TALK SHOW WITH HARPER SIMON | EPISODE 6
Ed Begley Jr. On Solar Living and How Going Green Makes Economic Sense
Inspired by the works of his Academy Award-winning father, Ed Begley Jr. became an actor. He first came to audiences’ attention for his portrayal of Dr. Victor Ehrlich on the long-running hit television series St. Elsewhere, for which he received six Emmy nominations. Since then, Ed has moved easily among feature, television and theatre projects.
He is one of the Governors of the Motion Picture Academy and he lives in a solar-powered home and drives an electric car. Ed and his family are currently documenting construction of a LEED Platinum-certified home for Begley Street, a television and Web series produced by Make It Happen Productions. Both shows are set to launch later this year.
Veteran actor Ed Begley Jr. sits down for the latest episode of Harper Simon’s Talk Show to discuss his 47-year career in show business, growing up in Hollywood with his Academy Award-winning father Ed Begley Sr., and his inspiring commitment to environmental change in all aspects of his life.
Ed recounts his first showbiz experience in 1967 on the classic sitcom My Three Sons, which his father had previously worked on. He said he remembers a “sweet” moment looking back when he went back to his usual paper route after filming his role on My Three Sons and really hoped the people would recognize that something about him was different.
“When I was done with the show, I left my makeup on… and I went and I did my paper route. I got my bike and I did my paper route to different houses, and I kind of stood there for a moment, and then left and went back to the bike – hoping someone would recognize me – the show hadn’t even been edited,” he said.
On growing up as “a Hollywood kid,” Ed says he always looked up to his father and that is what prompted him to pursue a career in acting. “I wanted to do what my dad did, that’s all I wanted. If he was a plumber, I probably be fitting pipe now,” he said.
“We got to know some showbiz families when I was about 16, that’s when I met Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds – my dad did a movie with her. But prior to that, we just had valley friends, who were the guys who worked in factories, in Hartford, Connecticut with my dad.”
He explains that while his father wanted to be an actor all his life, before his career took off, he worked in a factory making “wiremold” for walls as “one of those factory workers who made things.” Ed says that although he was born in Hollywood, his father decided to move to the East Coast to do more theater work, and he ended up going to school in Long Island and later in Buffafo, New York.
He also speaks about a reality show he did called Living with Ed, along with his wife, Rachelle Carson, which showcased Ed’s desire to transform the couple’s home into an environmentally-friendly oasis. Most recently, the couple has a new reality show called On Begley Street on EvoxTV.
When asked if it’s stressful working with his wife, Ed lightheartedly responds, “It’s a nightmare, it’s a living hell. We have a few laughs ourselves – she was the one who convinced me to do the reality show.”
Ed says that Rachelle still resents a lot of the “green stuff” that he does, saying she married an environmentalist, but the minute the ring went on the finger, she demanded a limo so that “she and the girls are going to Chippendales.”
“Everything I did for the environment, I also did an incredible budget, and it all proved to be good for my bottom line,” he recalled, explaining that he started in 1970 with the first Earth Day.
He suggests that for people seeking to begin measures in their own home to conserve energy, they should start out with less expensive improvements so they can upgrade to more significant ones later.
“To do the cheap and easy stuff – like weather stripping, energy-saving thermostat, energy-saving light bulbs, riding a bike when weather and fitness permit, taking public transportation if it’s near you, home gardening, home composting – all those things are very cheap.”
But he says that for major change to take place, it will take getting major players on board from three major sectors. “It’s personal action – the way you and I spend our money and what we do. Number Two is industry – how they behave – if they are going to finally get on board. Number three is political, what our politicians do.”
Ed points out that the holdouts on climate change rules still tend to be the Republicans, and says these politicians don’t really believe what they say anymore on environmental issues, suggesting that they are “indebted” on climate change.
“They’re on the wrong side of history, so we’ve got to help get them out of jail and find some way where all together – you can’t have a one-at-a-time jail break – there has to be a massive jail break for all of them, to get them our of there and help them to go along with the clear science on climate change.”
Watch the full episode to also hear Ed give his advice for consumers about the best options for purchasing hybrid and fully electric vehicles. Plus, he reveals details about his “wild years” in Hollywood during the 1970s, a time during which he says he experimented with drugs and jokes that unlike President Bill Clinton, he “did inhale,” and “had a lot of fun, and remembers most of it.”