Billingsley Leaves With Happy MemoriesBy Michelle
March 10, 2005 - 9:07 PM
"One more rubber head left," John Billingsley joked, speaking of his mixed feelings at the impending end of Star Trek: Enterprise on Monday, the day before principal filming wrapped on the series. Although he expressed regret at the loss of relationships on the show, he added, "it is a function of Paramount having decided that they do not want to make this show anymore...and I don't really, honestly, disagree with Paramount's thinking. I am sorry to see it go, I'm sorry to see my relationships end, but, if I worked for Paramount, I probably would be inclined to agree with them that it needs to take a little bit of a break."
Speaking to TheFandom.com, Billingsley reflected fondly on many aspects of Enterprise from his audition through his last episodes. "When I first auditioned, there wasn't a lot to go on," he said, revealing that the staff had asked him to come in with a slight alien accent for Phlox. "I thought maybe he had avian-like tendencies, so I squawked," he continued, demonstrating a crow for host Chase Masterson and saying that his first crows for the show were cut.
"In retrospect, seven years of squawking probably wouldn't have been so much fun," the actor conceded. In compensation, he noted of Phlox, "I have a giant smile, my head blows up like a puffer fish, I've got a tongue that goes down to my ankles, and I have three wives...which leads me to believe that I have three penises but that was never explored." In fact, protested Billingsley, "I was the only character on the show who never got laid in four years. All the Mrs. Phloxes are back on Denobula...at one point they brought a wife of mine on, but she spent the whole episode hitting on Trip." Billingsley blamed the producers for this unfairness, saying that he could complain now "because what are they going to do, fire me?"
The actor's favorite episode was "Doctor's Orders", partly because it was one of Phlox's strongest storylines in terms of his ethics and relationship with Archer, but also because during the filming of that installment, he won the Halloween costume contest among the cast and crew for dressing as Phlox in bondage. ""The focus was the dominatrix, and I was the passive - I was on a long dog leash with black leather panties," he chuckled. "I won first prize...first thing I've ever won in my life. There are wonderful pictures that I'm saving for my retirement fund." Upon hearing that executive producer Brannon Braga had judged the contest, Masterson said that now she understood why Billingsley had won.
Acting initially appealed to Billingsley, he said, because it gave him a different way of relating to his peers. Because of his strong southern accent after his family moved up north, "I was always a pariah in fifth grade...but I was a literate pariah, on account of the fact that I was always reading." It was required that all students audition for the school production of A Christmas Carol, "and I was essentially the only fifth grader who could read off the page with any emotionalism." For a month, he added, he was extremely popular, which was one of the happiest of his life: "I got more money down the road, but in terms of fan and love and affection, Scrooge was the high point" before the show closed "and they started beating me up again." In fact, added Billingsley, the experience was like a microcosm of show business: "You have a moment in the sun and then they kick your ass."
The actor said he believed that Star Trek would return in a different incarnation, but that Enterprise would not return even if fans raised the millions of dollars necessary to produce another season. "It's not a question of the fact that Paramount could certainly afford to continue doing this show, and they could probably find a channel somewhere to pick it up," he noted. "The feeling is, I'm guessing, that if the show goes away, if the franchise goes away for a while, when it returns people will be hungry for it again, and more than just the people who are watching it now might be curious enough to take a look at it and give it another shot." He believed that Star Trek would return in another incarnation, but "like one of the great principles of horticulture, you know, the ground has to be fallow for a while, before you can replant."
For more, including the name of the Enterprise cast member who cursed the most and for an interview with makeup artist Michael Westmore in which he cites the Xindi lizards as one of his best-loved aliens, though his all-time favourite remains the android from The Next Generation's "Offspring", listen to the original interview at TheFandom.com.