sorry.” And my feet are very sorry. But that’s how it is when I play Sue Ellen. I have to layer her. You know, when you step into the makeup chair, that’s layer number one. And then you go and have the hair done. And then you slip into the outfit. There’s a process, and for me, that’s hugely important.

I think I know the answer to this question, but I’ll ask it anyway. You’re one of the stars of “Dallas.” Are you also a fan?

I am a huge fan! I have always loved it. The original show still entertains me. I still get excited and I giggle and I laugh and I think, “Oh, I remember that scene! That was such a good scene.”

Do you watch the new show?

Oh, I watch it live!

Oh, wow. You should get on Twitter and tweet with us when we’re watching.

Somebody else told me that and I said, “What? Live tweeting?” I’m a little behind, and I know my fans get kind of upset. They’re like, “Come on, tweet more.” I don’t do it unless there’s something I can tweet about.

So what else are you a fan of? What shows and movies and actors do you like?

Well, my two favorite actors are Maggie Smith and Judi Dench. I mean, to watch them is to attend an acting class. I watch “Downton Abbey.” I watch “Homeland.” I love anything with great characters, great writing, great acting. It’s like this new Woody Allen film [“Blue Jasmine”]. I applaud him as a director so much because he keeps the camera on Cate Blanchett. And I was jealous. I was like, “Oh, man. He’s letting her go.” And she’s brilliant anyway.

That’s one of the things I loved about the old “Dallas” — those long, slow-burn reaction shots.

They’d let you play out your emotions. The new show jumps around a little more. They edit quickly. So that was new for me. Shooting in HD was new for me. But then you realize: OK, all these years have gone by. Things change. You have to change with the times.

Well, I think you and Sue Ellen are both doing a pretty terrific job changing with the times.

Oh, you sweetheart! Thank you.

Share your comments below and read more interviews from Dallas Decoder.

Dallas Cliffhanger Classics: Season 11

Dallas Decoder celebrates “Dallas’s” classic cliffhangers with weekly summertime flashbacks. Collect all 14 images and share them with your friends.

Dallas Cliffhanger Classics 11

The Dal-List: Classic ‘Dallas’s’ 5 Most Shocking Shootings

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Who Shot J.R.?

The one heard round the world

TNT’s “Dallas” delivered a shocker at the end of “Sins of the Father,” this week’s episode: Ann (Brenda Strong) shot her ex-husband Harris (Mitch Pileggi) and left him bleeding on his den floor. It was the latest example of “Dallas’s” long tradition of using gunplay to throw viewers for a loop. Here’s my list of the five most shocking shootings seen during the original series.

Dallas, Fat Lady Singeth, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing

She bangs

5. J.R. Ewing (1988). “Dallas’s” 12th season ended with Sue Ellen and boyfriend Nick Pearce (Linda Gray, Jack Scalia) bursting into a high-rise hotel room to confront J.R. (Larry Hagman) over his latest misdeeds. J.R. pulled a gun, Nick lunged at him and before you knew it, studly Mr. Pearce went tumbling over the balcony. That’s when Sue Ellen picked up J.R.’s gun, fired three shots at him and dialed the police to report “a double murder.” Even though this was the fourth (!) time J.R. was shot on the show – and even though there was no doubt he’d survive – you have to admit: Seeing Sue Ellen plug him was pretty surprising.

Dallas, Don Starr, Jordan Lee, Terminus

For whom the booth tolls

4. Jordan Lee. This longtime Ewing frenemy had a penchant for hooking up with shady women – we’re looking at you, Kristin – but when Jordan (Don Starr) got involved with mysterious Sheila Foley (Susan Lucci), he paid the ultimate price. Jordan helped Sheila with her convoluted scheme to masquerade as Bobby’s wife because he believed Sheila merely wanted to make a big speech criticizing OPEC at a Parisian oil conference. When he realized she had deadlier aims, he ducked into a phone booth to call J.R. for help – but before Jordan started dialing, one of Sheila’s goons shot him, ending his 12-year run on the show.

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, End Game, Patrick Duffy

Twist of fake

3. Bobby Ewing. The last episode of “Dallas’s” eighth season felt awfully familiar: The whole world was mad at J.R., and one by one, his enemies were vowing revenge. (Peter Richards: “I swear I’ll kill you!”) As the hour drew to a close, we were given a first-person perspective as someone entered the darkened Ewing Oil suite, walked into J.R.’s office and fired three shots into the back of his chair. A body slumped to the floor, but it wasn’t J.R. – it was Bobby (Patrick Duffy)! Was this a shameless rip-off of the “Who Shot J.R.?” cliffhanger from four years earlier? Absolutely. Was it also one of the show’s best-ever fake-outs? You bet it was.

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, No More Mr. Nice Guy Part 1, Who Shot J.R.?

Big shot

2. J.R. Ewing (1980). Hold your fire, fellow fans. I know what you’re thinking: How can this one not be ranked first on a list of shocking “Dallas” shootings? Because CBS spoiled the surprise. Before the network broadcast “A House Divided,” the serial’s most famous cliffhanger, it aired promos that showed J.R. getting shot. As if that wasn’t bad enough, CBS also ran a half-page ad in TV Guide with a screaming headline (“It Had to Happen – J.R. is Shot!”). So yes, even though J.R.’s shooting was a stroke of storytelling genius – and even though it cemented “Dallas’s” spot in the TV Hall of Fame – it wasn’t much of a shock.

April Ewing, Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Patrick Duffy, Sheree J. Wilson, Terminus

French twist

1. April Ewing. Did you see this one coming? I sure didn’t. Like Jordan’s death, this shooting was part of the storyline about Sheila masquerading as Bobby’s kidnapped wife April (Sheree J. Wilson) during their Parisian honeymoon. April was supposed to be released to Bobby’s custody at the OPEC conference – but when gunfire broke out, she got caught in the crossfire. The scene ended with Bobby weeping as he cradled his dead bride’s body. Wilson had become “Dallas’s” leading lady at this point, making this the first time the show had killed off one of its main characters (not counting Jock, of course). Her death remains one of the show’s boldest – and most heartbreaking – plot twists.

Which “Dallas” shootings shocked you most? Share your choices below and read more “Dal-Lists.”