JDM on Re-creating History for ‘Texas Rising’ and ‘Marilyn Monroe’

InterviewsMarilyn MonroeTexas Rising

School may be almost out, but that doesn’t mean Jeffrey Dean Morgan isn’t ready to offer some history lessons. The actor will soon appear in two period dramas about very different aspects of U.S. culture: History’s “Texas Rising” miniseries, about the formation of the Texas Rangers, and Lifetime’s “The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe,” where he plays baseball great Joe DiMaggio. (Later this summer, he’ll head to the future and star opposite Halle Berry in the second season of CBS’ “Extant”).

Morgan was candid with Variety about his attraction to both projects during an interview at the London Hotel in West Hollywood. Here, he explains that Westerns make for good entertainment because there’s less dialogue (“That’s the sign of bad television, they’re over-explaining. In a Western, you’re never over-explaining.”) and speaks of the tumultuous love story that was Marilyn Monroe’s relationship with DiMaggio.

“Texas Rising” premieres at 9 p.m. May 25 on History. “Marilyn Monroe” premieres at 8 p.m. May 30 on Lifetime.

Which project did you shoot first?

I did “Texas Rising” for about six months last summer. I lived in Durango, Mexico. Looking back on it now, it was one of the greater experiences I’ve ever had. While I was there, I was miserable because I was away from my family and I didn’t eat for six months. I lost almost 50 pounds to do the role. I tortured myself greatly.

Now, a year later, I made some great friends and had some adventures that could not be duplicated. I fell in love with being on the back of a horse. I’ve seen the finished product, and I think it’s extraordinary. As an actor who is pretty hard on himself, it’s rare to come away from it and think it’s pretty damn good.

Had you seen History’s other miniseries?

I’d seen “Hatfields & McCoys” and I watch “Vikings.” I think the stuff they do is really good television. They get writers and they get good directors and they get good actors. Roland Joffé directed [“Texas Rising”], and I think he’s one of the finest, if not the finest, director I’ve ever gotten to work with.

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