An ubiquitous presence on both the big and small screens, character actor John Billingsley was a well-known regular on TV's guest-star circuit before landing his first steady gig as a series regular in 1999's short-lived series, "The Others." However, it was not until 2001 that Billingsley won his first breakout role as the irrepressibly optimistic Dr. Phlox on the sci-fi series, "Star Trek: Enterprise" (UPN, 2001-05). He would follow up that successful run with a shorter turn on the heavily promoted serialized drama, "The Nine" (ABC, 2006) - all projects raising the profile of this dependable utility player.
Born on May 20, 1960 in Media, PA, Billingsley spent much of his early childhood criss-crossing the American South, before his family settled in Weston, CT. Viciously taunted for his Southern drawl while growing up, Billingsley quickly learned the value of acting by learning how to walk and talk like the other "Yankee children" - just to avoid getting beat up after school. After receiving a degree in Theatre from Bennington College in the early 1980's, Billingsley set out west for Seattle, WA, where he spent the next 15 years acting in regional theater. As rewarding as the work was, however, Billingsley struggled to make a decent living. Driven by financial desperation, Billingsley finally decided to move to Los Angeles in 1995 in a last-ditch, do-or-die attempt to break into television.
Billingsley's gamble luckily paid off. Kicking off his television career in the mid-1990's, Billingsley quickly found work by playing off his eccentric looks and sharp comedic timing. In 1997, Billingsley caught a major break and landed an uncredited bit part on an episode of "NYPD Blue" (ABC, 1993-2005) as a child molester. Other guest star roles soon followed on such hit shows as "Judging Amy" (CBS, 1999-2005), "Nash Bridges" (CBS, 1996-2001) "Martial Law" (CBS, 1998-2000) and "Arli$$" (HBO, 1996-2002). In a portent of things to come, one of Billingsley's earliest memorable credits was a guest role as a techie geek in a 1999 episode of the popular science-fiction drama, "The X-Files" (Fox, 1993-2002) - a genre that would eventually make Billingsley's career.
After racking up a sizeable list of guest star credits, Billingsley landed his first regular series - the short-lived paranormal drama, "The Others" (NBC, 2000), in which he portrayed Prof. Miles Ballard. Despite its high production values and impressive pedigree, however, (the show was executive produced by Steven Spielberg), "The Others" failed to find an audience and was cancelled after only a few episodes.
Luckily Billingsley's ship came in with his next series - a starship, to be exact. In 2001, Billingsley won the role that would make him famous - that of the alien physician, Dr. Phlox, on "Star Trek: Enterprise." The fourth spin-off based on Gene Roddenberry's legendary space opera saga, "Enterprise" was a half-hearted attempt to inject new life into the dying "Star Trek" franchise. Touted as a more realistic, back-to-basics approach to the final frontier, "Enterprise" set itself apart from the rest of the Star Trek spin-offs by being a prequel. Set some one hundred years before the adventures of William Shatner's iconic Captain James T. Kirk, "Enterprise" promised to bridge the gap and re-invent "Star Trek" for the new millennium. Unfortunately, the show failed to live up to its promise and proceeded to boldly go where other "Star Trek" shows had already gone many, many times before. The lowest rated of all the "Trek" spin-off shows, "Enterprise" chugged along with unimpressive ratings for four seasons before finally being cancelled by UPN.
Fortunately, Billingsley did not stay unemployed for very long. Soon after the cancellation of "Enterprise," Billingsley returned to the TV guest star circuit, hotter than ever before. Post-"Enterprise," Billingsley's credits included guest star roles on "Nip/Tuck" (FX, 2003-10), "The Closer" (TNT, 2005-11) and "CSI: NY" (CBS, 2004-13). Billingsley's most notable role from that period, however, was probably that of serial killer George Marks - a part Billingsley played in two episodes of the hit police procedural drama, "Cold Case" (CBS, 2003-10). A monstrous sociopathic murderer of staggering intellect, the character of George Marks held the distinction of being the only killer on the show never to be caught. First introduced in the early second season episode "Mindhunters," Billingsley returned to reprise the role several months later for the show's season finale, entitled "The Woods." Though the episode ended with Marks finally meeting justice, the character continued to live on as a looming presence that haunted the show's protagonist, Detective Lilly Rush (Katherine Morris) for much of the third season.
In 2005, Billingsley scored big with roles on two high-profile shows. The first was in a recurring role as convict Terrence Steadman, the hapless brother of U.S. Vice President Caroline Steadman, in the breakout hit drama of the season, "Prison Break" (Fox, 2005-09). Billingsley played Steadman in three episodes during the first season and was scheduled to return for an expanded role in the second. That is - until Billingsley got a better offer - a series regular gig on ABC's new serial drama, "The Nine" (ABC, 2006-07). (The character of Terrence Steadman was subsequently recast with actor Jeff Perry).
One of the most hyped new shows of the 2006-07 fall season, "The Nine" told the story of nine strangers whose lives were inexplicably intertwined by a single, seemingly random bank robbery. Closely following the blueprint from its lead-in, the hit adventure-drama, "Lost" (ABC, 2004-10), "The Nine" entered its story mid-stream and challenged viewers to stick around long enough to learn the rest. As terminally depressed, suicidal pencil pusher, Egan Foote, Billingsley was the focal point of the season's fourth episode entitled "Brother's Keeper."