From his previous popular TV roles and star turns as a South Florida detective Sonny Crockett in Miami Vice and a San Francisco investigator in Nash Bridges, Don Johnson is doing an about face in his return to primetime in his juicy new role in ABC’s new soap opera, Blood & Oil! Johnson also serves as one of the executive producers of the show.
In the series which premieres this Sunday night September 27th at 9PMET, Johnson plays Hap Briggs, the oil baron at the center of the fictional Bakken Shale, a boomtown of Rock Springs, North Dakot. And as you would expect from that premise, Hap is not the nicest guy on the planet. The series also stars: Chace Crawford as Billy Lefever, Rebecca Rittenhouse as Cody Lefever, Scott Michael Foster as Wick Briggs, and former Revenge star Amber Valletta as Carla Briggs.
The comparisons to the iconic primetime soap opera Dallas are already being bantered about. But can Blood & Oil separate itself from that iconic soap classic? Will it have traction with the viewing audience?
On-Air On-Soaps caught up with Johnson at the recent ABC TCA Summer Press Tour, as he shared a myriad of thoughts including: what to expect when the series begins its run, why he decided to take on the role of Hap Briggs, what does he think about the series be labeled a “soap opera” and more. Here’s what Don had to say:
If he considers Blood & Oil a soap opera: It’s a cut above that. I certainly think in people’s minds it’s going to fall into that category. But this is more like a sweeping epic novel that has some soapy moments. You know I loved the show, Bloodlines. And it was not considered a soap, but was sort of soapy, and sort of novelistic in its approach. That is what my aspiration is for Blood & Oil.
If this is the juiciest role of his career: You know, I have had a lot of juicy roles. But this is so much fun, because I’m not playing the good guy, and playing the good guy can get pretty boring, because you’re range is not that much. However, when you get to play a character like this – you get to go all over the place. And a lot of times in the middle of a scene that is written kind of innocuously or sort of neutral, I will say, “Well, what if he is sinister here … maybe he has a sense of humor … or what if we know don’t know what he is doing?”
How much villainy should we expect Hap Griggs to get into: He’s a billionaire! So, he’s probably capable of doing whatever it takes to remain the king! When you get the biggest oil boom in the world, and the largest oil find in the world, and I get to play the big cheese … watch out! You know, I get to do a big romp with the seven deadly sins!
Who did Don emulate to come up with this rich guy characters: I have patterned this character after an amalgamation of a few billionaires I know. I can’t tell you who they are! I gotta protect the guilty! (Laughs)
When fans turn into Blood & Oil, what can they expect to see: The show is about a family, greed and the biggest oil discovery of mankind, and about this character who is larger than life named Hap Griggs, who I get to play. He is a man that is driven by a sense of destiny to make America energy independent, and that it’s his calling to do it! Nothing is going to stand in his way to see that done. And if that ain’t enough to get you in there and interested in watching, I don’t know what is! (Laughs)
What is most exciting for Don returning to a network television series: You now what is exciting to me at this time? It’s the opportunity to be in touch with my fans in a more personal and direct way. That was never available to me before, and with social media and with the way that we are encouraged to involve and engage with our fans, that is very exciting for me. I’m embracing that.
On having a career that has spanned several decades: Television is king right now. I enjoy the opportunity to be in this world. My goodness! How lucky am I to be relevant after all these years! One time I was playing golf with Kevin Costner in Aspen. I said to him, “Wow, Kevin! Look at that. Look at how beautiful this is and where we are!” Kevin said to me: “Yeah, except for a right decision here and there, it could very well have been ‘Kevin and Don’s pool service.’”
Shooting on location, and the backdrop of the show: We are shooting in Park City Utah, and not North Dakota. We wanted to have the scope and the size of the show reflect in the photography, and illustrate the enormity of what is going on up here. And not unlike, Miami Vice where we created sort of a fantasy world, we are doing something here where you don’t have to think fantasy world, and where the power of being energy independent is the driving force in this story.
His thought’s on his Blood & Oil leading lady, Amber Valletta: Amber Valletta doesn’t really have to say anything. All you have to do is look at her. She happens to be a fine actress and she can deliver. When she is on the screen, they don’t even know I’m there!
So, will you be checking out Don Johnson in his new role on Blood & Oil on Sunday night? Do you think it can become the next big primetime soap?
Are you happy to see Don back in a starring role in a nighttime series? Share your thoughts in the comment below!