Bill Engvall Loves His Work

The versatile actor/comedian reveals a dramatic side with a role on TNT's Hawthorne

By , Columnist

Bill Engvall as Detective James "Jimmy" Dupree.

Actor/comedian Bill Engvall is a study in versatility, having starred in his own sitcom (The Bill Engvall Show), hosted a game show (GSN’s Lingo), and been a member of a The Blue Collar Comedy Troupe with fellow comedians Jeff Foxworthy, Ron White, and Larry the Cable Guy. Engvall’s main claim to fame, however, is his stand-up comedy. You might be familiar with his signature bit “Here’s Your Sign,” a hilarious take on stupidity in everyday life. Now he is taking a dramatic turn in TNT’s medical drama Hawthorne.

In a recent phone interview, I asked Engvall to tell me a bit about his character. “I play Detective James 'Jimmy' Dupree, an internal affairs cop who’s something of a manipulator.  He’s a good old southern boy, but you’ve got to watch him. He’s a little quirky, but not like Monk. More of a cross between McCloud and Baretta.”

Engvall’s performance in the episode “Parental Guidance Required,” is proof that he is indeed a fine dramatic actor. He gives Dupree a swagger and presence that is at once powerful, intimidating, and-dare I say-sexy.  

TNT asked him to do the three story arc on Hawthorne after his impressive turn as a car thief on Timothy Hutton’s drama Leverage. Working with the cast of Hawthorne was not without its challenges. Engvall was concerned he would be regarded as a "comedian not an actor" but he soon proved he was more than able to handle the role of Dupree.

He hopes fans will embrace this new side of him but, still, he’s loath to stick to one thing. While working on Hawthorne he was taping Lingo AND filming the forthcoming Hallmark Channel movie The Kids At Pine Lake. “I tried hard not to get my roles mixed up,” he laughed. He will soon be taking his stand-up act on the road again. “I’m always touring,” he said.

Currently, Bill Engvall is having the time of his life, living the dream, so it seems. Still, he's not done seeking new avenues to explore. When asked if he might have even more goals in mind, he said, “I’d like to have my own drama series. And play a cowboy in a western. Good guy or bad. It doesn’t matter.”

Hawthorne airs on Tuesdays at 10PM ET on TNT.

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Mindy Peterman is a freelance writer whose focus is on television, movies and pop culture. She has written over one hundred articles for the award winning website and has conducted interviews with producer Peter Asher, psychic-medium John Edward, Greg Grunberg and Bob Guiney from Band…

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