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Linda Gray waited till ‘Dallas’ felt right again

Josh Hendersas John Ross Ewing LindGray as Sue Ellen Ewing 'Dallas' TNT.

Josh Henderson as John Ross Ewing and Linda Gray as Sue Ellen Ewing on "Dallas" on TNT.

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Updated: July 25, 2012 6:25AM

It’s been more than 20 years since Linda Gray was a weekly TV fixture on “Dallas,” but she’s finally back playing Sue Ellen Ewing on the revived series on TNT.

What took her so long?

“[Co-stars] Patrick Duffy, Larry Hagman and I had a pact,” Gray says. “We refused to do a new ‘Dallas’ if it was trashy or too weird. We wanted our old show honored and respected.”

What was it like to get back into Sue Ellen’s pumps? “I’m a really internal actor,” she says. “I didn’t just waltz back in there and say, ‘I know Texas. I know Southfork.’ I wanted to ask really deep questions like, ‘OK, Sue Ellen, what have you been up to for the last 20 years? Where have you been? Who have you been? Have you tackled your demons?’ ”

There’s a lot to catch up on with Sue Ellen. “As a mother, she dragged her son John Ross to London. Now, they’re both back in Texas,” Gray says. “And she has more money than J.R.!”

Sue Ellen was known to tip a bottle or two during her 1978-89 run on “Dallas.”

“I knew if you cross your eyes just the tiniest bit things go out of focus. That’s a great way to play drunk,” Gray says with a laugh. “It makes you slow down.”

What has never stopped is her love for J.R. (Hagman) and vice versa. “I think that Sue Ellen and J.R. share a deep love. It’s dysfunctional at its core. There is still some weird love there. I just can’t figure out why she would be attracted to him again.”

If it were up to Gray, Sue Ellen instead would have a fling with ... Bobby.

“We would have been perfect together,” she says with a sigh. “True story. Patrick and I trotted in one day to the producers’ office when we were younger and said, ‘We want to see Bobby and Sue Ellen together.’ They said, ‘Interesting, but not on your life. They’re just both too nice. It won’t work’ ”

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