Q&A - Ed Begley, Jr.

Actor and environmental activist Ed Begley, Jr. talks about living green

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People know they should use compact fluorescent light bulbs and insulate their homes, but how do they overcome their inertia?
Just start. Do something. People are overwhelmed looking up at the Mount Everest of environmental challenges that we face. But you put one foot in front of the other and you recognize that not everyone is Sir Edmund Hillary. You get to the base camp and get acclimated and see how high you can climb. That's what I recommend, that people take the first step.

What is the first step?
Getting out of your car would be the best single thing that anybody could do. It could mean walking in your neighborhood, taking public transportation., or riding a bike if weather and fitness permit.

Are enough people making these changes?
I think enough people are doing it for today. Now we need more people to do it tomorrow.

People in Hollywood once called you a fanatic. How did that feel?
I didn't mind so much. The dog barks but the caravan moves on. Let people say what they want. I knew what I was doing made sense. Not only did I feel I was doing something for the environment but I was saving money. I'm not a wealthy person because I was never a star. I was a working actor and a supporting actor. But I have something that's as good as having a lot of money. My bills are very low because of all these investments I've made in my future.

Did that hurt your career?
According to my manager and my agent in the ‘90s, people were hesitant to hire me because they thought I'd make trouble on the set. I never did make trouble on the set but people were fearful of that. People on the set would come up and say, "Please, Ed, don't be angry. We're going to take care of it. Just bear with us until lunch."

"What are you talking about?" I'd ask.

"We'll have the recycling bins."

"Okay, get the recycling bins."

You were 40 years ahead of Leo DiCaprio and even Al Gore. How does it feel to be a green celebrity?
It feels good that people are doing the right things to clean up the air in cities like LA and Houston and Bakersfield to lessen our dependence on Mideast oil and to put money in all our pockets. Whatever reason people are doing it, I'm just happy it's happened.

Is your TV show (Living With Ed) going for a third season?
We're talking to other cable venues. It won't be on HGTV. I'm doing lots of speaking engagements. I'm lobbying the halls of Congress. I'm doing a Woody Allen movie. I've got an HBO movie called Recount out in May and a Seth Rogen movie called Pineapple Express out in August. I'm not sure I have time for a reality show.


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