Photography by Pamela Littky
In 1978, America was enraptured by the Ewings, the moneyed, oil- and power-hungry family at the center of Dallas. The Machiavellian J.R. reigned over a house of backstabbing, exploitation, and scandal until the series finale in 1991. Former Desperate Housewives castmember Josh Henderson stars as J.R.’s heir, John Ross III, in TNT’s continuation of the dynastic drama. The new series proves that not much has changed at Southfork Ranch.
“There’s a lot of expectation of my character,” Henderson acknowledges, pointing out that the next of kin have inherited an ongoing turf war. “He believes that he’s the one to sit at the head of the table, that he’s the man to lead the Ewing name into the future.” But the Ewings love nothing more than a battle, and Henderson is prepared for the fight. “John Ross gets backed into some corners,” he says, “but he uses charm and manipulation to achieve what he wants. He’s a chip off the old block.”
In a real-life twist, Henderson was born in Dallas. “I’m a very proud Texan,” he says. “It’s a very full-circle moment because this show put the city of Dallas on the map. We shot at the Dallas Cowboys Stadium, the Texas State Fair -- all those landmarks that make the city what it is. You see those vast, rolling, green hills—you can’t fake that.”
Something else the show just can’t seem to shake? Sexual appetites of Texas-sized proportions. “There’s definitely going to be a lot of skin,” Henderson says, admitting both he and Jesse Metcalfe -- who costars as his adopted brother and rival—will be exposing their cowboy physiques. “It’s nothing unfamiliar to us,” he says. “It’s basically our job to show up knowing our lines -- and to go to the gym.”