John Billingsley is known best for his role of Doctor Phlox on “Star Trek: Enterprise”. He also co-stars in the recent “Trade of Innocents”, playing the sleazy Malcolm Eddery. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with John about his various roles and what has been his most rewarding role.
Mike Gencarelli: Tell us how you got involved with the film “Trade of Innocents”
John Billingsley: It was a pretty standard audition process. The scene I did was one that ended up not making it into the final cut of the film. When we were working on it I had a strange suspicion that the scene might not make it in to the film. After meeting with the directed I heard back about a month later that I had gotten the part.
MG: How did you prepare to play such a sleazy guy, Malcolm Eddery?
JB: I have played more than my share of creeps, child molesters and psychotics through the years. I hate to say it wasn’t an extraordinary stretch for me to play this role. Ultimately anytime you are playing a character that is bent you really aren’t doing anything much other than saying what their particular obsession or interest is. Everyone has an obsessive nature so all you have to do is stretch the envelope a little bit.
MG: The film was shot on location, tell us about your experience?
JB: That was great! I had never been to Bangkok before. It was a fascinating city that has this strange blend of first worldism and third worldism. There were high rise buildings mixed in with small run downhouses. My role gave me quite a bit of down time. I would generally shoot a day then have some time off. I had a chance to explore the entire city. I am a big fan of cities and getting to see how they work. They have a really interesting transportation system there that is also pretty cheap.
MG: How can you reflect looking back on your experience playing Doctor Phlox on “Star Trek: Enterprise” and how it compares to your following work?
JB: My role in “Star Trek” is probably the closest role I have had to myself. He was an even keeled person with a fair amount of philosophical attachment. Except for the rubber head in many respect that role was probably the most comfortable I have ever been. After playing that role for 4 years I wasn’t too bereft when it went off the air.
MG: How was it returning to “True Blood” this season as the Coroner?
JB: Surprising! The role was never particularly dimensional in any way but I did like the paycheck. They were nice people to work for. My character disappeared sometime in the 3rd season so I was pleasantly surprised when they contacted me. I was a little puzzled in a way as they brought me back but didn’t necessarily use me. I have a feeling that there may have been a back story there. I kind of thought my character was going to be the guy behind the Obama killings. When I went in for the first wardrobe fitting they wanted to fit me for camouflage gear. I asked them what it was about and they told me I was going to be involved with a terrorist group later in the year. Somewhere along the line they must have changed their mind. I was a little disappointed. I did get a death scene though.
MG: Looking at your career to date, what would you say has been your most rewarding role?
JB: The most fun/challenging role was probably one that no one ever saw. I did a play called “The Seagull” in Seattle which was great. Movie wise I did a film with Denzel Washington called “Out of Time” which was also great. I liked being on “The Nine” as well. The lady who played my wife on that show is actually my wife. Each thing you do offers its own particular reward. In the end I have to pick “Star Trek” as it lasted the longest. That role changed my life.