John Billingsley Has A Fun Idea For Dr. Phlox On ‘Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’

John Billingsley, Star Trek: Enterprise‘s Dr. Phlox, is a guest on the upcoming episode of the All Access Star Trek podcast. He came by to talk about Trek Talks 3, an all-day marathon of Star Trek panels happening on YouTube on January 13 to support the Hollywood Food Coalition. In addition to talking to him about the event, the TrekMovie podcasters also discussed his time on Star Trek: Enterprise and asked for his thoughts on how Dr. Phlox could return to the Star Trek franchise.

Phlox on Strange New Worlds?

Since so many legacy Star Trek characters have popped back up in the franchise recently, Billingsley was asked if he had any thoughts about the return of his Denobulan doctor. Not only did the actor have some thoughts on it, but he also revealed he spoke to members of the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds team on the picket line during the recent SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes. Billingsley explained:

“I was on the strike line and some of the Strange New Worlds guys were coming up and saying ‘How long do you think Denobulans live?’ I said ‘Long. Long, long, long. Definitely long enough to be on your show if that’s what you’re getting at.’ So who knows? I mean, I would happily come back. And I figure, hell, even if I’m dead, my son Phlox Jr. is still around, and he is the spitting image of his old pop.”

Star Trek: Enterprise was set in the 22nd century and introduced Denobulans through Billingsley’s character of the affable Dr. Phlox. While many aspects of Denobulan culture (including plural marriages) were established during the series, their potential lifespans weren’t, so it could be possible for Phlox to be alive in the 23rd century.

Dr. Phlox (John Billingsley) with one of his three wives, Feezal (Melinda Page Hamilton), in “Stigma” (Paramount)

While the picket line chat was a casual discussion, when asked by the podcasters, the actor had some specific thoughts about how the character might have evolved over a century later and what Phlox might be doing in his retirement years:

“I think he’s writing a series of very successful sex manuals. I think he’s become like the Dr. Ruth of intergalactic space, maybe got his own show. Maybe a lot of cookbooks too… Phlox, he was hedonistic. He was brilliant, but he was hedonistic. So, the Star Trek way, he would be doing research and curing diseases, guest lecturing at various medical yada yada yada . . . … I’d like to think that he got to a point where he said, ‘You know what? I’ve done a lot. It’s time for me to have fun, and I’m going to do some cool shit.’ I’d like to think he got to enjoy some of his declining years, with his various wives and husbands, traveling around the galaxy, going to Risa, having a blast.”

As the ship’s doctor, Phlox often dealt with serious and moral issues, but Billingsley’s pitch fits with the way the character was often used for humor on Enterprise. This would fit nicely with Strange New Worlds, which included many comedic (even sitcom-y) elements in its first two seasons. However, the actor explained he can go in either direction:

“If they brought me back in a dramatic way, I probably would be a little surprised, but I’d be fine. I really enjoyed those episodes where I was given the opportunity to lean into the more serious s#*t. I am happy to do any of it.  It’s my own nature that’s coming out now. My capacity as an actor is to bend in either direction because it’s the most interesting of all when it gets to be both at the same time.”

What about Lower Decks?

Phlox could be is a good fit for Strange New Worlds as he could still be alive during that time frame, plus his cookbook idea fits in nicely with the show’s cooking scenes. Another good option: Lower Decks. At New York Comic Con in October, show creator Mike McMahan talked about how he loves Enterprise and had been working on a way to include it:

“I think in season 5 I figured out—if the deals work out, there is some Enterprise love in season 5. We are early enough so I could be wrong about that so tune in next year.”

When told about McMahan’s comment and asked if he had any inside info, Billingsley said:

“I don’t know… News to me. Maybe there’s some great deal in the works in some back room somewhere where I am going to appear on all the various iterations of Star Trek now and and it’ll be a great victory lap in the latter part of my career, but I wouldn’t bet on it.”

Tune in to the All Access Star Trek podcast this Friday to get the full interview with John Billingsley and learn more about Trek Talks 3.

Keep up with news about the Star Trek Universe.

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Phlox was often the comic relief on the show but man when he got serious, he got serious. He was the first to introduce Starfleet to the concept of the Prime Directive after all. That could be a great way into SNW?

LDS-Enterprise make a lot of sense. When you are frying Spam for dinner, it always works good if you add a slice of Velveeta on top.

All that sex keeps you healthy. Live long…..

Legacy character? He’s got an amazing chance of being in.

I would LOVE to see Phlox  on Strange New Worlds.

Phlox was one of the few things I liked about Star Trek: Enterprise, so I’d be happy to see him, but please leave the rest of it behind!

Agree. I liked T’Pol too though (ridiculous catsuits aside), but Jolene Blalock doesn’t seem like she’d be game.

I liked the idea of the character, but I thought Jolene Blalock was not very good at playing a Vulcan; she was clearly cast for something other than acting ability…

It was never really the characters I disliked (outside of Archer uugghh). Just the premise of having an Enterprise before THE Enterprise. I always thought a prequel show should have been a NASA type show about humanity’s trials about first experimenting with getting warp drive and such working. A lot more like what “For All Mankind” is today.

Yeah, Enterprise became “Berman-Lite”, as some have said. I’d have loved to have seen your show instead!

Archer was such an idiot that he would have gotten them all killed the first month out. I hate it that modern Trek names stuff after him and acts like he’s a big deal.

That’s the nature of being first. Even if you weren’t very good there’s a good chance you’ll be remembered favourably simply for being the first.

That’s a good point, thanks! I feel a little better about all the Archer references now.

Glad I could make you feel better ;-)
Happy New Year to you and everyone here.

Happy New Year to you, as well!

I be down to see Phlox in both SNW and LDS! Make it happen Kurtzman!

Due to their longevity, Phlox, Soval, Shran, and T’Pol could all appear on Strange New Worlds. But the one that should appear is Archer, transported to that future from his present.

I dunno about Soval, he seemed pretty old to me already.

Sarek was 203 when he died. Memory Alpha says Soval was born prior to 2032. By 2235 he would have been as old as Sarek was when he died. To appear on Strange New Worlds, he’d just need to hang on for another 32 years or so. Not entirely impossible. Unlikely, but not impossible.

Please don’t. Phlox was the nelix of enterprise. He started off as a good character, then he became annoying

Did he really change that much?

I loved Dr. Phlox, and I think a lot of that was due to Billingsley’s performance; in a less capable actor, the character could have de-generated into another Neelix.

But I’m not chomping at the bit for a crossover. Most of these crossovers have been disappointments. SNW has not earned its crossover the way “Unification” did.

I want to see a series which puts Phlox and the Holo Doc on a ship together captained by Julian Bashir who regularly has to try and ‘referee’ the two who naturally don’t hit it off but of course appreciate the others abilities…. call it Star Trek : The Three Doctors…. My two favourite character plus one I developed a liking for as DS9 progressed.

I thought all the star trek shows are good! People please quit putting down the characters! If you are a real fan,then you accept all the actors.i think that they all are very good! Remember folks it’s not true life, just a science fiction story. I think one of the best on going sagas ever!

Did you mean to make this its own post rather than a reply to this poster who said nothing negative?

I think you’ll find most fans do thrive off of discussing the positives and negatives as they see them about the shows. When that turns into constructive debate when we see things differently that’s quite rewarding. But a lot of time it is just, “I liked it!” “I didn’t!” and your mileage will vary on that.

i do believe there is already another famous sci-fi franchise that has been around a decade longer then trek has been with a mini series multi part episode special with the name the three doctors and two follow up ones after that one called the four doctors and the five doctors

T’Pol could certainly be alive in the SNW setting. But maybe the actress wouldn’t want to have all that makeup troweled onto her face again, especially if her being there was part of a multi-episode arc.