Larry Hagman, who played the villainous J.R. Ewing on the 1980s nighttime soap Dallas, is battling cancer.
“As J.R. I could get away with anything – bribery, blackmail and adultery. But I got caught by cancer,” Hagman, 80, says in a statement. “I do want everyone to know that it is a very common and treatable form of cancer.”
Despite his illness, Hagman, who has signed on for TNT’s reboot of the drama, which is due to start production Monday, says the show must go on.
“I will be receiving treatment while working on the new Dallas series,” his statement continues. “I could not think of a better place to be than working on a show I love, with people I love. Besides, as we all know, you can’t keep J.R. down!”
This is the actor’s second fight with cancer. In the 1990s, he spoke candidly about his health challenges, including a past bout with cancer and cirrhosis of the liver that led to a liver transplant.
At the time he told PEOPLE how he grew from the trauma.
“This whole ordeal has brought the family closer together, and it has made me more aware of a higher being,” he said, adding, “I have also had some of the best talks ever with my children. One night I dreamed that I snapped at my sister Heller. The next morning, I apologized. She thought I was nuts. But I’m so grateful to be around and kicking.”
TNT released a statement in support of Hagman, who will be joined by alumni Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray in the series about the well-to-do Ewing family.
“Everyone at Warner Horizon Television, TNT and the entire Dallas family completely supports Larry Hagman during this time,” the statement reads. “We look forward to watching Larry once again work his magic by bringing one of television’s most interesting, complex and controversial characters back to the screen.”
TV Guide was the first to report his illness.
• Reporting by LESLEY MESSER