In the ’80s he made rounds with Denzel on “St. Elsewhere.” During much of the ’90s he could be found in “7th Heaven.” This year, he is the title character’s doctor in the movie “Diary of a Sex Addict.”
But at a Calhoun College Master’s Tea Tuesday, actor Ed Begley Jr. showed that his true character perhaps involves more politics than show business.
“It’s my bully pulpit so I get to share my crackpot view,” Begley said.
After Begley gave his opinion on everything from U.S. dependence on foreign oil to America’s Gross Domestic Product, he was asked if he would ever go into politics.
“I’m not sure that acting and politics mix,” Begley said. “I have no desire to go into politics.”
Begley still spent the first portion of his talk on topics including politics, the media, economics and conservation before turning to his work in Hollywood during a question-and-answer session.
Begley pointed to an American flag pin he was wearing on the lapel of his tan suit as he began to talk about the media reaction to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.
“I’m a patriot and glad to be so,” he said. “[But] there is a lot of fright out there that the media is making a meal out of.”
Begley, whom Calhoun Master William Sledge called an environmentalist in his introduction, talked about his efforts to preserve natural resources.
Begley lives in Los Angeles and drove to New Haven on a cross-country trip in his Honda Insight, a $20,000 hybrid electric car that averages 68 miles a gallon on the highway.
“That’s what I focus on — sustainability. I’m not a technocrat or a Luddite,” Begley said.
The actor, who has appeared in such movies as “This is Spinal Tap” and “Best in Show,” also talked about some of his beliefs on international affairs.
“It’s time to lessen our dependence on foreign oil,” Begley said.
Matthew Bloom ’05, who came to the tea with a group of friends, said that he enjoyed hearing Begley talk about his ideas on acting and the environment.
“His views were definitely alternative but not outrageous,” Bloom said. “They made sense.”
Begley also talked about materialism — “If stuff made people happy, there’d be nothing but happy people in Bel-Air and no happy people in the bush” — before turning from politics to Hollywood.
Begley briefly mentioned his one-episode stint on “The West Wing” and also discussed his recurring role as Hiram on the HBO series “Six Feet Under.”
After talking about some of the roles he has played, Begley also talked about one he has declined to play. He said he is wary of increasing violence in modern films and mentioned that he had just turned down a script called “You May Kill the Bride.”
“I’m not for censorship,” he said. “[But] I do have my own program to steer clear of that kind of stuff — You can’t proselytize or preach to people. There has to be a balance.”
Finally, Begley gave his advice to any possible future actors at the Tea, saying prospective actors have to want the job desperately.
“If you don’t have a burning desire to be an actor,” Begley said, “sell storm doors or something.”