Star Trek: Enterprise’s Most Interesting Character Making A Return?

John Billingsley says he would happily return to the role of Star Trek: Enterprise's Phlox, but not as a regular cast member.

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

Star Trek Enterprise Phlox
John Billingsley as Phlox on Star Trek: Enterprise

These days, Star Trek is bigger than ever, and hit shows like Star Trek: Strange New Worlds have brought back iconic characters like Kirk, Spock, and Uhura with new actors portraying them. Meanwhile, shows like Star Trek: Picard and Star Trek: Lower Decks have brought back original Trek actors to reprise their roles in new stories and settings. Now, in an interview with Trek Movie, Star Trek: Enterprise actor John Billingsley (who played Dr. Phlox on the show) expressed that “I don’t know if I’d want to be a regular again” but “I’d certainly go back as a guest or recurring” character on one of the modern live-action shows.

Why did this veteran Star Trek: Enterprise actor give such a qualified answer about returning as Dr. Phlox? As he mentions in the interview, “the makeup is tiring” enough, but the really annoying thing about portraying the character was that “they put these gargantuan contact lenses in your eyes” to create the alien look for his character. And because these lenses cover the entire eye, “you’re more or less blind all day.”

If Star Trek: Enterprise actor John Billingsley returned to play Dr. Phlox, he’d want to avoid being a regular character because that would mean getting up early for all the makeup and then walking around practically blind for the rest of the day. The longtime actor wouldn’t want to do that for just any role, especially if it was a minor one. But he does mention in the interview that “I’d have to feel like it was interesting” to get back into character, so maybe he is just waiting for the right script to come his way.

John Billingsley as Phlox on Star Trek: Enterprise

While Billingsley is open to reprising his Star Trek: Enterprise character if the story is right, he actually turned down an opportunity to return to Star Trek as someone other than Dr. Phlox. During the interview, he mentioned how he was asked to audition for “a small, potentially recurring character” on the animated series Star Trek: Prodigy, but he ultimately turned the opportunity down for very practical reasons. As he put it, “if you’re getting scale for voiceover work, and you’re not a name, it’s not a lot of money.”

Billingsley is convinced that the casting director who decided to ask him to audition was not aware that the actor was a regular on Star Trek: Enterprise and played the beloved Dr. Phlox. He politely asked his own people to respond to the audition request by reminding the casting director of who Billingsley is and letting the studio know he’d be “happy to be asked” to “reprise my character or do something more substantive,” but when it came to what he was being offered, “I don’t think I want to audition for a small part.”

To make matters worse, a slight miscommunication on Billingsley’s part had many fans wondering if the Star Trek: Enterprise actor would be returning to a live-action role on Strange New Worlds, either as Dr. Phlox or a different character. The slightly-embarrassed actor admitted during the interview that he most likely got the names of Star Trek: Prodigy and Star Trek: Strange New Worlds confused and may have accidentally said he was auditioning for the live-action show rather than the animated one. Still, the sheer strength and persistence of these rumors of his return mean one thing: the fans love Dr. Phlox even more than his three wives do, and they want to see him exploring strange new worlds once again.