Early on, 71-year-old TV star Tom Wopat had actually dreamt of being a singer, but, instead, took the leap for Dukes of Hazzard, and his acting career took off from there. A casting director had seen Wopat on stage and reached out to him after his off-Broadway production of Oklahoma! in New York City. “Singing has always been my number one priority,” Wopat told Fox News Digital.
“They had everyone lined up by then. I was asked to go to Los Angeles for a screen test. So I took a paper bag full of clothes and got on a plane. I met John Schneider on a Wednesday, we did a test on a Friday, and 10 days later, we were shooting in Georgia,” he continued, recalling how it began.
‘Dukes of Hazzard’ Was Considered Controversial By Critics
CBS’ programming chief at the time, Donald Grant, faced some backlash from movie critics before Dukes‘ even premiered in 1979. The critics thought that “the two male leads appear to be on the wrong side of the law, that the subject of illegitimate parenthood was treated humorously, and that one of the female regulars is often seen in a skimpy costume,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Despite this, Grant went ahead and aired the series, which became a huge success, recording up to 20 million views per episode and growing to be the second-biggest show on television by its third season. It became a fan favorite, and the main cast, including Wopat, got to meet with fans at the “Good Ol’ Boys Fest” annual convention hosted by Ben Jones. Each convention was said to host over 10,000 fans every year.
Wopat’s Favorite Memory In ‘Dukes Of Hazzard’
His favorite memory in Dukes of Hazzard was acting alongside John Schneider. “I don’t know if there ever were two guys who made each other laugh as hard as we did. We really enjoyed each other. We became lifelong friends,” he said. But the whole cast was pretty darn close. “We tried not to take ourselves too seriously, and I think we did a pretty good job of that. We’ve lost some of the older guys since then, and it’s a shame. We were a family on set. I still see Catherine and John to this day. I love him like a brother. The show was a blessing.”
After the jolly run starring in Dukes of Hazzard, Wopat focused on music. “I was blessed with the fact that I had already done musicals before Dukes,” he said. “Sure, I did a couple of short-lived things, but they were never as fun as what we did. I think bouncing around in different mediums and keeping busy is key to this business. I’m always writing songs to keep me fresh.”
However, he did not stop acting: Wopat starred in Cybill, where he played Jeff Robbins, one of Cybill’s ex-husbands. “It was an interesting part. I got to sing a little bit in it. That was fun. They let me go after a while. I just didn’t really fit into some of the storylines. That’s OK. I was ready to move on,” Wopat recalled.
Recently, Wopat played Sheriff Rockwell in the sequel to County Line, County Line: All In.