Billingsley On Revealing All About Phlox

By Caillan
March 22, 2003 - 10:08 AM

See Also: 'A Night In Sickbay' Episode Guide

With his character remaining essentially an enigma to audiences, John Billingsley (Doctor Phlox) is surprised as anyone when the Enterprise producers decide to reveal more information about the Denobulan physician — and that's the way he likes it.

"Fans want to know more about Phlox and Denobulans, but writers have been sparing in their details, as they should," Billingsley said in issue 142 of the Star Trek Communicator (via his official web site). "I suspect it's a gradual process with Phlox. You don't want to go too far, too fast."

As Phlox is the first-ever Denobulan to appear on Star Trek, the writers have had the chance to develop the race from the ground up. And from the perspective of the human officers on board the Enterprise NX-01, Phlox is a very odd creature indeed. "For instance, I have a long tongue, something like 16 or 17 inches. I have to take care to groom my toenails. I have three wives but am estranged from some of my children. And that is about all they've revealed so far."

Earlier this season Phlox had a chance to bond with his human commanding officer in "A Night In Sickbay". While the writers planned an Odd Couple-style outing, Billingsley dreamt up the most shocking Trek scene since Neelix took a bath in Voyager's "Caretaker".

"They billed the show as Captain Archer pushing the envelope of his sexuality — but I wanted to push the show in a direction unlike any it has gone. I said 'Well, I have three wives — what if I had three... well, other things?' [Co-executive producer] Chris Black joked back and said I could not have three because they were planning for me to have five! I envisioned this scene where the crew walks into sickbay and unexpectedly finds me naked — and their expressions range from shock to astonishment and awe," the actor joked. "Somehow, I don't think it will come to pass."

Although he recognised Phlox can be a source of levity, Billingsley said he would like to see other aspects of his character explored, especially the doctor's relationship with T'Pol. "Phlox should not be all comic relief," he said. "There is a serious side to explore in Phlox. He is an anthropologist, someone who is immersed into alien culture and cut off from his own people. How would that change you and your ability to relate to your own culture again? We could explore that down the road. He wants to understand humans and their feelings so much. And the only person on board with whom he can discuss those feelings is the only person on board who refuses to talk about feelings at all."

The full interview can be found in issue 142 of the Star Trek Communicator. Alternatively, a transcript is available at

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