- - Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Although he has appeared in dozens of TV show and films and has released nine albums, actor John Schneider will always be Bo Duke. Alongside Tom Wopat (Luke Duke) and Catherine Bach (Daisy Duke), the strawberry-blond-headed star of the classic down-home family TV show “The Dukes of Hazzard” delighted fans of all ages every Friday night for seven seasons on CBS.

After “Dukes” ended, Mr. Schneider continued to work, most notably as Superman’s dad Jonathan Kent for 10 season on “Smallville” and James Cryer on Tyler Perry’s “The Haves and the Have Nots.”

Mr. Schneider discussed his career, the lasting appeal of “Dukes of Hazzard” and the Confederate flag controversy that left the Dukes as unfortunate victims.

Question: What are your thoughts on family-friendly entertainment like “Dukes”? 

Answer: We need to have more entertainment we can sit and watch together with our entire family. I believe that as parent. I look at my history with “Dukes of Hazzard” and “Smallville” and a bunch of the movies I’ve done along the way, they seem to have an inclusive element in people’s lives. That is not say that every movie has to be that, but certainly a measurable percentage of them need to be better.

Q: How do you choose the roles you play?

A: Script. It is always he script. It is always the story. You can cut your throat by doing a movie with the right message that is poorly written. It all starts with the written word. The Bible itself is pretty well-written. If it weren’t, people probably wouldn’t be reading it all these years [later].

Q: What are you working on these days?

A: I have a studio in Louisiana. We are making movies based on the faith that I am supposed to be making movies. Is there a [calling to worship] in them? No. Are they warm and fuzzy? No. That doesn’t come out of my soul.

As I’m getting older and older and trying to define what comes out of my soul, I write screenplays that help you be more comfortable with your uncomfortable thoughts.

Q: You’ve done decades of work, but still most people remember you as Bo Luke from “Dukes of Hazzard.”

A: Of course they do! I love “The Dukes of Hazzard.”

Q: Will you always be Bo Luke?

A: I don’t know. Michael Landon wasn’t always Little Joe from “Bonanza” and Larry Hagman wasn’t always Major Nelson [from “I Dream of Jeannie”), he became J.R. Ewing. Who know what I’ll become?

Q: Why were you not on “Dukes of Hazzard” for the one season in the middle of the run?

A: That was in part due to a manager who said, “The Duke boys will not be cheated, and neither will we.” That’s what costs me like $100 million dollars. [laughs]

Q: What do you think about the Confederate flag controversy that caused cable networks to stop running “Dukes of Hazzard” because the car had a Confederate flag on its roof?

A: We are collateral damage. It’s sad to me that people can look at what is arguably, in television land, a national treasure like “The Dukes of Hazzard.” The show was something that absolutely brought people together. I can’t tell you how many people come up to me and say, “My greatest memories of my grandmother and grandfather were Friday nights watching ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ together.”

To put a negative color on the show is to say that the people who loved it and continue to love it are of a hateful persuasion. And that certainly the people who made the show are of a hateful persuasion. It’s sad. I tell people, I have a chest of drawers in my house, and I have seven or eight sets of white sheets in there. That does not mean I’m a klansman.

It’s sad people have reacted this way. I think it will pass. It’s been around before. As information is more readily available to the world, issues become bigger quicker. The good part is they fade quicker. Andy Warhol was right in his time, but wrong now. There used to be 15 minutes of fame for everyone. Now it’s like 15 seconds.

Q: Has the controversy hurt your current work?

A: The sad part of it for me is we had a wonderful ad campaign going with Auto Trader. And there were plans to do more. Of course, it’s a publicly traded company. They couldn’t do more due to the pressure. I don’t blame them. I don’t blame TV Land for pulling “Dukes” off. People that are owned by hundreds of thousands of people have to do what they feel is politically correct, whether it’s right or not.

But this revisionist history is absurd, and it’s making me more and more reclusive. I live at the end of a dirt road. It’s like I live in a bubble. There is a movie that came out when we were starting “The Dukes of Hazzard” starring Ned Beatty called “Friendly Fire.” I feel like Bo and Luke and Daisy and Uncle Jesse [actor Denver Pyle], God rest his soul, are victims of friendly fire. These aren’t mean people. They’re just uninformed.


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