Actress Bonita Friedericy was not only a guest star in a Star Trek: Enterprise episode (Regeneration‘s assimilated Rooney), but in real life she is married to Enterprise‘s Dr. Phlox (John Billingsley).
Friedericy has appeared in many shows since the 1990s, including Mad About You, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Judging Amy, Scrubs, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, The West Wing, American Crime Story and her recent series, Dwight in Shining Armor. But she is best-known to fans of Chuck, as no-nonsence General Beckman.
TrekBBS’ 1001001 has collected questions submitted by TrekBBS posters for this interview. TrekToday thanks Friedericy for her time in answering them.
TrekToday: “How did you start acting?”
BF: “Slowly. No, just kidding. I started in school. The first play I did was Fiddler on the Roof, when I was ten. I was cast because my brother was in it. Nepotism rocks! Well, actually the first time I acted was with my brother and sister in the garage. They staged puppet shows for our parents and other neighborhood kids. I was four. I was the one whose puppet got hit in the head by the other puppets.”
TrekToday: “What was your first ‘real’ acting job?”
BF: “Tartuffe, by Moliere, at a theater in Los Angeles, when I was twenty-two. It’s how I got my Equity card. I played the maid. And my first TV role was on Mad About You, I think…it’s been a while!”
TrekToday: “How did you get cast on Chuck?”
BF: “I was the 2nd choice. I auditioned; it went well, and it was down to the wire whether I’d get it or not. I was disappointed when I didn’t, and then I forgot all about it. And then, months later, I got the call from the Casting Director [that] the person who was originally cast dropped out … whoosh, they came back to me instead of starting all over again!”
TrekToday: “Do you know what happened to the original General Beckman?”
BF: “Oh, I’m not really at liberty to talk about that. Stuff happens in people’s lives. She worked with my husband on The Nine, and he really liked her a lot. It might have had something to do with the fact that she was trying to be bi-coastal, and she needed to spend more time in NYC than Chuck would have permitted, but that would just be me speculating. As my husband says, though, ‘it’s an ill wind that blows no one good.'”
TrekToday: “What was your favorite part of being on Chuck?”
BF: “The paycheck. Never ask an actor that. Only kidding. I had my own little crew, kinda, because we filmed the scenes I was in without anybody else from the cast around. I was on a monitor, mostly all by myself, if you recall, and the rest of the cast, when they were doing their part of the scene, would actually watch what I’d already filmed (sometimes, anyway). That mini-crew became a little mini-family of mine. Does it sound obsequious to say, too, how much I love the fans; who’ve always been so kind and interested in my career?”
TrekToday: “Do you have any good behind-the-scenes stories from Chuck?”
BF: “You’d have to get me liquored-up to tell the really juicy ones … I did have a particular fondness for the scene in which I got to fire a shoulder-fired missile. And I loved Linda Hamilton and getting to spend time with Stan Lee.”
TrekToday: “Who was your favorite guest star on Chuck?”
BF: “Linda Hamilton. Hands down.”
TrekToday: “Did you enjoy your guest appearance on Star Trek: Enterprise?”
BF: “Yes, except for the part where my husband showed up – Dr. Phlox, that is – to heckle me from behind the camera (this [was] during the scene where I got killed.) He liked to see me get shot. He’d chortle and say ‘ooh, shoot her again, shoot her again!'”
TrekToday: “Are you a science fiction fan?”
BF: “[I’m] more of a fantasy fan. [I] loved The Princess Bride, and most recently The Magician’s Trilogy (not so much the TV series, which takes too many liberties, but terrific books)!”
TrekToday: “What is the worst acting job you’ve ever had?”
BF: “Without A Trace – one of the younger actors, who considered himself a real card, made faces at me and intentionally messed up or changed his lines on my coverage … an unprofessional and unpleasant person. Hopefully he’s grown up.”
TrekToday: “What projects/shows do you have coming up?”
BF: “Recurring as a vigorous grandma on a show yet to premiere called Dwight In Shining Armor – Feb? March? [It’s] on BYU TV so it may not be available for all to see … a cute show, though, about a young man who awakens a sleeping medieval-era princess from an enchanted sleep and must assume ‘guardianship’ over her (and deal with the magical villains he’s also ‘brought back to life’).
TrekToday: “What one role do you wish you had gotten?”
BF: “Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention.”
TrekToday: “What do you enjoy doing outside of acting?”
BF: “I volunteer for The Hollywood Food Coalition; and while it’s questionable whether this is what I enjoy doing the most outside of acting, it’s what I give a lot of my time to. I help run a team of volunteers who rescue food from all over the city to help feed the poor and the homeless … and I’m also on the board of directors with my husband John.”
Speaking of her husband; later there will be a John Billingsley Q&A on TrekToday.