Linda Gray is best known for playing Sue Ellen, JR’s long-suffering wife in US mega-soap Dallas. Now 74, she’s also trodden the boards in the UK in The Graduate, and is back this year for her first taste of pantomime.
Here she discusses this new departure in her career, what advice she would give to Sue Ellen if they ever met, and her new movie but first, how does she like the UK?
“I love it! I always love coming back here, and now I’m doing pantomime. I play the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella and it’s a delicious role.
“I couldn’t ask for anything better. It’s my first time [doing panto] and I’m really enjoying every moment of it.
“I’ve just sort of stood staring blankly during rehearsals, but [my co-stars] been so good to me. Really, really, wonderful. They’re charming, experienced, funny... We’re already this wonderful little family. It’s quite something.”
So, is she looking forward to the audience participation?
“Ha ha! That was all new to me. My eyes widened when I heard it - audience participation! Again, it’s a great experience.”
What does she do in her spare time?
“I love to walk, so whenever I have a moment, I walk around and explore that way - I think that’s the best way to see anything.”
Was she sad the revamped Dallas ended?
“Yes, of course. But you don’t dwell on it. You’re sad, but it’s part of being an actor. You become a family, and when that family dissipates, you have to go back to doing your own thing. There’s a sadness that you don’t see them every day or afterwards for dinner.
“But everyone goes off to do something else and you cheer them on, and then you meet again six months, a year, five years later, and you connect again.
“Oh it was really lovely [to work on], extraordinary. As an actor, when you have those great moments, they’re the ones that are locked in your being forever.
“I was very surprised [when it became a massive hit! We were just doing these crazy things, being these eccentric Texans, having no concept that around the world, people were enthralled by it.”
The Brits went crazy for the ‘Who shot JR’ storyline. It must have been strange hearing stories about how desperate we were to find out whodunit...?
“Oh I know. I think you guys were the biggest fans of any country.
“You so appreciated everything we did, it was wonderful. Again, we were in California in a film studio, having no concept of the enormity of the filming we were doing.”