Tonight on Dallas’ two-hour season finale (TNT, 9 p.m. ET), viewers find out who shot J.R.(Larry Hagman), whether the Ewings can complete J.R.’s “masterpiece” to take down Cliff Barnes and Harris Ryland, and if Victoria Principal has returned as Christopher’s mother, Pam. “People know I can’t be bought,” Patrick Duffy says, laughing when asked if he’s been offered bribes to reveal the answers early. “It’s very rare that somebody offers, like they did Larry in the old days. The Queen Mother apparently tried to bribe him. But we don’t get that now because people are so happy to play the game with us. They like to ask the question: ‘What about Victoria Principal?’ ‘Who shot J.R.?’ But they say, ‘Don’t tell me! Don’t tell me!’ They want to be there watching and go, ‘Oh my gosh.’”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Last we saw Bobby, you were smiling walking out of Ewing Energies, in slow-mo, which I loved, after just handing Cliff Barnes the keys to the company. What can you tease about how we’ll see him in the finale?
PATRICK DUFFY: Bobby had a great little scene with Linda [Grey] in last Monday’s episodes where he says that hubris will bring Cliff down. We knew absolutely how to get Cliff Barnes overconfident. That’s why there’s that smirk. I’ve gotten tweets about my smirk. I’m very happy about that smirk. [Laughs] I didn’t know I had a good smirk in me. You actually smirk better in slow motion. What we end up seeing is that Bobby has to do things so out of his comfort zone. I mean he’s literally so uncomfortable, as a character, with the things he’s gonna have to do in these next two hours. The smirk gets replaced by a grimace of Ohmygod, what have I done? But, it’s great fun to do that, having been Bobby for over 30 years, to see how I have to make a good guy cross the line and still be, I think, a good guy. He is reluctant about doing it. He’s only doing it because J.R. mandated it in his dying letter. So, he’s obligated to do things that he’s not comfortable doing, but I don’t think he’s gonna stay there very long once the job is done.
That was going to be my next question: Is this leading to the unraveling of Bobby? I don’t know that fans want to see that.
They don’t. But they do like it when he is strong and he’s forceful.
I think the whole thing with J.R., and the resolution of this year, and just Larry dying and what that did to all of us – Bobby will reflect that strength now. He has gone where he’s gone, and he’s been okay. We need a patriarch for the show, and Bobby is that character. I think this year made him a more interesting patriarch. Instead of just soft and wise, he’s got a backbone. People know he will go to whatever length. I think that’s a fun thing the writers will have a good time working with next season.
We’ve begun to see nice scenes between Bobby and John Ross, especially in last week’s episodes. Will that continue in the finale?
Yes, it will. And I think it will continue into next season. Bobby needs a character like a J.R.: The funny thing was Bobby and J.R. fought their entire lives, but there is nobody they loved more than each other as well. That’s an interesting dynamic that we lose when Larry died – unless Bobby can look at John Ross and see somebody that he could never completely trust, but somebody who is family the way J.R. was family and so deserves Bobby’s respect. That’s a great combination of things to work with.
There are photos of the Ewing men visiting J.R.’s grave. Is that scene going to make me cry? I’m already preparing for it.
[Laughs] If we’re doing our job right, I hope so. It’s also going to drop your jaw. That’s where the world is gonna learn the last details of J.R.’s plan. So I think the combination… have at least one hanky ready.
We’ve also seen lovely little tributes to J.R. during episodes, as people raise a glass of bourbon to photos of him. Are there any traditions you uphold off-camera to remember Larry?
I’ve told people this, so I hope it doesn’t become cliché unto itself. But every year that I was on Dallas with Larry – it was 15 years that we’d done this show, and only the last eight episodes were without him – every time I ever reported to the set to go to work, I would go by Larry’s room and knock on the door, and if he was there, I’d jump in and we’d have a glass of champagne or something. That’s how I started every single work day on Dallas for 13 years and for the first year-and-a-half on the new Dallas. So his dressing room still exists right beside my dressing room in Texas, where we shoot the show. And literally, every time I walk by the room, I knock on the door. It’s just a habit, and now it’s almost like my good luck charm. I do it once a day, and I’d probably wet myself if I heard a voice say, “Come in.” But I just like to touch the relationship on a daily basis. In essence, I also realize I wouldn’t be here having this great job and this great life if it weren’t for Larry Hagman, because Dallas wouldn’t have run two years if it weren’t for that character. I owe a knock on the door to that man every time I go to work on a show that he basically created.
That’s beautiful. I can’t wait to see how J.R’s masterpiece plays out in the finale.
If it’s not making you cry, call me.
‘Dallas’: Julie Gonzalo on Pamela’s surprise wedding (and return to Southfork?)
Latest ‘Dallas’ recap: Family Ties
‘Dallas’ EP Cynthia Cidre teases a big moment for John Ross and Pamela
‘Dallas’ opening credits honor Larry Hagman and J.R. Ewing – EXCLUSIVE VIDEO