Ed Begley Jr., starring through Sunday opposite Swoosie Kurtz in "Love Letters" at the Canon Theatre, may be the only performer in the history of the Beverly Hills-based playhouse to report for work via the bus.
For the past two years, the 40-year-old actor, best known for his Emmy-nominated role as Dr. Victor Ehrlich on "St. Elsewhere," has refused to drive a gasoline-powered car as part of his personal crusade for a cleaner environment. "Love Letters," his first local stage outing in a decade, requires a two-hour RTD round trip from his North Hollywood home.
"I get around by bus and my bike about half the time, and the other half in an electric car I bought from a man in Illinois who makes them," he says. "It only goes for a range of 40 miles, and only 40 miles per hour. But it will do for getting groceries, and taking my recyclables to the recycling center. And I'm going to be getting a car that goes 60 miles."
The son of Academy Award-winning actor Ed Begley may have spent much of his early career as a stand-up comedian in nightclubs and concert arenas, but he is dead serious about the current plight of planet Earth. "Seventy-five percent of air pollution comes from mobile pollution, such as people driving one car. That's got to stop," he says. "We've got to take responsibility as citizens."
A board member of numerous environmental organizations, Begley has just finished writing the script for an environmentally themed movie. Soon to be released is the comedy "Meet the Applegates," his first feature since "She-Devil." And he'll be seen in the fall on NBC in the TV series based on the hit film "Parenthood."
While the RTD is not known for its convenience, the actor-activist has learned to use his bus time wisely. "I read or study scripts," he says. "When we filmed 'In the Best Interest of the Child' (a TV movie about suspected child molestation that aired Sunday), I thought taking the bus out to Alhambra every day would be a nightmare. But I studied my script and came more prepared than I'd ever been for anything!"