Josh Henderson says he and his mother cried when he told her he was cast as oil tycoon J.R. Ewing's son, John Ross, on TNT's new "Dallas" series, adding that the original drama was a favorite of his late "MeeMaw."
The series premiered on Wednesday, June 13, and takes place some 20 years after the original "Dallas," which aired from 1978 to 1991 and was famous for cliffhangers. Larry Hagman, Linda Gray and Patrick Duffy reprise their old roles of Ewing, his ex-wife Sue Ellen and his brother Bobby.
"This was a big deal to me," Henderson, 30, told OnTheRedCarpet.com. "The show is ... just very much in my history, my family. My MeeMaw, it's her favorite show. So when I heard they were redoing it and bring it back, A, I just wanted an audition and a half hour after my first audition I got the test off to test for John Ross and I literally like screamed at the top of my lungs in the car because it started to feel I was this close."
"I knew that if I just stuck to my guns and just came in with this John Ross character that I'd developed that maybe I would have a shot and maybe land this role and a couple of tests later, I landed the role and called my mom," he said. "My mom and I both cried on the phone and it's just a very surreal thing so this has been a blessing for me."
Henderson said his Meemaw, or grandmother, passed away when he was 12.
"But I know that she's looking down on me, very, very excited, very proud and also probably really ready to get a little pissed off because I'm playing J.R.'s son," he added. "She loved to hate J.R. and she used to talk about J.R. to all my aunts and my uncles and now that I'm playing his son, no telling what she thinks up there."
Henderson is previously known for his role in the 2004 movie "The Girl Next Door" and shows such as "90210" and "Desperate Housewives," which also starred fellow "Dallas" newbie Jesse Metcalfe, who plays Bobby's son and John Ross' cousin, Christopher. Hagman, 80, also had a small role on the ABC series in 2011, a year before it ended its run.Henderson is actually originally from the city of Dallas and was happy to return home to film the series last year.
"It's great," he told OnTheRedCarpet.com. "I think that the fact that we're shooting 'Dallas' in Dallas ... every kind of noticeable landmark in the Dallas area, we shoot at, you just know that we're there. It has a very Texas feel and it's authentic. I think that the people from Texas appreciate it and I think that fans will appreciate it."
One of the city's most popular landmarks, Dallas Cowboys Stadium, is seen in the pilot.
Henderson said he finds that Dallas has "grown a lot" as a city.
"It's grown quick," he said. "Ten years ago I moved from there to L.A. and it's changed immensely in 10 years. It's exciting. There's a lot of great energy down there. It was great coming home to shoot the show, it was the best."
On the original "Dallas," the Ewing siblings bickered for years over the family oil business. In the new series, John Ross follows in his father's footsteps and wants to extract Texas crude from his late mother's famed Southfork Ranch, spurring the wrath of Bobby, who says she had forbidden drilling on her land and then goes further to try to sell the estate.
John Ross also challenges Christopher over his energy ideology - Christopher is trying to promote the use of greener energy via a new technology that seems to be more dangerous than first thought. The two are also involved in a love triangle - John Ross' is dating Elena, played by Jordana Brewster, who still has feelings for Christopher, her ex.
Hagman said the show contains the "usual intrigue, backstabbing" and showcases "a lot more flesh" than producers could "get away with" on the previous series, adding: "The girls, anyhow. Thank God."
The female "Dallas" newcomers include actresses Julie Gonzalo, who peels off her shirt within about 10 minutes into the pilot, Jordana Brewster and "Desperate Housewives" alum Brenda Strong. Henderson also stripped down for the show.
"He happens to have a washboard stomach, I think you probably noticed, in some of the ads, so they want to show that off as much as possible," Hagman said. "Thank God it ain't me."
Reporting by Chi-Lan Lieu, co-host of KABC Television's entertainment show "On The Red Carpet" (check for local TV listings).