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Ed Begley Jr.’s environmentalism made him a Hollywood outcast

Ed Begley Jr. admits his activism hurt his career over the years.

The “St. Elsewhere” star claims his career stalled in the ’90s due to his longtime passion for protecting the environment.

“I gave people the creeps,” he exclusively told Page Six in a new interview. “People were afraid that I was going to point at them exiting their limo or their SUV and go, ‘How can you drive a car?’”

Ironically, the actor, now 73, says that he never shamed people about their choices.

“I was like, ‘This is what I do and if you want to do it, I’ll tell you how I did it.’”

Ed Begley Jr. on a bike.
Begley Jr. has been cycling to events for years.

Ed Begley Jr., showing off his solar panels.
He even installed solar panels on his home.


Ed Begley Jr's garden.
And the actor grows much of his own food.


Begley Jr. says that being photographed cycling to the Oscars one year was catnip for paparazzi – and just enforced the image of him being a militant greenie, to the detriment of his career.

“They [agents] said, ‘You’ve got to back off a little bit because, you know, it’s hard to get you a job,’” he recalled.

The actor also remembers being pulled aside on the set of 1994’s “The Pagemaster” and thought he was about to be fired. Instead, a producer was worried that Begley Jr. would make a fuss because he was set to film a scene driving a car.

Ed Begley Jr. in "St. Elsewhere."
He first hit it big on the TV show “St. Elsewhere.”
©NBC/Courtesy Everett Collection

Providing another example, Begley Jr. recalled being on a separate film set where the crew was in a tizzy because recycling bins hadn’t been brought out yet.

He told us people on set were convinced that he would raise a ruckus – and his work began to dwindle throughout the ’90s.

“[Director] Joel Schumacher gave me two weeks on ‘Batman Forever’ and Brian Grazer and Ron Howard gave me six weeks on ‘Greedy.’ That’s it,” he remembered. “[Then] Chris Guest bailed me out of movie jail with ‘Best in Show’ and I’ve been working ever since.”

Since becoming a part of Guest’s repertoire of actors, Begley Jr. has also had memorable turns in shows like “Arrested Development,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Better Call Saul.”

Ed Begley Jr. in "Best in Show."
Begley Jr. says that Chris Guest reignited his career with “Best in Show.”
Warner Bros. Pictures

“I loved every scene,” he says of working on the “Breaking Bad” spinoff series. “Every word I uttered on the five years I did ‘Better Call Saul.’ I just loved every minute of it, every moment on set.”

The “She-Devil” star says he was able to survive those fallow years because of his green lifestyle.

Rhea Seehorn, Ed Begley Jr., in "Better Call Saul."
The actor also played a recurring character on “Better Call Saul.”
©AMC/courtesy Everett Collection

“Bills are very low because of all the stuff I did,” he explained. “I grow a lot of my own food, I collect my rainwater, I have my own electricity, I heat my water with the sun. All of it makes for a very inexpensive life.”

And Begley Jr. – who has a memoir coming out in October – is decidedly non-militant and non-judgey when it comes to other people’s green efforts.

“Just do what you can, Whatever you can afford, do it today,” he advised. “You know it’s not all or nothing, you do what you can … everybody has to do what they can, what they can afford, what you have time for and there’s a lot that everybody can do now.”

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