If you’ve ever watched Star Trek: Enterprise, you’ve seen John Billingsley even though he doesn’t look like himself onscreen. The actor portrayed the witty and wise Dr. Phlox, the only Denobulan aboard ship. And he did so with a healthy dose of glee and charm that made fans recognize him as one of the top doctors in all of Star Trek, and he even took the number one spot in Screenrant’s list of the 11 Best Doctors in the Star Trek Universe.
While Star Trek: Enterprise was one of Billingsley’s forays into science fiction (along with The X-Files and Stargate SG-1), he has had a steady career guest-starring in drama series such as Cold Case (where he played a serial killer that was seriously disturbing), Prison Break, and NCIS. The actor, who turns 61 today, also had a creepy turn as Ryan Lipe in two episodes ( “Oh, Mama” and “Gypsy Woe’s Me”) of NYPD Blue in 2002. Those episodes are really worth watching just for the hardcore deviation from his Dr. Phlox character who he was also portraying at the time.
Billingsley will always be known to us Star Trek fans for his wonderful portrayal of Dr. Phlox, and we hold out hope that he can one day return to the character even if Enterprise is never revived. With so many characters from previous shows making returns on series like Star Trek: Picard and Star Trek: Lower Decks, there has to be a way to bring in a Denobulan. His species has long lifespans, after all.
In the meantime, if you want to see how well Billingsley can play just about any type of character, head over to Hulu to check out the NYPD Blue episodes I mentioned and also catch his three episode stint as Terrance Steadman in Prison Break. It’s no wonder John Billingsley was able to make Dr. Phlox come to life even though his face was hidden behind prosthetics. It’s a true testament to talent!
Happy Birthday to one of the best Star Trek actors in the universe!