John Billingsley – Dr. Phlox on Star Trek Enterprise
Today we are joined by none other than John Billingsley who played Dr. Phlox on Star Trek Enterprise!
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Interview scheduled by Jeffery Haas
Theme music by Ardus
John Billingsley – Video Interview
[00:00:00] Jeff: Hello listeners, a spoiler country today on the show, we have a very special guest, Mr. John Billingsley, how’s it going, sir?
John Bilingsley: It is going pretty good. Damn well. 35% of America is vaccinated.
Jeff: I’m glad to be one of them. I’m double vaccinated with my journal and I’m feeling good about the whole thing.
John Bilingsley: Me too.
Here’s to the VA. Here’s the vaccination passport. Let’s wait in into an immediately controversial issue. Passport. I’m all for it.
Jeff: Well, hopefully not controversial to anyone who actually listens to us because
John Bilingsley: I wouldn’t think so, but you know, it’s going to be of course, a point of controversy. Indeed.
Jeff: He is, you know, good God.
So, which was yours. Everyone wants to know. Was it, Pfizer was a, Madonna was a Johnson and Johnson.
John Bilingsley: I was Madonna. And uh, of course I set a couple of days aside thinking that I was going to have the kick in the ass at some people have complained about, but absolutely fine. No aftereffects whatsoever. I think when you’re old, you know, your immune system has been battered and beaten and kicked around that it can’t really [00:01:00] quite rally the way the youngsters immune systems do from what I’m experiencing, from what I’m told, it sounds like the younger you are, the more likely it’s going to kick your ass.
That second shot.
Jeff: Well, I will say I got the magenta vaccine as well. This was back in February and I was knocked on my ass for about. 40 hours, I would say.
John Bilingsley: Yeah, that’s what I hear. More and more people. I was fully expecting to be knocked on my ass and then nothing. I was like, Oh, fabulous. So, yeah. So yeah, we actually had a group of guys that I play poker with.
We are all old, we’ve all been doubly vaccinated. We’ve all gone through the requisite and you know, it’s been at least two weeks for most of us. So we got together the other night, every single one of us was, was vaccinated. And it was like, Oh, I just wanted to kiss them all. Even though I’m not attracted to any of them, because I could on, we had beer, we hung out.
We were still outside. You know, I, I guess it’s going to be weird. Old habits are going to die hard to have that sense of like, [00:02:00] Oh, remember this when it was Mike it’s
Jeff: back. Well, I made the choice. I got my second vaccine during February Vicki school vacation. Like I said, I’m, I’m gonna teach for anyone who doesn’t know that will by now who listened to the show.
And I thought to myself, I got knocked on my ass. I was like, I really wish I had done this during the school week. So I could take in a couple days off, ruined my vacation,
John Bilingsley: my Mrs. And I both got it. We were on the same same schedule and and, and she didn’t have any aftereffects either. So yeah.
And because we taken two days off was like, well, how do you want it?
Jeff: That’s awesome. I still wonder whether they still don’t seem like they have a lot information on whether or not you can still carry as a vaccinated person.
John Bilingsley: They are now saying that it appears to be much less likely that you’re a carrier.
So, yeah, I mean, and as I said, just to be clear, In the get together where I felt like kissing all the guys, all of us had been vaccinated. Yeah. I mean, I’m still a masker and as [00:03:00] six feet away or only eat outside or, and, you know, and of course the other great unknown is the extent to which the vaccine is going to prove efficacious against some of these awful variants.
The variant coming up from Brazil, which is unfortunately
Jeff: terrifying. Africa England. Unfortunately,
John Bilingsley: the English variant is now actually the primary virus here in America. So that’s, that’s not even a variant anymore.
Michigan, I think particularly has been hit hard by it. So yes, it is. That is a concern.
But I think the Brazilian one right now is the one that really is, is to me kind of the most gulpy because you know, balsa NRO is, is is a clown show and doing absolutely nothing down there. And it’s really marching up South America. That’s where it’s like dope. Mostly. We’ll
Jeff: see. Well, my wife has yet to be fully vaccinated.
So, and someone who [00:04:00] has, she has asthma a lot. So I’m a little worried about taking home to her, but I’m hoping that the other bearings a little bit like the flu, where if they’re vaccinated, even it’s not from the strain that you’re affecting it, it should be far more survivable.
John Bilingsley: Exactly. And that is the thing is that, is that even if you contract COVID, it’s so much of what the driver of, of all of this has been keep people out of ICU.
And that is, is proven at least here in California, for instance to be very, very true. We, we suddenly the danger of no ICU beds is gone. Yeah, we’re not seeing hospitalizations. We’re not seeing deaths. So, you know, worst case scenario, if you have the vaccine and you get flu like symptoms, Hey we’ve all gotten the flu lot.
Jeff: can live with that. I, in my opinion, the important thing is, can you survive? If you can survive it, you know what, screw it. If you get, if you’re [00:05:00] sick, you’re sick, the vaccine keeps you surviving it, then you know, what do it? There’s no
John Bilingsley: reason not to no, some people who have long COVID and that’s pretty fucking awful.
Just, it’s like a what’s that off chronic fatigue center, you know, months and months and months, and you’re still basically barely able to get out of bed. So I, I still think vigilance and, and, and carefulness is
Jeff: gotta be the watch word, but and I would also say this year,
John Bilingsley: Joe Biden, hip hip, hooray.
Jeff: And I would say to the quicker everyone gets vaccinated. The last chance of new variants popping up. The fact that it’s in the population, as long as it has been, has opened the door for further, further variance, which is what’s the big problem, actually.
John Bilingsley: Yeah. And I love it because you know, there are people that are going to be coming on saying, I can’t wait to hear John Billingsley comment epidemiologist, and here they are.
Jeff: Well, yeah. As Dr. Flocks, he plays, if he plays one on TV, it counts.
John Bilingsley: That’s true. That’s true. It took me a year and a half to learn how to pronounce endocrine system correctly. It was like endocrine, endocrine vendor. [00:06:00] I couldn’t get that word.
Jeff: Well, hopefully they wrote that out. The script for you to do you a favor.
John Bilingsley: contraire. Oh, country. Once the producers get wind of the fact that you can handle polysyllabic language, they’re throwing the goddamn
Jeff: you bastards.
John Bilingsley: So. Well, that has been the curse. And the blessing of my career is that people perceive me as being a brainiac. So they cast me as brainiacs, but I’m not really a brainiacs. And now I’ve got to handle all of this kind of like gobbledygook. It’s like, Oh my God.
Jeff: So, I guess some people wonder is Shakespeare more difficult to perform or the G tech jargon that you’re stuck with when doing a scifi program?
John Bilingsley: Oh, well they each present different challenges. No, I mean, certainly Shakespeare because of the complexity of the font you have to carry. It’s not just the language. It’s that Shakespeare is extraordinary unrivaled ability to weave a multitude of different [00:07:00] ideas and associations and themes and metaphors into a single speech requires a tremendous set of skills until you understand it, to speak it clearly to make sure that you’re speaking it with an appropriate pace so that it’s dramatically complex and legitimate.
That is coming from a human being who supposedly thinking this on the fly, but it’s still comprehensible. That’s what makes the great writers so great. And so very, very difficult to do justice to.
Jeff: So, how have you performed Shakespeare on TV or
John Bilingsley: film? No. Nope, not on TV, not on film. You know, there, there’s a fairly limited audience here in the States, at least for classical theater on film.
And my career never got to the elevation where I would be thought of for roles in those kinds of plays. Anyway you know, it’s going to go to extremely well-known and prestigious [00:08:00] classical performers in those few instances where those kinds of things are going to get made. But I did, I did have a stage career for, for some time, so I certainly have, you know, some passing familiarity with most of the
I’ve interviewed some people from star Trek, Armand Zimmerman JG hustler. And there’s so many of them who’ve done Shakespeare theater. And it’s amazing thing because I don’t think people who perform in Saifai get the recognition they deserve for the skill of acting it takes to do it. And it’s amazing how many, very highly skilled theater actors and Shakespeare and actors have now moved have done star Trek.
John Bilingsley: Yeah. I mean, you know, I don’t know whether I’d tell earliest subscribed to this, but I will say that certainly I’ve heard this theorized that, you know, particularly when you were having to act through prosthetics, that you do have to have certain skills that are classical skills, your addiction needs to be extremely strong.
There ain’t no mumbling, you know, [00:09:00] when you’ve got a rubber head on hard enough. And yeah, so I think there is a certain kind of, and again, this is something that I’ve heard dark crack actors speak to, then you have to have a certain quality of theatricality. To be able to as say an alien and you know, not to say that the people who aren’t playing the human beings on star Trek, aren’t doing wonderful work, but if you’re an actor and you’re playing a cling on a watch from Nicole at an, a Dingle dongle and yada yada.
There is a there is a, a level of craft you have to have to be able to bring those, those beans to life, I think. Yes. And yeah. So,
Jeff: so w when you’re performing we’ll go into more star Trek later, but yeah,
John Bilingsley: easy period. Doesn’t matter what the fuck it is. It’s, it’s it’s a wonderful thing. I love doing it.
I’m glad I got to spend my life doing it, but it ain’t no walk in the park. So w when, when
Jeff: you’re, when you were, when you’re practicing to play, when you’re playing doctor flocks [00:10:00] and you’re practicing with AHPRA settings and with pro status, where there is there things that you did without, before you put on the makeup that you realized you couldn’t perform that way, once the prosthetics were
John Bilingsley: added to you.
No, but I was lucky in that respect. I mean, our, our men, a perfect illustration, he had a mouthpiece, so anybody who’s got or as they call it an appliance, anybody who’s got an appliance that you have to learn how to talk around. There’s a certain amount of practice. And of course, once you’ve worn it for awhile and you’ve gotten acclimated, it becomes easier.
But out of the gate, you have to learn how to enunciate and how to elongate perhaps, or elaborate your words based on the fact that you’ve got a big goddamn denture in your yap. And that can be true for, I think that was true for the cling ons. If you ever played a vampire. Yeah, no, I did not have a [00:11:00] mouthpiece.
So, although the appliances, nose, forehead, chin ears could get a little sticky and it could get a little, a little hot, perhaps I did not ever feel any discomfort and I never felt like it was affecting my ability to use my facial expressions. So
Jeff: when did you know you wanted to be an actor? Like when did that acting bug bite into you?
John Bilingsley: I’ve told this story so many times, I’m afraid I’ve been not like a podcast slot of late. So, you know, you’re like sloppy fifths. I hate to say it. So no worries. So for those folks who are like, I’ve heard that story a hundred times now I should probably change it up. But in fifth grade I had moved from Louisiana to Connecticut.
My family moved me. I had no say in the matter, and I had this thick Southern drawl and and I had a list too. And so needless to say, I was, you know, ostracized by all the brutish, Northern children who wanted to beat that accent out [00:12:00] of me. And I, I thought of myself as that class pariah. However, I read even as a child, I was a big reader.
So they had a mandatory set of auditions for the class, play a Christmas, Carol. And I was about the only kid that could pick up the. Script and read it aloud and make any sense of it, much less put any emotional qualities into it. So I was cast as screwed and for one brief shining moment, I got to experience what it was like to be a star.
And from that moment on purely through the crass consideration of, you know, I want the glory, I want the notice I decided to be an actor. And then my parents were graciously, sent me off to study with some acting teachers in New York. And and I fell in love with the work for the work’s sake. So from a very early age, I was pretty bent on being an actor.
Jeff: So is it, is it an indictment or a school system that none of the other kids could handle the script for
John Bilingsley: the Christmas catalog? Well, as a teacher, forgive me, but yes, I will indict the school system. [00:13:00] I want to dive to school system per se. I will indict our culture. I will indict our society. I will indict anti intellectual ism.
Generally I died Yahoo ism. I think there’s a great swath of the powers that be in this world who had just assume see people kept in relative ignorance because it makes for a compliant cheap labor force.
Jeff: I agree with you a hundred percent. This is one of the issues where a lot of people are anti college is not because of the college itself.
It’s what it’s, the liberal ideas are teaching you that they don’t want you to know. Yeah,
John Bilingsley: yeah, absolutely. So, you know, no, I was very, very lucky. My, I mean, so much, one of the reasons I’m. I spent a lot of my time working for not-for-profits it’s because I really feel like there, but for the grace of fucking God go, I, I had smart parents who loved to read.
And from the time I was a little kid, I would go and sit in the living room on the floor at the base of floor to ceiling bookshelves. And just think I want to read those books. I [00:14:00] didn’t really understand what reading meant, but I saw my parents buried in books all the time, and I knew how much enjoyment it gave them.
And that wall had such totemic power. To me, it’s like the way some other kid might bow down to fucking, you know, the greatest statue of blah, blah, blah. I, we had no, we had no religious iconography in my, in my house, but that bookshelf was the be all and the end all for me. So I learned to read at a very early age and, and, you know, I don’t fault the public school system, but it was my parents that made me fall in love with reading.
And I’m much more, I would say an autodidact than I am a product of a, you know, a great education.
Jeff: I think one of the best gifts you can have are intelligent parents. My father and mother were educated people. My father, the reason I do writing is that my father watched my father write in the computer and I was like, I’m going to do that.
I’m like my dad and on my readings. Cause they wanted to read it. This [00:15:00] is the best gift you can have growing up as intellectual
John Bilingsley: parents. And they wanted to read to me. And that was the other thing is that my parents read to me you know, from an early age, my mother would read me stories and I, I so wanted to become a reader.
It was, you know, and still is if I look back on my life and there was one thing I would say. That, that, that I’m most grateful for. It’s that I learned to love to read at a very early age. It has, I wanted to be a librarian. I wanted to live in a library. So, so
Jeff: you later attended Bennington college. What, what was your area of study
John Bilingsley: in Bennington?
Yeah. And ironically, I, at the time when I was in my late late teens, I mean, I, you know, I always kind of had a, you know, putting face. So I thought, is there really a career for me in the arts? I don’t know a guy looks like me. My other interest was in writing. So Bennington college had one. It had a lot of girls that was my third [00:16:00] interest was that I’m going, God damn it.
So, I applied to a bunch of girls, schools got into Bennington. They had a tremendous writing faculty, including Bernard Malamud Nicholas Delbanco Steven, Sandy, George Garrett, particularly Malamud so the good news was, Oh my God. I get to study with some of these great writers in relatively small classes.
My class was, but there was six of us. The bad news is when you’re that age and you’re studying with great writers. You just it’s limp Dick syndrome. It’s like studying, acting with Olivia, you know, you would come away feeling like why aren’t, why aren’t I can’t act oddly. My reaction to studying with great writers was it made me more convinced I should be an actor.
Jeff: So as a backup plan, you chose writing that, that, that sounds like a bigger risk than acting.
John Bilingsley: Oh, you know what David mammon says. If you have a, if you have a fallback position, you will fall back [00:17:00] on it. No, I never had a fallback position. And every, every I frustrated my parents to no end one. They wanted me to go to college and I said, I want to go to college.
I want to go act. I want to go to New York. I want to go act. They forced me to go to college. So I compromised with him by saying, all right, send me to a girl’s school so I can get laid a place of good acting program and no grades. And I’ll do it.
Jeff: What’s interesting. Stand to take. I need to get laid before I
John Bilingsley: Oh yeah, that was, that was number one with a bullet.
As I suspect it is in every 18 year old virgins mind. It’s like, I don’t care. I don’t care what I learn. I want to get laid.
Jeff: I, I never, I never tried that with my, I should’ve tried that my parents sent me to a school with all girls and I promise I will graduate. I
John Bilingsley: didn’t actually, I didn’t rub my parents puss in it, but at a certain point it became apparent.
It was like, I was applying to like Vassar and Connecticut college and Bennington. It’s like, I was, what are all these schools have in common? It’s like the Dartmouth catalog came was like, I burned it in the fireplace. [00:18:00] There there’s like one woman in the entire school. But then when I went out, when I got out of college you know, I started acting, my parents were like, you’ve gotta take a word processing course.
You’ve got to, it’s like, no, I’m not, I am not, I will live on pice. I am an actor period.
Jeff: So it’s an appearance for it.
John Bilingsley: They were there. They were they were extremely supportive in the sense that they always loved me and they always cared about me and they didn’t want me to suffer. I think they, and I learned this in later life.
They were fucking petrified. That I had chosen to make my life as an actor. And the cool thing was, you know, I always knew that they were there. If I was in a pinch and I, I was never poor in the sense that I knew I had this, you know, a great safety net them, but I also was a theater actor, and I learned to live on, on, on nothing.
I knew the stores that gave away free samples. I knew who to scrounge a beer [00:19:00] from. I always live with roommates. The rent was next to nothing. I didn’t care about possessions. I didn’t care about what I wore. I have to say one of the things I always sort of, you know, if I’m ever asked, I’m not asked all that much anymore.
I’m not as much of an actress I used to be. But when I used to be invited to go to schools or blah, blah, blah, I’d say one of the great things you can do is learn to love. To not give a fuck about the shit that other people give a fuck about. You don’t need a car. You do not need a fancy pants suit. You do not need 90% of what the world thinks.
It needs to be happy that then you can act because then you can spend all the time that other people are working, doing what you love acting.
Jeff: So what, obviously there’s a great risk to pursuing the career of acting the percentage of those and stuff. So. Is lower than maybe a lot of other professions what’s the risk Realty or did, were you just that confident that you would be the one who’s
John Bilingsley: successful combination of things? [00:20:00]
It it’s, it’s there all sorts of ways you can have an acting career. It depends upon what satisfies you. I mean, I, I started theater companies. I would found that work enormously rewarding. I didn’t make a penny. I was an acting teacher. I did regional theater. I did small house theater where you might make 150 bucks a week.
All of that work was great and wonderful fun. And I would not have. I would not have become a better actor if I hadn’t done it, I just didn’t make any money. But if I, I defined my life in my own terms as not needing a lot of money. Gotcha. Now, in fairness, I reached a point in my late thirties when my first marriage ended and I thought, yeah, I don’t know if I want to be an artistic director anymore.
And I really don’t want to teach acting anymore. When I had to ask some questions about how do I generate more revenue as an actor. And that got me into film and television and, and, you know, once I started having success in those mediums and I made a lot of money. Yeah. And then I started having a radically different life.
[00:21:00] I still feel like. Not my values. Haven’t significantly changed. I still don’t really care about a lot of the things that other people care about. I don’t, I don’t, I, I wouldn’t know what the fuck to do with a Lamborghini, but one of the reasons I spent a lot of time working in the social services is because I, I, for many years knew what it was like to not have a pot to piss in.
And I knew that if I didn’t have my parents to fall back on, as I did, I could very well and ended up in situations that a lot of people ended up on a, you know, end up in where it’s like, I don’t know. I, I can’t, I can’t make the money to pay the rent. I mean, we live in Los Angeles with a huge, huge homeless population.
And, you know, a number of those people are mentally ill and none of those people have drug and alcohol issues, but a number of those people simply can’t afford to live in one of the most expensive cities in the country.
Jeff: I mean, a great gift is the ability to self-reflect upon oneself and one’s means do you think that helps you as well as an accurate to think.
Look at yourself and think of how you could connect to the characters that you’re performing. By being able to say, this is who I [00:22:00] am, this is what I know of myself, so I can bring that to it.
John Bilingsley: It’s the greatest gift. I mean, I was an acting teacher for many years and you know, frankly, it’s like nine out of 10 guys that come through a class.
They’re not going to become professional actors. But what it does do the study of acting is it teaches you empathy. It says, put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Really deeply, not just in the kind of casual way we say, well, you know, want to think about walking a mile and the other person’s shoes.
That’s not just five minutes. I’d like you to, yeah, that’d be a bummer. It’s actually delving into what it would genuinely be like to live in another person’s life by working on texts, in which that experience is dropped down to your gut, what is it like to want to kill somebody? What is it like to have your heart deeply broken knowing you’ll never repair it again?
What is it like to, what is it like to, what is it like to, it’s a great gift as a human being to understand what it [00:23:00] really means to, to experience empathy.
Jeff: So empathy is the difference between playing a character and inhabiting a character. Would you say.
John Bilingsley: Me, if I’m understanding the distinction you’re trying to draw.
Yeah. I mean, I, you know, character from the way you phrase it, you mean that as sort of a pejorative as if that’s not really as deep a, an expression of the work as inhabiting a character, but right. But there is a reality, which is that you have two obligations, one, you have an obligation to draw as deep, a personal connection to the material as you possibly can.
The other obligation is to make sure you’re telling the story which requires craft. And that’s where the, the actual ability to not let your personal experience get in the way of your professional obligation. You have a professional obligation to be heard in the back row. You have a professional obligation for your addiction to actually be legitimate.
You have a professional obligation to make sure that you are. Not over stressing [00:24:00] things to the detriment of the text, simply because your personal experience is Odie.
Jeff: Do you think you said when you went to Bennington college, you focus on writing. Is, did that help you as well as an actor? Cause I assumed
John Bilingsley: that read reading has a re reading has no doubt.
I mean, you know, not, everybody’s going to want to go to an acting class. But to me, if I had to say to somebody, you know, what can I do to become a better human being? I would say, read, read, read, read, read. Because every book is a human being presenting himself to you. And in the end, your willingness to grapple with every possible story under the sun.
That’s what empathy is. That’s where it comes from.
Jeff: That’s awesome. I don’t think I’ve ever heard it phrased that way before that. That’s brilliant. Good job.
John Bilingsley: I don’t know that that, that to me is I, I I’m, my wife makes fun of me because I’m, I’m a, you know, there are people who say well, I read a book [00:25:00] and if I don’t like it after 20 or 30 pages, I check it because it’s, you know, there’s so many books.
You don’t have that much time. Why waste? My, my lived experience though, is that there are books that I, I have had to wrestle. To the ground because they’re hard and they’re deep. You can’t read Proust thinking that you’re going to fall in love with it. After the first five or 10 pages, the first 30 pages are all about the experience of I’ve often said it’s the worst book to try and read in bed because the first 30 pages of proofs are about a guy who thinks that he’s actually fallen, you know, he’s awake, but in fact, he’s dreaming that he’s awake and he wakes up and he realizes that he was actually dreaming.
It’s really hard not to fall asleep when you’re reading that you have to, you have to perse or fucking veer, but at the end of this mammoth project, that is remembrance of things past, it’s one of the greatest and most beautiful and intensely moving experiences you’ll ever have as a reader. It’s true for so much.
That is great. It’s true for Faulkner. It’s true for. George Elliot, [00:26:00] it’s true for all the great writers. It, they, they ain’t, they ain’t beach reads and there’s, and there’s a place for beach reads. There’s a place for a great spy novel. There’s a place for great mystery novel. There’s a place for, for, you know, I don’t, I don’t want to sound like I’m a book snob, but some of what really deepens your understanding of what it is to be human is reading a great writer.
Great writers. Ain’t
Jeff: easy. Well, you’re talking to an English teacher. So be as NABI as you want about reading, I agree with you a hundred percent.
John Bilingsley: Yeah. I mean, you know, I, I, I’m a, I’m a great one to say, you know, for me like kids, I mean, when I was a kid, I read Ellery Queen’s mystery magazine and analog and fantasy and science fiction.
I had 20,000 comic books. I read pulp magazines and I read some good books too. I just read, I think the best thing you can do to a kid is say, read, just read. I don’t care what it is. Just read, read, read, read, read, you’ll develop your taste. You know, once you fall in love with reading, you’ll develop your
I agree with you a hundred percent. [00:27:00] I grew up when the first thing I read as a kid was comic books and I still read comics and you know what. I don’t care. That’s reading this literature that got me reading now, Shakespeare and Poe and Donta, and all the grades started with reading Batman. I don’t care.
John Bilingsley: I know. I know. And it’s funny cause I’m like 60 years old and some of the stories that so are deep, deeply, deeply ingrained in my consciousness, our memories of individual comic books. You, when, when yes, when Superman Lois lane goes blind, as Superman marries her, and then he comes into contact with red kryptonite, he becomes ugly.
Lois lane gets her sight back and he’s still so terrible that he, he ostracizes himself to an asteroid cause he’s too ugly to live with beautiful Lois lane. Why do I fucking remember that? Like every panel of that comic book, I remember.
Jeff: But it’s amazing what sticks with you that somehow somewhere deep in your brain meeting effect on you and [00:28:00] there you’d been cheating
John Bilingsley: because of it.
Yeah, exactly. And, and, and, you know, just as equally, I can remember these, you know, extraordinary, complicated, dense books that I’ve loved too, but they, they, all of it is in me. All of it made me me. So, but, but yeah, if you can take an acting class, well, one, if you’re gonna take an acting class, you’re going to have to read, because there ain’t no way to do justice to a good play without reading it, reading it, reading it, reading it.
I’ve never met an actor really. Honestly, I’ve really never met an actor who was a good actor. Didn’t love to read.
Jeff: So I read is it was your first onscreen of parents in the movie, seven hours to judgment,
John Bilingsley: Probably, yeah, I, it kind of blurs back in the early eighties, I’d moved to Seattle. There were a couple of films that I did more or less around the same time, but some of them were kind of like, you know, local actors, vanity projects.
So that probably was the first thing I did that actually was like you know, studio, film, terrible
[00:29:00] Jeff: movie though. So it started the, the, the, the famous Akobo bridges bridges. Are you able to watch a great actor when you’re starting out and see what he was doing to make him great. And were you able to study him as an actor?
John Bilingsley: Not in that particular instance because one, I, I, I, I make fun of myself all the time and I can point to my oeuvre and there, I feel like it’s like corn niblets that are picked out of a turd. I’ve been in some
Jeff: cruddy movies down the years.
John Bilingsley: And with all due deference to bow bridges who, who has become a marvelous actor, that, that was one of the stinkier Watts.
And I was, I was miscast as a a kind of tough pawn shop owner. And I was like 24 years old. I was like eight pounds sopping wet. And I was pulling out this rifle and saying, I’m to get you chasing him around. There was no, there, there was, there was, I won’t say I was [00:30:00] self-conscious, but I will say I was very full of my own need to play act.
I had enough, you know,
Jeff: Yeah. Well, was there an accurate before you kind of broke out and became, you know, John Bellsy that we all know, was there an actor that you looked at while you proof that you performed, but then said, I’m going to model a bit of my style after what he’s doing?
John Bilingsley: I don’t think I probably would put it like that because, I mean, I don’t think it’s the, the challenge of learning how to act is learning how to absorb some principles that seem really simple, but, but aren’t one of the key principles is you are always in action.
The idea of acting as what are you doing? What are you fighting for? What are you trying to achieve? Why is it important to you? What are you going after? Always put it in active terms so that you’re always involved in the pursuit of something. Cause it keeps you out of your head. Because most of the time, what happens when acting goes bad [00:31:00] is you’re worrying about the effect.
You’re worried about what you’re trying to look like. You’re worrying about manifesting an emotional state. It sounds simple, but it’s really hard to think in active terms, because action is actually extremely specific. The best actors are extremely specific beat to beat, to beat based on what their action is.
So you don’t, you don’t really help yourself thinking about, Oh, look at that actor. I’m going to try and, and, and in any way, copy him or think about what effects he achieves. How can I achieve them too? You really just have to keep practicing. The concept of identifying clearly what the action is in a scene and personalizing it so you can get behind it and feel committed to wanting to achieve it.
And the other, the other, while I’m on this, no one ever asks me acting centric questions. [00:32:00] No worries. The other thing that I think is key is, is moment to moment. Moment to moment is really hard. It’s very human. It’s very human for us to say, Oh, I fucked up and you start obsessing and you start thinking of I fucked up.
Oh, that beat. Oh my God. I should have, Oh, I, I meant to, well, now you’ve just fucked up the next 10 beats, you know, the next 10 little moments and now you’re really panicked. Oh my God. Now I fucked up this whole scene. Oh my God. I fucked up the whole fucking scene. Now I’m going to fuck up the whole play.
And pretty soon it’s like the worst performance of your life being in the moment is so very hard. It’s, it’s harder in a way on stage because on camera, when you’ve kind of fucked up a moment and you feel you’ve gotten in your head, you can always kind of like. You know, fuck right, cut. Let’s go back. I fucked that up.
I’m off. You can’t do that on stage on stage it, you just got to go and in all candor, one of the reasons I’m not really much of a stage actor [00:33:00] anymore is because I came to quite love film and TV acting because I found it easier to be in the moment because I didn’t, I felt like it was, there’s a safety net.
Jeff: So as an actor, but when you’re in the role, then are you kind of, I’m trying to the best way to phrase it. You’re not. You’re not quite thinking while you’re performing or are you deeply still thinking during the performance it’s
John Bilingsley: it’s, it’s, it’s a two it’s like you’re driving two cars at the same time.
You know, you, you know, there there’s some part of your conscious brain is cognizant that it’s a performance you have to, because you have to hit your marks. You have to you know, perform a set of physical actions. You have words you have memorized. It’s not improvisational, but another part of you is, is able to really give over to the experience you were having in the moment based on what you’re getting in the moment from your acting partner.
And it [00:34:00] does feel like the so-called illusion of the first time when both of those things are happening, it does feel. I don’t know if transportive is the right word, but it does feel very, it’s a very blissful sensation. You feel like you’re, it’s like when you successfully patting your stomach and your head at the same time, or doing, you know, or juggling or doing anything that requires you to do something extremely demanding and physically arduous that involves your whole fucking beam.
And you know that your brain and your body are in sync weirdly. And that’s what it feels like. It can be very hard because sometimes you’re so in it that it’s like, ah, Charlie, cut, cut, cut. Hey, Charlie, you didn’t match. You know, if you’re on camera in a scene, you do a master. And in the master, you’re having a sandwich and you’re having the bites where, you know at the end of line, a at the end of line B and at the end of the line, see, when, when you go to the car closeup, you have to have the sandwich, you have to eat it at the same, in the [00:35:00] same spot.
Otherwise, they can’t cut back and forth between the master and the closeup. So there’s a technical capacity that you have to have. While being in the moment
Jeff: that it’s just, when, when you really think about it, I think a lot of people don’t as fans and always appreciate just the complexity of what you’re watching on screen when it’s done, when it’s done well.
I mean, once again, you’re talking about yourself in the moment and being there, but you also have to. Act against another person has to be in their moment and somehow find this, this way of sinking up each other in a way that it’s probably hard for those not actors who fully understand
John Bilingsley: it’s where you have to have a very deep deep, I mean, obviously on television, you know, in a lot of rehearsal time frequently, the scripts are tissue thin.
So it’s not as if you know you’re doing Shakespeare, but still you do have to have a real understanding of what the scene is designed to achieve in a way, if you [00:36:00] are riding a boat down a, down the Rapids, but you are contained by the banks of the river. So, so there is freedom in the ride. But the constraint is the text.
You know, you don’t get the fucking just kind of like, Oh, in this moment, I’m going to start to cry. It’s like, no, no, that ain’t, that ain’t that ain’t the journey, man, that ain’t, you know, that ain’t, that ain’t possible for you. So, so the, the behavior that arises, it has to be honest, it has to be real. And, and there may be occasions when all of a sudden a set a behavior emerges that you would not think would have been legitimized by the text, but that is in the moment.
But generally speaking, you’re operating with constraints imposed by the text. So there’s freedom, but there’s there’s with great freedom comes great responsibility. It’s responsible to the text. So
Jeff: what you’re you also went to one of my favorite episodes of what my favorite TV shows of all time, the [00:37:00] Westwind year in episode somebody going to the emergency, somebody who wants to jail, which one of the great, great big block of cheese episodes that West wing was very known for.
And you played a cartographer. On the show called refers for social justice and a couple of things I meant is a few other questions. First off, before we get into some of the details of it is have you ever heard of such a thing? Cause I never heard of, even that was a thing until I never heard galls Peters and projection maps and different looks of it until I watched the episode.
John Bilingsley: I had, I had heard of the Peters projection map.
Jeff: Let’s see, for me, that was totally brand new. And the thing with the West wing it’s Sorkin is so well-known for the dialogue that he does the clip of it how it has to be perfectly timed interacted. I mean it, in many ways people talk about Sorkin’s dialogue, performing it the way you would talk about almost in some ways Shakespeare, for me, that is very particular.
John Bilingsley: Yeah. Yeah. And, and, and, you know, it’s very interesting from show to show. I mean, perversely star Trek, there are the executive producers on star Trek were very persnickety. [00:38:00] There was no improvising on star Trek. It was, you know, every, every syllable, you know, as, as written Sorkin is famous for it. David Kelley is famous for it.
David Milch, a bunch of writers who are you know, within this medium, I think great writers take very, very seriously. Most writers do. I mean, very, very few, very, very few. TV shows give you much latitude to like, you know, improvise every now and again, there are shows where I think it Stargate, for instance, for me at least was one where they kind of gave you a little bit more latitude.
And there are shows where certain actors particularly on sitcoms can be given a little more latitude in the moment because their ability to improvise is is, is notable and valued. Generally speaking though. Yeah. You got to know your words. Anthony Hopkins famously says, you know, read the scene a hundred times so that you know it cold and you, you think, [00:39:00] Oh, a hundred times.
Try. It that’s a lot, not a whole lot. It, Sorkin is definitely somebody for whom you better have your damn words
Jeff: down because of it’s so specific on how he handles the, the rhythm and the, the pattern of the dialogue. Does it, does it make the acting slight more difficult? Because now once again, you’re, you’re going to focus on a delivery way, which may not be natural to you as
John Bilingsley: an actor.
No, because I mean, here’s the thing that’s sort of like, that’s the river, that’s the river you want you knowing, knowing what the work is always the work it’s it’s it’s what do you want? Why do you want it? You know, w how are you going after it? The style, the, the, you know, the. What Stanislavski kind of called a tempo rhythm.
The nature of what it is that you have to figure out musically is a is a craft question. So yes, you know, when you’re w Gilmore girls. Everybody on the grill, everybody on the Gilmore girls pretty much talk to the [00:40:00] clip and you had to really be ready with your lines and you had to be right on it because she was, she was like designed.
She had that show designed to get three jokes in for every other shows too. So you knew that whatever decision you made, whatever animated your character, you had to build in that there was a reason why that person talked very quickly on a Sorkin play or on a Sorkin script. I think one of the things you do is you say, for instance, in that scene, although I did not feel I was under any time constraint, but a scene in a Sorkin piece, you might say, okay, I’m only going to have two or three minutes with the president.
So I need to make sure that I marshaled my material and presented very, very concisely because if I start to him or haul or stutter, he’s going to cut me out and I’m going to lose the chance to speak. So you’ve justified in an active way. Why you are speaking with a tremendous amount of precision.
Jeff: Well also when you’re in, you’re playing like in the West, when you play it against Allison Janney [00:41:00] and Bradley Whitford.
Yeah. Did. Did they give you pointers on how to handle it?
John Bilingsley: I mean, no one ever will I, you know, honestly, it’s, it would be any actor would take great offense to another actor in any way, shape, manner, or form coming up to them and suggesting this is how you should do anything. That is a, that is a big no-no in our trade.
You, you assume that it’s a professional situation, that everybody is there because they have professional experience and that everybody knows their job. If anybody is going to say anything to you, it is the director and only the director, or occasionally the writer. If the writer is the person who as a sometimes true, kind of is in essence, serving as the director, no actor should ever give another actor a note.
Jeff: bad. Is it hard to walk into somebody’s house as it were and performed? In into their show because you got to catch up to how the rest of the rhythm of the cast behaves. Not
John Bilingsley: usually not usually because, you know, I mean, [00:42:00] especially, I mean, if, if, if this is what you do for a living, it’s your job.
And so, you know, you’re good at it. There are times when it can be tricky. There are times when you get a rewrite, a David Milch was famous for rewriting an entire scene the night before and showing up and giving it to his actors that morning. There are actors who are James Woods comes to mind who have a tremendous ability to look at a script and absorb it without having to spend a lot of time with it.
Most of us need to spend a lot of time with it. And particularly as we get older, I mean, I, I take a lot of time with the script. I walk around with it. I read it. I, I, I rehearse it. I think about it. I try different ways when I show up, I am ready to work. And if somebody gives me a note, I’ll take the note.
If you get fucked by, you know, through no fault of your own, most actors are very sympathetic to that and appreciative of what you’re struggling with. But, but generally speaking, very, very [00:43:00] few sets that you’re going to show up going like gulp somebody. I mean, I got, I did, I did of all things, stupid show diagnosis, murder, but Dick van Dyke was a hero of mine.
I grew up watching the Dick van Dyke show, you know, dah, dah, dah, dah. I watched him trip over the goddamn Ottoman. So he kind of tap dances his way onto the soundstage. It was one of the few times in my career. I was like, no,
every now and again too often.
Jeff: Wait, when you, when you are a guest on another show, how much prep time do you have to prepare for your, for your scene? I do you have a weeks ahead, days ahead.
John Bilingsley: Varies. Generally speaking, if you’re, you know, sometimes you’ll get offered apart, usually you’re auditioning for a part.
So you’ll have the, the sides, if not the full script maybe a week or so in advance they’ll cast you with anywhere between four days and eight days [00:44:00] notice before you’re going to shoot depending upon the shooting schedule. So you’ve got plenty of time to prepare. What will happen is that the script will go through, you know, umpteen revisions and they send out different colored pages, green pages, verbal datas BluePages yada yada.
Okay. Usually they’re quibbles little tiny things, but you always have to make sure you’re checking the pages because it is not impossible that the scene has been dramatically rewritten. And sometimes that will happen the night before. You, you hate it when it does. I mean, it’s an awful feeling. It just happened to me a few times in my career.
Not a lot, a few times where it’s like, I’ve shown up the next day. It’s like, I just got this rewrite the night before and I, I don’t really have it. And, and you know, it’s like, you do the best you can, but, but, you know, that’s, that’s when it’s like, you’re kind of like finding ways to write some of the lines down on the set somewhere, or they shoot it in bits and pieces and paste it all together.
It’s a terrible feeling.
Jeff: Is it [00:45:00] weird that that scene in the West wing where you’re playing the cartographer is so well remembered because it’s someone who’s big fan of the West wing and watches, you know, in some groups as well. That’s when those scenes that people show clips of all the time, that moment.
John Bilingsley: Well, it’s funny because different, different, you know, fans of different genres know me for different things. And so, yeah, I get, I get West wing a lot. There are people who, you know, like their crime shows. I was on a couple of episodes of cold case that I guess were pretty memorable where I was a particularly creepy villain.
So it really varies depending on who you’re talking to. Out of time was a movie I did with Denzel Washington that, that wasn’t the greatest movie. It was kind of a fun movie and was a fun and Denzel, as you know, has this huge fan base. So, you know, I get that a lot. Some of the things that I was you know, it’s a perversity of this business, possibly the thing that I enjoy doing the most in television was it short-lived.
Hardly watched at all show called the nine that only got [00:46:00] 13 episodes. And it was a lovely part for me and a really great ensemble and had a lot of variety to it. And I was very proud of my work and it flopped.
Jeff: So there you go. Do you ever know when you’re doing something, whether or not it’s going to be successful or not?
Like, can you tell at all? No.
John Bilingsley: Not really. No, I mean, I’ve been around for a long time, so I’ve got a lot of credits, but, but I, I never, there, there rungs on the ladder in this business, the next rung up from me or the next rung up from, from the rung up from that Stephen root comes to mind an extraordinary character actor who works all the time and very prestigious projects.
Cause everybody wants him. That wasn’t my career. I worked pretty consistently, but I usually had to audition and maybe 70% of the time I was, you know, Secondary or tertiary guest [00:47:00] star on whatever crime drama happened to be on the air at the time. So, so I don’t mean this to sound excessively self a negatory, but, but I don’t look at my career and go look at me, all the wonderful prestigious projects I was in there.
Weren’t a lot, you know, I made a nice living doing, doing a tough gig, but I have no illusions as to where I ended up on the pecky, you know?
Jeff: Well, you’re definitely forever famous for your role of Dr. Flocks on the star Trek enterprise show a show that killed the franchise. I don’t agree with that, but I know what you’re saying, but it, it, it.
It is. I think the show does seem to have gotten people, I think, look at it better as time has gone on, because I know there’s been a lot of talk in groups talking about getting it on the all eyes, you know, paramount applause and getting a news series as it connects to discovery and all this other stuff.
And I do think [00:48:00] it’s been viewed far more positively by the fan base. Now that time has passed on
John Bilingsley: well, it’s true. I mean, I, I definitely think there was a certain amount of star Trek fatigue when we came on. You know, there really wasn’t a break between next Jan deep space, Voyager and us. I think Brandon and Rick were a little burned out in all candor.
And we were on UPN, which itself was a network that was, was all but turning its toes up. I mean, other than wrestling at us, they had nothing. And in fact, one of the things that killed us. Is most most networks, the affiliate stations all over the country. They have a contractual obligation to air the networks programming.
They can’t pick and choose whether they’re going to air, you know, whatever show is on UPN, because it was such a weak sister network. Couldn’t actually demand that of the affiliate stations. So we found out that affiliate stations all over the country, we’re simply not airiness. We had a convention in San Antonio fairly early on and Dominic and I, I think we’re showing we [00:49:00] showed up.
I’m not sure if there are other enterprise guests and nobody came and we found out is because, well, it never aired in San Antonio. They had every Friday night to show high school football. I think that’s one of the reasons the audience, you know, it was not as robust, but yes, I have heard from a number of people that there may be a greater appreciation for it now.
Jeff: And it’s such a different looking show than the other star treks. I mean, the, it felt a little darker as it were. I mean, it had the look of almost being in a submarine versus a gorgeous ships of the other. Yeah.
John Bilingsley: I mean, I, I I’ve often said that I wished they’d kind of, you know, even gone farther with that.
I mean, to me, some of what made the show potentially interesting was it because we were the first crew, we, we weren’t as, as incredibly competent. As, as, as other crews were, not that we were clutches, it wasn’t like, you know, yahoos in space, but we were scared of the transporter and we weren’t entirely sure what to do when we bumped into an alien [00:50:00] culture.
And I would have liked maybe a little bit more of that tension and that frankness and that in a way that could have played out in certain, in certain to my mind in certain fashions that I think star Trek never does overlapping dialogue. Yeah. But when you’re in a conversation with a bunch of people and you’re arguing and it’s intense and it’s like, what do we do?
What do we do? What do we do? People are speaking over each other all the time, because it’s like, what the fuck we’re going to do? I’ll shut up. I don’t know. You’re going to know what you’re talking about, but you don’t know what you’re talking about. Yeah. Star Trek always is like, well, blah, blah, blah. I would have said there’s some stylistic changes that could have happened on star Trek to really make it clear this ain’t your daddy’s star Trek, but has as has been pointed out to me many times,
Jeff: your daddy wanted to watch.
John Bilingsley: So if we’d done that we might not have had any audience at all.
Jeff: Well, like I, I enjoyed to start trying to price. I think on the one hand, what [00:51:00] I don’t need to distractions just distracted. The tractors I ever had against the show one was the fact that they had the Vulcan. So when they mentioned wait, made it to Lu plan, the bulk had already been there before.
I was like, well, you can’t have that. And you want an explore, true exploration, new to everybody. You know what I’m saying? And the other one was I think that got me a little bit was Trying to say that the best way of phrasing it. Basically people were still treated like it wasn’t star Trek. Like they were perfect on some level, a little too perfect.
I felt they could have gone into the fact that these were non Federation people. This was. That’s
John Bilingsley: what I’m saying. And I think that would have required the show to actually really take a step back from a lot of things. Cause it’s interesting. You said it didn’t look like star Trek and yet in some ways I thought it did.
That was my problem is it’s like you come, you go to the trouble of making this claustrophobic submarine, like set, which I loved and all, if you turn the channel, you know, immediately we’ve landed on a star Trek show because the lighting is [00:52:00] basically the same. The look is very clean. There’s not overlapping dialogue.
A lot of the things that, that just tonally and stylistically always Mark star Trek did not change. Hmm. So,
Jeff: So on the show, obviously you played doctor philosophies. I’m gonna S I’m going to butcher the name. I didn’t know the
John Bilingsley: and here’s how you can remember that. It’s like, where are you from to know.
Jeff: No to no
John Bilingsley: blend, but no, to know Biola, this is why
Jeff: I cannot play on star Trek. I could not handle the jars
John Bilingsley: that, you know, the guy did my hair for years. And it was still always saying exactly what you just said. Nobody can. That’s why you never seen the goddamn species anymore. I’m
John Bilingsley: Yes. Yes. I was a dyno Beilin.
Jeff: as the you’re you’re honestly the first one and I, and I may be one of the only one, the last one too. So tell me, w did, did they give you leeway to how you wanted to play the character? Was it because the weird thing about Dr. [00:53:00] Flocks is that you’re playing an alien we’d never seen before, but you’re playing in a type of that alien that doesn’t behave like the other ones of its species.
So you’re both playing a new alien, but a different type of that. And we don’t know that must, must’ve been a very complex thing to try to perform
John Bilingsley: well. Yeah. I mean, you know, you, you, you can’t overthink it because as you say, th th the nice thing is as opposed to getting cast as a Volk, or as opposed to getting cast as a cling on is you’ve got to fit yourself into a box being cast as a dinoble.
And when there was never a fucking denomial and before is, I felt like I have all the freedom in the world. They’re going to end up making the be like me. I was the father of my species, so I had a lot of freedom. And I thought they very clearly in the pilot asked first and foremost for the person for the, for the actor to to be joyous, you know, to have a very grounded, but very expansive sense of joy.
And that, that was, [00:54:00] that was what they wanted. Dr. Flocks to bring. You can create all the backstory in the world about the species. And, and to a certain extent, I did some of that, but, you know, from script to script to script, you’re going to find that what they present makes you toss out your Bible anyway.
So I didn’t worry so much about, you know, what made a denomial ended a denomial. And as I did think about what, what, w w what is it that defines this person’s way of looking at the world? And that also is how you drive the action. You know, when you are somebody who views the world as a, as a, as a, as a marvelous, potentially dangerous, but exciting laboratory set that you get to play with.
And what a privilege that is, some of your action becomes to teach and to inspire that way of being amongst others. So to me, Dr. Flux was first and foremost in a very gentle way he would say to teach.
[00:55:00] John Billingsley COMBINED: And
Jeff: I think that’s one of the things I love about Dr. Flocks is that in the realm of star Trek, especially after our next generation, often, the acts of star Trek were always handled in a very vanilla way.
You’re not allowed to have too many different emotions. You’re not ever can never get too excited. You can never be too sad, but Dr. Flocks was allowed to be different. He was allowed to be. Upbeat and poppy and positive, and anything is one of the few characters that we’re allowed to be more than almost military and how they perform.
John Bilingsley: Yeah. I mean, the irony is, is that my objection to the show was that it probably needed to be darker when my character was supposed to be light. So you’re not, but yeah, I, I agree. I mean, I, I think there were other. Characters data, you know, comes to mind who in similar ways we’re expected to bring to the table.
I mean, there’s always, the alien character is always first and foremost, expected to challenge the existing mores and way of looking at the [00:56:00] world. It’s always, you know, designed to be look in the mirror, see yourself now, be aware that I am looking at you in an entirely different way than you were seeing yourself.
All the alien characters are supposed to do that. To a certain extent. I appreciated the sensibility that my character brought to the table, because I think in a way it allowed the show to kind of pull humans pants down. And there is, I think, a need for star Trek sometime. To pull human beings, pants down because we start from this place with star Trek where we say, man is perfectible.
We we’ve achieved it. We’ve conquered all this. And we fixed all that Lala. And here we are out in space, basically colonizing teaching other people how to be, and that can, you know, that can become a little, a little, hagiographic so it’s good. It’s good to have somebody to kind of actually go
Jeff: and, and, and, and star Trek at his best is an allegory.
And I think Dr. [00:57:00] Flux also, I thought existed as an allegory about kind of like a general durational aspect of racial, but in regard to the interference that he was one of those pieces that said, I will not just judge them by who they are. I’m going to, you know, Kind of be more open-minded about that kind of stuff.
I thought in many ways, Dr. Flocks really embodied the best aspects of star Trek in the philosophy they’re trying to
John Bilingsley: do. Yeah. So there was one episode and I, and I, and I, and I, that I have very mixed feelings about the dear doctor. Because I think his is, is, is a hard thing. You know, the, the, the question of what it is to be empathetic and deeply caring and what it is to have scientific detachment.
Dr. Flocks makes a decision in that episode to essentially say it is legitimate to allow a one species on a planet to die off when you have the medical knowledge to cure them, because that allows another species that is being subjugated to, to grow into its full potential reality. [00:58:00] I wasn’t sure I entirely came down on Dr.
Phlox is. I mean, I get it. I get it. It’s a little bit like if, if just, you know, to analogize, if the American Indians had been able to say, Hey, you know what, we’re going to ship smallpox blankets back to Europe. Would that have been a moral thing to do knowing if they didn’t, they would die off knowing that if they did die off, where do you sign up?
Where do you land on that? That, that I thought was an episode where it’s like, ah, no. And probably more than any, any episode that I’m ever asked about. With star Trek fans who kind of want to talk about Dr. Flocks, the episode that people point to and say. So when Dr. Flocks did that. Yeah. I don’t know.
Jeff: I hear you, but, but, but it’s good that it brings up the conversation though, which is what star Trek is good at.
John Bilingsley: does. Yeah. And that’s, I think, you know, [00:59:00] similitude was another episode. I mean, I would have said that we, we, we came into our own, I think, you know, in certain respects, although I always objected to a lot of the aspects of the de art, but there were episodes in season three that I thought were quite good.
And there are a lot of episodes in season four that I thought were pretty good, less successful in seasons one and two, some good ones. A lot of ones that I thought, you know, were kind of, you know, hackneyed and that had been done before. But, but at its best, an episode like similitude that I think kind of takes a You know, a tricky, tricky, tricky issue.
You know, the, the question of whether or not it’s legitimate to clone a human being. And they, they told that story in a in a way that made it tense and taught and got everybody involved. And there was an emotional arc to everybody’s journey. And, and there were stakes high stakes because this indie arc demanded that we move on if we were to survive.
So we had to figure out, you know, we got a contract, we have no [01:00:00] choice. That’s when star Trek works. Sometimes I think the moralistic or the allegorical episodes don’t have the tension. Sometimes the tense episodes don’t have much of a point.
Jeff: Well, I think one of the, my favorite episode, or at least one of favorite scenes with flocks was an episode, episode seven.
The, in, in, during an incident where Dr. Flocks is talking about DePaul and he’s talking to, and one of the great lines I like is that. He recites the Vulcan motto of infinite diversity in infinite combinations. It’s trying to get her to feel comfortable working with humans and showing her other volcano that she’d worked with him was when she was embarrassed about.
And I thought to myself, there was, it didn’t seem like there was enough scenes between thoughts and DePaul. These two aliens are the only ones that are kind on the ship. I don’t feel like they had enough interaction to kind of explore what is that to be the one that is, yeah, well,
John Bilingsley: you know, early on, they clearly, and, and they have, you know, the producers and the network and the suits and the guys who were ponying up the dough, they have a lot of imperatives [01:01:00] and I think they felt like.
Their primary imperative of course, is to get people, to watch the show. And needless to say the guy’s number seven, the fat guy is number seven on the call shape. Probably isn’t the guy who’s going to get people to tune in. So, you know, let’s have the pretty people run around in their underpants and be, let’s kind of figure out what made the original show ahead, which is this triangular relationship at the top of the show that kind of brings humor, intention and some of it is sexual tension in our case to to cranky, crusty, somewhat loving, but frequently rough edged triangle.
And that left, not as much room for the rest of us. You know, I think Dominic and I got to do more than probably Anthony and Linda, but generally speaking, this was a show that was not a, as much of a, to my mind is at least as much of a an ensemble show. As I thought it might’ve been when we started.
And I, I have no judgment on that. I mean, you know, one, I think Connor is a [01:02:00] terrific actor and, and merited every bit of screen time he got, and two, I can understand why they thought that might be the best way to go, but it didn’t leave as much room for, for me to, you know, for my character develop. I think in the first couple,
Jeff: it does seem like sometimes star Trek is kind of formulaic because I was thinking about Dr.
Flocks and the role of doctors on the N series and the doctors on the show have traditionally, it seems like to be been the Brit. What brought the humor to the show? You have Reno, Rob Ricardo and Voyager McCoy Leonard
John Bilingsley: crusher. But yeah, I hear you. Yeah. I would say that’s, that’s
Jeff: like the one that, the lone one that I think doesn’t quite fit into that.
And I mean, is it because they’re not part of the crew, they can you think that lends themselves to be able to. Have a little bit more freedom to how you performed it. Cause you’re not as stringent on behavior.
John Bilingsley: Not necessarily. I mean, I, I, you know, I w I will say that I think, you know, there’s not.
[01:03:00] This may not have, I don’t know my star Trek as much as, as, as that was YouTube, but generally speaking, the doctor doesn’t belong on a bridge. So a lot of the action adventure episodes, a lot of that, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh. He, the doctor is not in the, doctor’s going to be in the scenes that lend themselves to a little bit more chin wagging a little bit more like Robert, Robert, blah, blah, blah.
So, so, you know, it would make sense that maybe then whether the doctor is, is ruminated and philosophical or whether the doctor is kind of crusty and hard bitten or whether the doctor is finding a way through bedside manner to kind of be, you know, amusing and, and, and you know, set everybody at ease ish.
The action has more to do with the expression of personality than the pursuing of doctor Dr. De. Yeah.
Jeff: So it. It seems like the people in the best episodes to play or the mirror universe episodes is not a flock.
[01:04:00] John Bilingsley: Well, for one thing, it’s one note. I mean, you know, I didn’t mind doing it as a one-off, you know, playing a little version of Dr.
Mengele. And because I didn’t have a ton of scenes, it was fine to just be kind of like, Ooh, I’m going to take his liver up without giving him any. But you know, there’s not a, there’s not a ton you can do in that universe. You basically say everybody is evil period and a story as a Lark, it was fine. But I didn’t think those two episodes really went anywhere.
And I would not have particularly wanted to spend a lot of time in that universe, which, which oddly, I think they might have been intending to do. I loved the theme song. They created a whole evil television show
Jeff: themes. Yeah. Actually I kind of fell into that. The mirror Fox actually had some level of.
Compassion, which was weird for, cause he was trying to protect his people, you know, as well, a little bit. I was like, [01:05:00] well, that’s kind of like a, it was a universality of flops, I guess, no matter how evil he is, there’s still that part of him that says I still need to do
John Bilingsley: right by somebody sort of thought, well, it’s still joyful.
He takes joy into the section. I mean, in that sense, I think it got to be like, I think some of the like trip, I mean, poor Connor, I hate to do it, hated those things. And I think it’s because it, it, it, it was harder to kind of find a that kind of a behavioral through line from university universe. It was easier for me the way they wrote it, to be able to say, Oh, you know, Dr.
Flocks in many respects is very similar because he’s still somebody who’s like delighted as shit to do this stuff that wasn’t really, that wasn’t quite as playable for the other folks. Now, now the final
Jeff: episode it felt like every character were, was able to have an arc, but they didn’t really do much with flush that last episode they did.
They forgot to give him that final.
John Bilingsley: None of us were too keen on that final [01:06:00] episode, as you know, I mean, that has obviously been one of the great unfortunate blocks on the four seasons we had. Is it the fourth season was a strong season for the most part, but a strong season that did not end well, I think we all tried to be very politic at the time and.
You know, all of us, of course owe a tremendous debt to Rick and Brandon. They gave us jobs, they bought me a house. I will never be anything other than grateful. I understand that for them, the end of enterprise marked the end of their years at the helm of the franchise. So they wanted to do something that signaled a goodbye to the franchise for us in the cast.
And I think for some of the fans that was kind of perhaps done to the detriment of our story, and yes, I would agree that that, you know, for me there, there just wasn’t, you know, there, there [01:07:00] was no, there was no satisfying conclusion to Dr. Flocks, his journey.
Jeff: How would you have liked it to have concluded his journey?
John Bilingsley: Well, I mean, you know, that that would be arguing that it goes into, if it had gone another three years, there are a number of things that I would have been interested in seeing them potentially develop, but I don’t know that they would have, because I was still number seven on the call sheet. It does Dr.
Flops ever miss home is Dr. Flux ever feel lonely? Does Dr. Flocks ever feel like, you know, he’s banging his head against a wall? I mean, Dr. Flocks, you know, got to, got to do a lot of things. But I D I think there might’ve been another level of exploration possible to find out what scared Dr.
Flocks lost Dr. Flocks lonely. Dr. Flocks frustrated doctor flogs homesick. Dr. Flocks. Might’ve been like I don’t know, that might not have been appropriate. That might not have been [01:08:00] worth it. Lauren, I think anytime you’re an actor on a show that goes on for years and years and years, you’re basically on some level saying, okay, we’ve we, we kind of know that color.
We kind of know, we kind of know that, that you know how he is under this situation. W w what’s what’s you know, are there other things to explore, but you don’t want to hijack the show to do it. I’d have liked to have seen Dr. Flocks get laid, but that’s the one shot he had. Yeah. My own wife is on the show fictional life.
And what does she do? She hits on trip for God’s sake. It’s like, I would have liked to have seen just exactly how the .
Jeff: I mean, he had three wives, the other two, I think
John Bilingsley: he had to have had three penises. This is something that I would have liked to have seen explored. And my wife is in the background that I can hear her yell in saying that.
And did the guy, the guy who played my wife. Played my wife’s daughter in a movie, it was particularly, she was particularly [01:09:00] outraged and it’s like, how come, how come the cast some young babe to play her wife more age appropriate.
Jeff: And so if you ever, I guess if you’re ever writing your own star Trek Paul, you’re going to introduce the three is to know
John Bilingsley: I never, I never wrote I also, and an episode in which I was walking around the ship naked, suggested that I walk into the sick Bay, turned sharply to the left and all the way across the room, a flower should hit the ground.
Jeff: I’m surprised that they didn’t go with
John Bilingsley: it. No, they didn’t like any of my ideas, all my ideas, all my ideas were crass. Robert Picardo would go in and he’d pitch these, you know, esoteric ideas and he’s an opera singer and I’d always be like, okay, what if Dr. Flops, like when he has a gas attack, the farm 10 minutes long, let’s see how long we can sustain that date.
They locked the door when they saw me coming
Jeff: this way. So go ahead on a slightly separate track. You also the president of the Hollywood food coalition. Can you tell our listeners what that is and what do [01:10:00] you do as a president?
John Bilingsley: I’m the president of the board. So in essence, the Hollywood food coalition, which has been around for about 34 years, started as an organization that helped deliver services to people experiencing homelessness directly on the streets.
We would serve a hot meal every night, we would provide bus passes, laundry vouchers, tents, sleeping bags, clothing shoes, you name it as we grew. And as we evolved, we moved indoors. We started providing a better meal and more ancillary emergency services and started rescuing more food. When I got involved, we were in the process of making that transition and a lot of the work that my wife and I who’s also a member of the food coalition are engaged in and were engaged in, was to rescue more food, to improve the quality of the meal.
As we began to rescue more and more food, we recognized that it was possible perhaps to share that food with other not-for-profits. So we expanded into a second facility, which we call the community exchange program. Our nightly meal is called the community dinner. The various [01:11:00] emergency services we provide, we call community wellness, the third program, community exchange, all the food we rescue lands there, we call it, we sort it, we label it, we inventory it and we share it.
With anywhere between 30 and 70 participating not-for-profits and we’re trying to provide very personalized concierge level service so that all of these various groups who are in their own ways, supporting people in need are getting great food to build up and to make more robust their meal programs that.
Natural evolution of all this work is as we start working with more and more not-for-profits is to identify areas where we can collectively work to improve the social safety net for more and more people in our community. So that food insecurity becomes less and less of a concern. How are we as a community able to identify more food sources, pick up more food, share more food, refrigerate, more food, [01:12:00] et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
So we’re the Hollywood food coalition because we’re based in Hollywood. Food is our medium of expression and coalition means that we are coalition builders and we’re looking to build a community of care providers.
Jeff: The one thing I found that was our interest on your webpage. And I don’t know if maybe I’m noticing as a distinction that may not be necessarily intended, but I know it’s a very clear distinction that it refers to the people that you work with as clients, instead of customers.
And I thought that was a very unique distinction. Is there a reason for, for that
John Bilingsley: distinction, be honest with you in the next iteration of our website, they will be guests, which is really the word, which is really the word we use. Clients makes it sound as if we, and we do certainly try and do the very best we can.
We have UCLA medical, dental, vision vans come to our campus. We try and connect people to other social service agencies that can help out with mental health issues, legal issues, job, referral issues, housing [01:13:00] issues, but we are not there as social workers, pretending that we can minister to all their problems.
We are not trained to do that. Guests to me is really the best word, because what we try and do is say, come and have dinner with us, come and get to know us, come and get to know each other around a communal table. And let’s see if as a community of people we can help each other. That’s really one of the guiding principles that our executive director, a woman named Sherry Banano, who’s been with the organization for 20 or so years has really fought hard to imbue in this organization.
The idea that there is a, a real strong, compassionate effort to try and meet somebody on the ground where they live to say, we’re not here to judge, but can we help?
Jeff: So, so how does a regular person retain the services of your organization?
[01:14:00] John Bilingsley: Well, if we’re organization, so we serve a hot dinner every night and anybody who shows up in the line get to dinner period before COVID of course we could serve indoors.
As we get to know people who come frequently, we are always available to you know, we’re approached, can you give us, can you give us, can you give us if we have it, we will give it. We also flip that script and say, tell us a bit about yourselves. Do you have anything that you’re looking for that we can help you with?
And we try and as we get to know, people maybe direct them to other not-for-profits that’s the community dinner slash community wellness program, the community exchange program, all the food lands there. Food that we take to our kitchen to make our nightly meal gets shipped out all the other food that we have available.
We have an intake process. So we spread the word to the community that, you know, if you’re interested in being a part of the program, let us know what your needs are. So for instance, a group home for [01:15:00] people who are having mental health issues, they might come to us and say, we’ve got 25 people in our group home.
We have the capacity to cook a meal. We have limited refrigeration. What can you give us? And we will do you know, conversation with them to try and figure out what their regular needs are. How often do you need food? Two times a week, once a week, three times a week, some organizations need all the food to already be prepared because they don’t have a kitchen.
Some organizations are able to cook fairly elaborate meals. They just never had the food delivered on a regular basis. And we also, we’re trying to, in essence, learn to teach ourselves by doing enough about all the intricacies of the community, to be able to, if an organization calls us and says, Hey, a crisis.
We’ve got an event just happened the other day. We’re having dentists come to our VA facility to help clean the teeth for various and sundry people living on the [01:16:00] streets who are our veterans. We’re trying to find meals for all the volunteers and all the dentists and our clients. We need about 300 meals.
Can you do it? And they called, and it was like on a Tuesday. And we had allocated all of our resources for that Tuesday, but we were able to say, you know what, let us connect you with Baba Baba, Baba, Baba, because we work with all these groups. Yeah. So a lot of it is. What’s frankly, I think missing, you know, in, in so much of, of this sphere and in a lot of spheres, is that not not-for-profits naturally enough tend to get siloed.
They’re understaffed, they’re underfunded. It’s hard for them to send tendrils out to all of the other, not for profits that could help support and sustain them. It it’s viewed as, as, as work, which it is, but it’s worked. It might not necessarily be valuable. My argument and my, my, my reason for being and this [01:17:00] organization is to try and fight, to make it.
Be perceived as more valuable, so,
Jeff: well, when you’re trying, obviously that you work with, I assume a lot of people who are homeless how do you advertise your organization to those who don’t have a direct way of getting news ever? You know, because they’re not, I mean, how do you reach
John Bilingsley: them? You know, it really does become word of mouth.
I mean, the great, vast swath of people in LA Angeles are still for the most part who were experiencing homelessness are downtown, but different populations as the homeless population has burgeoned over the course of the last decade or so have moved to all sorts of different places, all over the city.
The people who are choosing to live in Hollywood know about the house, they would centric services because one we’re there every night. So we, we, it becomes known pretty [01:18:00] quickly. If you are living on the streets in Hollywood, where you can go to get a good meal every night. And you know, of course we’re doing what I think a lot of outreach agencies are doing.
We’re providing information night in, night out, you know, here’s, here’s a flyer to tell you where you might be able to go and get a shower every, every Tuesday. Here’s another flyer that will tell you where you can go use a community bathroom. Here’s another flyer that will tell you where many people who are experiencing homelessness actually have held onto their phones.
So some of the effort is to try and get better as a community. And, and there are efforts underway at least. And I’ll say in Los Angeles, every city of course has its own, you know, different set of on the ground prescriptions for how to grapple. But there are services such as two, one, one here in Los Angeles.
We try and remind the people who have phones that two, one, one is an, is a number to call to find out what’s [01:19:00] available for your needs. That said Los Angeles is essentially 88 separate legal entities. LA County is vast West Hollywood is its own city. Santa Monica is its own city. Beverly Hills is its own city, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
So the government patchwork is extremely complicated and the services are spread out over a vast geography and an individual caseworker. It’s not as if there is this, you know, extremely. Streamlined set of processes by which everybody in need gets a caseworker who marches them through every aspect of the system.
It’s extraordinarily vulcanized, somebody, for instance, who may be eligible for a housing program, but first needs to go to a doctor to make sure that they get a certificate that says they don’t have TB. Somebody is going to get them to the doctor, but that isn’t the same person. That’s going to get them into a housing program.
The handoff between agencies [01:20:00] sometimes, whoops, misfit deadline. As a for instance, yeah, the balkanization is, is, is really difficult. And for all the money that, you know, that is critical to come down and I’m, I’m so elated that Biden has been able to successfully move resources through the system.
I hope that continues, but, and money is critical and the federal government power to do more than any other in any it’s the biggest driver, the biggest answer to hunger as a food snap, the snap program. That that keeps more people from, from food insecurity than anything else we can possibly do.
But every program has to be administered and it filters down through, through the state, through the cities, through the localities, into a web of connected not-for-profits, those not-for-profits need to do a better job working together.
Jeff: So one thing that you have partnered with for mobile vision and medical aid is UCLA.
How did that come [01:21:00] about?
John Bilingsley: Say that was about 10 years ago before my time. But a gentlemen named Dr. Walter, I’m going to mispronounce his name, cope, cope, and Roth. I think as I pronounce, it was instrumental in encouraging UCLA to give the medical students a chance to take their work out into the community.
And we were one of their first partners to say, bring it to us. So particularly since we. Have moved indoors and are now on a campus. Although we’re a secular organization, we work out of the salvation army. Again, no barriers, no religious test. Anybody who comes to us for mail gets a meal. But because we have the consistency and the regularity of a campus is a lot easier for people to know that there’s going to be that medical van every Tuesday, that vision van, every other Tuesday we try and augment with, with dentistry or podiatry or et [01:22:00] cetera, but the key is UCLA.
Right now that’s what our longterm goal on the community dinner slash community wellness front is to eventually have our own campus where we’re able to extend the hours of meal service, the quality of meal service. We’d love to have table service, where instead of having to go through a line, people could actually come in for reservation and like restaurants.
We’d love to be able to be open all day. So the people could come in and get a snack or a little light breakfast. We’d love to be able to have other not-for-profits have a presence on that campus so that it could kind of be a one-stop shopping center for people experiencing homelessness or in poverty.
Instead of having to be found out all over the. Over the town and that’s a replicable model. That’s one of the things we really believe in is that what we want to try and do is keep building quality services so that people can say, that’s a cool model. Let us try and do that. Where we live, these kinds of community hubs, [01:23:00] where people who are experiencing poverty can come and have a lot of different needs answered.
There’s stupid things. For instance, very, a lot of people who are homeless, one of the reasons they can’t get a job because they don’t have the ID, you know, and the reason they don’t have their ID is because when they were routed off the street, all their possessions were taken and chucked out and their ID was thrown out.
You know, they don’t have access to legal services. If you criminalize homelessness and you start giving somebody who’s living on the streets tickets, they can’t pay those tickets. Those tickets accumulate. Now they’ve got thousands and thousands of dollars of tickets unpaid. And that means in the legal system, they are a, you know, a felon and they can’t get a job.
So having access to legal services is critically important. Mental health, I mean, I could go on and on.
Jeff: I want to point out that something in Rhode Island that did this recently, and this was maybe a year ago. They made it, so it was illegal to give money to the home, to homeless people in Providence.
If you give money to the homeless, you can be fine yourself [01:24:00] for doing it. And it’s just the horrible way we criminalize people who are homeless or helping, because once again, homeless people tend not to be able to vote because once he said no ID and they can, and I find that that really is a very grave shame that we do to people.
John Bilingsley: Yeah. I mean, you know, it, it’s, it’s enormously complicated and I really do. I understand, I mean, you know, Los Angeles right now, it’s grown extra, exceptionally squalid. And of course that has as much to do with the fact that, you know, during COVID we have, we have had, have wanted again, which I understand it makes perfect sense.
We have wanted not to disturb the homeless encampments because he, you know, we don’t have shelters to put people in. And frankly, putting people in shelters during COVID is more likely to get them sick than leaving them on the streets. But as homeless encampments grow and they become, I mean, [01:25:00] no toilets, no wastepaper can’t baskets.
No, no. You know, sinks. It’s where they live, where people live and the garbage piles up. And it, it, it is understandable to me that people in the community say, ah, It is understandable to me that people want to do anything they can to make that problem go away. I get it. It is not irrational to consider that people living on the street near you are a threat.
If only an aesthetic threat. It’s how people are. It’s a real challenge to come up with solutions to these problems without. Without any of us turning to other people and demonizing them for be for being cruel or cold or callous or NIMBYs. My feeling is, is that, is that in the end, you have to find a way to keep making tables, where everybody can sit and talk [01:26:00] and sit and talk and sit and talk.
And I say this as a progressive, who gets fucking pissed off at Maga people. So it’s not like I’m not no fucking Saint in the provision of social services, you are not going to banish folks who are upset that they live cheek to gel with poverty from the conversation, just because they, they, they, you know, they don’t seem as empathetic as you are.
It’s really, it’s part of the it’s part of the work.
Jeff: It’s how successful is the Hollywood coalition doing? It’s spreading beyond Los Angeles to spread to further California spread to other States and show that model to the rest of us on how to do and how to help people better,
John Bilingsley: you know, in a weird way, it’s still baby steps.
I mean, we’re 34 years old, but up until 20. Late 2015, this was an organization that was run by a gentlemen who I never met. I mean, he did an amazing job, you know, providing services to the people in his immediate [01:27:00] community, but he specifically did not want to be partnered with other organizations. He, he, and I don’t mean this pejoratively, but he viewed those collaborations as inherently problematic.
They would somehow strip him of his autonomy of his ability to do it the way he wanted to do it. So it’s only after, after he kind of split because Sherry banana, who I referenced earlier kind of really had kind of a calm conversation with him, but tough conversation with him and folks in his, his, his particular camp, I guess, for lack of a better word about the challenge of growth and the need to, you know, to do more, which required more collaboration in.
In forcing that schism on the organization. It, it did some great service because it allowed us to start. And again, this is before my time, it allowed the organization to take some interesting and important growth steps. It also fractured the organization and a lot of the people who [01:28:00] funded it and a lot of the people who supported it split when I joined and when my wife joined in 2017.
This was an organization that for 34 years, or for, at that time, 30 years had done an amazing job feeding people every night, but it had a budget of under a hundred thousand dollars a year. It had two part-time drivers. It had no paid executive director. It had, it had no, no development plan, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
They, they, they couldn’t, they didn’t have the infrastructure. My ambition was to build its infrastructure out so that it would be able to do more. So we’re still fairly young when it comes to doing more that turning around the world at large and, and let, let us model that still to me some growth steps away.
Jeff: So how can our listeners help you and help the Hollywood food coalition? Like what, what can they do?
John Bilingsley: Well, I mean, obviously if, if you’re hearing this and this is [01:29:00] any way striking you as inspirational and something you want to be a part of there’s not a not-for-profit in the world that isn’t going to say that they would not welcome your financial contribution and you could go to H O F O C o.org, and you could make a contribution via the mechanisms that exist on our website.
I’m Jay Billingsley, 60 at Twitter. Feel free, free to follow me. I’m, I’m always you know, try and pop in every day or so. And I can steer you to our website and Instagram, and I suspect if you would be so kind that you were provided with that information, and maybe you could just share it to Jeff with with the gaggle.
Jeff: Yeah. W what, what we’ll be doing when the episode goes live, we’ll have several links to the Hollywood food coalition. And if you wanna send me any other links that would be valuable to them that are a little more specific. We’ll add
John Bilingsley: that too. Yeah, I I’ll I think I might’ve put you in touch with Patrick Hudnut, who is our program coordinator, and he can get you anything anything that you might want and might be valuable to people who are listening.
The other thing I, I kind of say, and [01:30:00] I say this a lot is, is a deep passion of mine has always been trying to figure out how to be part of the community I live in. You know, what does that mean? When I was a theater actor that meant building theater companies. When, when I moved here and I kinda got out of the theater, it was figuring out an offer profit to work with it interested me.
I worked for the AIDS service center for a number of years because being in the theater, I’d lost a lot of people who to HIV AIDS. I think it’s really important above and beyond. You know, my passion for this organization, for people who may still be searching for ways to be involved is to kind of do a little inventory.
What are the things that. Drive you and animate you and excite you. And how can you connect those hungers and those urges? Is it teaching? Is it reading? Is it, is it, is it social justice? Is it issues of poverty? Is it environmental science, anything that animates you that makes you want to like, you know, I wanna, I wanna work in this area.
There’s a place for you to [01:31:00] connect in your community. I I’m a great believer in not reinventing the wheel. I think if I’m speaking to anybody, who’s listening above and beyond the Hollywood food coalition. I’d say, if you feel this as a whole in your life, Do a little research and find out where your potential home is in your home, because there’s a home for you, you know, teaching kids to read you know, volunteering in the school system, volunteering in a public library.
Volunteerism is, is to me, I, I think one of the greatest necessities to rebuilding much of what is broken about our country. There’s a selfishness in our country right now. And I don’t speak this to the folks who are listening. Cause I would imagine that probably everybody here, you know, it’s one of the great things about star Trek fans.
I think star Trek fans have had a deep passion for, for involvement. But I think one of the things, a little broken our country right now is we think of freedom and freedom is about my freedom to go after what I want. And I don’t think [01:32:00] enough about responsibility and, and we, we are great beneficiaries.
All of us who are alive today have hundreds of years of very brave and courageous people who are willing to sacrifice so much so that we could be here. We have a responsibility to give back and I, I think much less about my freedoms than I do about my responsibilities.
Jeff: Is there any, I mean, I assume that it’s a difficult answer to give, but is there any source that you have that can help people find.
A version of what you do, where they live, or one that is respected that can, they can follow along.
John Bilingsley: Yeah. But I’m a great believer in, I mean, you know, as much as I, as much as I can, can see low the aspects of social media and the, you know, the, the world we live in, which we’ve all got, you know, these smartphones kind of like pulling our pickers all the time.
It is undeniably true. That a little bit of research these days. I mean, just [01:33:00] start Googling, you know, not for profits in, okay. Let’s say you’re in, in, bumfuck not for profits in, bumfuck not for profits in food insecurity. Bumfuck not for not-for-profits poverty. Bumfuck not for profits education. Bumfuck. I mean, it doesn’t take much.
And just make a few phone calls. I mean, really you come up with non-for-profit, you know, education okay. Not-for-profit bumfuck education or blah, blah, blah, exists to yada yada call. Hey, I’m calling. Cause I’m really interested. Can you give me some other leads? What else is in your community? Who else do you work with?
Who are your pals? I mean, one phone call and then you’re off on the chase. You know, then just start making phone calls. We’re afraid of the phone. I think, you know, it’s like you pick up the phone and you start saying, can you connect me to, can you connect me to suddenly, man? I mean, it’s, it’s not hard to find.
Jeff: I want to thank you Mr. Billingsley so much for talking with [01:34:00] me. It was, it was it’s a Sierra honor was there in a great pleasure of mine. Thank you so much.
John Bilingsley: I, my pleasure, my honor, as well, and I’m happy to happy to have spent some time with you and and you know, look at me, you got me talking all serious.
It’s like making, making bad jokes the whole time and. This is one of the more earnest
Jeff: conversations. Well, I, I think what you’re doing with the Hollywood food coalition is necessary and fantastic. And hopefully there’s more people out there like you, then those who are obviously,
John Bilingsley: I believe that is true. I mean, I honestly will say, I think that even even when I am infuriated at, at.
And people in this world and people in our country right now, I do think that, that everybody has this core need a human need to, to, to feel the warmth of giving. And it, [01:35:00] it manifests itself sometimes in ways that would not, you know, perhaps be to my liking. But I do believe the impulses is shared. You know, I, I, I’d only say that.
I think maybe in some instances bending the impulse, you know, the person who’s donating time to the NRA. I might wish they would donate their time.
Jeff: Right, right, right. Well, thank you so much, sir. I always say I hope you have a great night at any time you want to talk, come right back on the show. Much obliged.