Actor Jesse Metcalfe has a lot in common with his character on the regeneration of Dallas. While Metcalfe is best known as the sexy gardener cavorting with Eva Longoria in Desperate Housewives, he's the upstanding good guy on Dallas. That's not so far from the real Metcalfe.

"I think the thing that most defines me as a person is my drive to succeed, my ambition," he says.

"It's difficult to go into what drives someone because it's kind of private and some people don't want to share that with the world," he says.

"It's sort of like an actor's secret; their secret weapon, and you don't want to reveal your secret weapon. But I have some family things that really drive me to be the best man I can and to succeed.


"My formative years, my childhood and some of my high school years, I wasn't the most popular person out there. Sometimes that surprises people, but I think that really drove me, propelled me to succeed, specifically in this industry."

Metcalfe, who was first seen on the daytime series Passions, admits he was shy as an adolescent. "I was relatively social. I always had a girlfriend. But I was a bit shy ... The shyness and insecurity when you're acting, it does melt away because you're not really being you. And you can really put yourself in the circumstance of your character and think your character's thoughts. It takes you on a personal journey."

Acting can be cathartic, too, he adds. "If you bring some of the issues that you're grappling with in your life into your work, oftentimes you find resolution in the world of the story that you're creating. That's why I love this character of Christopher that I'm playing on Dallas, in that, in a lot of ways, he's very much like me.

"He's trying to find his place in the Ewing hierarchy. He's trying to find his place as a man. Because a man's 30s are a very important time where he solidifies the person he's going to be for the rest of his life. I think that's Christopher's journey. And I think that's the journey that I'm on personally ..."

Metcalfe plays Bobby Ewing's adopted son, an honourable sort trying to cope with the mendacity around him. "He doesn't really lie, cheat or steal. However, unlike Bobby, because he was adopted, he's feeling a bit of a hole; he's really looking for himself. He has some abandonment issues and has a bit of a chip on his shoulder."

Metcalfe grew up in Connecticut in a blue-collar family. "They certainly taught me the value of a dollar and I worked from when I was 14 years old 'til 18, 19 and at 20 I came to Los Angeles. My parents always made me have a job and made me pay for my car insurance and stuff like that, so I think I had good values."

He traces his passion for acting to his childhood, when his father would take him to the movies. "One of the first movies that really impacted me was The Breakfast Club in 1985. I was only seven years old and he took me to see that movie, and it really moved me, so I really got interested in the movies."

After high school Metcalfe studied film at New York University, hoping to write and direct. As part of that curriculum, he took acting classes.

"We did this exercise where they place an empty chair in the little room and you walked around the chair and said one line to the chair. You pretend like somebody was in the chair, but you kept that in your head, you kept that a secret. You walked around the chair and kept repeating the line, and I had, I guess, a breakthrough - I guess my first acting breakthrough where I felt like I transcended myself and I was in the moment and deep emotion came out of me, and I said, 'Oh, I like this'.

"I'm a very emotional person and I don't really have a filter as far as expressing my emotions are concerned," he says.

"Obviously society dictates that you have to have a filter, but it's very easy to let my emotions come to the surface - be it anger or sadness or what have you - so I think I had a natural inclination to being an actor."

Metcalfe, 33, admits he's a perfectionist. "I can be a little neurotic, a little hard on myself.

"That can suck the joy out of something you're doing. It doesn't always create the environment that other people particularly enjoy. But when I'm on my own and I'm feeling confident, I consider myself to be a very fun person to be around and a great person to work with."

TV profile
Who: Jesse Metcalfe, former Desperate Housewives gardener

What: Dallas, the remake

When and where: TV One, 8.30 tonight