Bo Duke is back. CMT will begin airing reruns of The Dukes of Hazzard weeknights at 7 p.m. ET starting Sept. 13. But first, the channel welcomes the Dukes with a 33-hour weekend marathon that begins tonight at 8 p.m. ET with the pilot. John Schneider phoned us yesterday having already spent five hours doing interviews about the show that launched his career when he was 18. Like the General Lee, he never runs out of gas.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Have you ever watched an episode of Dukes of Hazzard in recent years and thought, Wow, we really did that? I reviewed the Season 1 DVD for EW in 2004, and was surprised to find an RV whorehouse used as a decoy.
JOHN SCHNEIDER: [Laughs] That was in “Daisy’s Song,” I believe, episode No. 2. [It airs at 9 p.m. ET tonight.] The first five episodes were very different from what the show turned into. Racy is really not the word. It was very… Shakespearean to begin with, where Bo said things like, “I chose this life not because I don’t know any better, but because I believe it is better” and “I’m not gonna let anybody pollute the well where I drink.” Pretty amazing dialogue for Bo Duke. [Laughs] And that was in the first episode. But yeah, occasionally, I’ll look at the show and think, Did I really run across that roof and jump down there? And I did. I did a lot of crazy things. It really is a remarkable show. It’s 32 years old, and people are still watching it.
In an extra on that Season 1 DVD, you mention that a young Quentin Tarantino once crashed at the home of James Best [Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane]. For six years, I’ve wanted to hear more about that.
He was a student at Jimmy’s acting school in Toluca Lake. I remember Jimmy saying once that he had a student in there, and he didn’t know if he was going to be a well-known director or a serial killer and he might very well be both. [Laughs] It was Quentin Tarantino.
You actually lived with Johnny Cash and June Carter for a time after you and he filmed the 1986 TV movie Stagecoach. What was the most surreal moment of that experience?
When I first showed up, Johnny met me at the door and said, “Before you come in, I want you to know one thing.” I said, “What’s that?” He said, “If I ever catch you treating this like it’s not your house, you’re no longer welcome in it.” That was the surreal moment because there’s Johnny Cash – in a white shirt, by the way, not a black shirt – giving me full run of the house. Only he could turn a phrase like that. We fished, and we looked at his coin collection and his Civil War buttons. We were just buddies.
This Dukes marathon is 33 hours long. What’s your personal TV marathon record?
I think my record might be nine hours of Twilight Zone. I also once watched six hours of Lost in Space. I was a big Lost in Space fan when I was a kid.
One of our standard questions: When do you yell at the TV?
Well, honestly, as sad as it may sound, when I watch golf I will yell at the TV. It’s true. “Oh, why’d you hit it over there?!” It’s almost like I’m playing it myself. Some reality television, mostly stuff that Gordon Ramsay does, will get me riled up. I’ll yell right alongside of him, “You doughnut! You doughnut!” I think Kitchen Nightmares is one of the best hours on television. I really do. I think it’s great.
Did you write a fan letter to anyone when you were young?
I did write a fan letter to Billy Mumy as Will Robinson, wanting to be on Lost in Space. [Laughs] I didn’t get on the show though, sadly. I don’t know why? How difficult could it be?
Name a piece of pop culture memorabilia from your childhood you wish you still had. [Note: I chose not to tell him that I cried last Christmas when my mother replaced my long-lost Dukes of Hazzard TV dinner tray.]
Oh, my baseball cards. I had so many baseball cards. Mickey Mantle, Tom Seaver, Gil Hodges. Like kids of my era, I took clothespins and pinned them somehow to the back of my bicycle so they would make noise. Every time I hear about a Mickey Mantle card or a rookie card of somebody from way back when going for a $100,000, I want to shoot myself.
What is your most prized pop-culture possession today? I know you’ve sold your General Lee.
I sold the General Lee, but I do have my bow and arrow from The Dukes. That’s special to me. But here’s a weird thing I have: The boots that I wore when I auditioned for the show and for those first five episodes, my mother got them from me and actually had them bronzed years and years ago. So I have those boots in my office – Bo’s original boots from The Dukes of Hazzard – bronzed and sitting next to my desk. Now I think that’s cool.
That is amazing.
Thank you, mom.
What movie do you have to watch every time you spot it on cable?
The Outlaw Josey Wales. Clint Eastwood. Gotta do it. Can’t miss it. Ever.
The best concert you’ve ever seen?
Cat Stevens when “Banapple Gas” came out, maybe ‘75. Great concert. My first concert was Chicago, probably in ‘74.
You were apparently my first concert in the early ’80s. I was old enough to beg my parents to take me to it, but too young to remember it. What did I miss?
You missed a great show, a great show, with somebody who loves to be onstage and really enjoys what he’s doing. I have so much fun up there, and I’m told that it’s contagious.
Name a song you wish you would have written.
[Laughs] The theme from The Dukes of Hazzard, of course. Can you imagine? That song has probably made more money…
You’ve appeared on a wide range of shows since leaving Smallville: Nip/Tuck, Leverage, Dirty Sexy Money, 90210, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Hot in Cleveland. What show are you dying to guest on?
I’d like to be on House, ‘cause I would like to give him a run for his money. I’d like to play someone who is as sarcastic and as biting as House is on House, ‘cause I can do that. He’s a big guy. He’s my height, or maybe a little taller.
You’re returning as Jonathan Kent for at least one episode of Smallville’s final season. What should be the final shot of the entire series?
Have Clark wondering whether or not he should become Superman, and see me fasten the cape around his neck and give him a look that says it’s okay. He leaps out of frame, and that would be the end of it.