Actor Patrick Duffy ... no, wait -- it's "actor-director Patrick Duffy." Because while many actors may direct an episode of their series here and there, "Dallas" star Duffy helmed 29 of the original 1981-91 version of the show, and 41 of his 1992-98 sitcom "Step by Step." Now, he step by steps again into directorial shoes for "Hurt," Monday night's episode of the revived "Dallas," currently in season three on TNT.
As an actor, Duffy, 65, has reprised his role as Bobby Ewing on "Dallas" and has a recurring role as Wayne, the father of star Greg Poehler's character, on the NBC sitcom "Welcome to Sweden." He's played Stephen Logan in more than 150 episodes of the daytime drama "The Bold and the Beautiful," and you never know where you'll see him on a guest spot.
The easygoing Duffy spoke with frequent Newsday contributor Frank Lovece.
Sometimes when an actor gets a chance to direct, it can take a while before the crew and the cast are comfortable with it. Did you find that when you started directing "Dallas" in the 1980s?
No, I didn't. And the reason I didn't was that Larry Hagman had directed an episode of "Dallas" before I did. When Larry started directing, there wasn't a ripple in the fabric at all. The following year, I asked for an episode and got it. The producers certainly were very supportive -- maybe on the first one they may have, in the back of their minds, wondered if we were going to cut it, and it would be a one-and-out. You know, you can get the first one if your lawyer demands it. The ones after that have to come because the production company thinks it's a good idea.
People call this the Second Golden Age of TV. You've done "Dallas" in the 1980s and the 2010s. How does TV compare?
Well, remember, in the very early '80s, things like "Dallas" were considered edgy and risky and somewhat decadent. We came on the heels of a lot of very dull, censored drama and comedy. And we pushed the envelope for the early '80s. But I go back every once in a while and watch old episodes, and though I think the acting is great and the style is great for that period, it doesn't hold a candle to shows depicting what life is really like in the 2010s.
You did that great cameo on "Family Guy" . How did that come about?
I have two boys; they're 40 and 35, but they're products of this age, and I consult them when things like that come up. The first thing that they thought was cooler than 30 years of my career was when I was Scuzzlebutt's left leg on "South Park" . But Seth McFarlane was a fan of "Dallas," and he wanted to put the shower scene into an episode of "Family Guy." When my agent contacted me, I immediately asked my boys, "What do you think?" And they essentially said, "You are crazy if you don't do this!"
We always have had a great attitude about the relevance of our show. The producers of the new "Dallas" are very respectful -- they love the mythology. But after we left the original "Dallas," it was not sacred to us. Larry and I actually wanted to get Warner Bros. to do an "Airplane!" version of "Dallas," but they didn't want to screw with the franchise.
Well, you can't blame them for that. And now, you're on "Welcome to Sweden."
It was just a fluke. Because of the popularity of the original "Dallas" in Sweden, Greg and Amy were trying to figure out somebody they could get from the show. Somebody pitched me, and apparently they thought, "Oh, God, he would never do that!" Little did they know, I'd do the opening of a 7-Eleven in Boise if somebody called me!
Anyway, I called my boys, and their first reaction was, "Anything Amy Poehler asks you to do, do it!" So I had a really lovely meeting with Amy in New York, and she came into it trying to convince me to do it, and I said, "Stop working so hard -- I'm in!"