In a world brimming with tales of Hollywood glamour, activism, and electric eels, Ed Begley Jr.’s life story unfolds in a way that is uniquely captivating. His memoir, “TO THE TEMPLE OF TRANQUILITY…AND STEP ON IT!” takes readers on a wild ride through his experiences with iconic figures, environmentalism, and personal transformation. In this Q&A, Maria Spanadoris sits down with the legendary actor and eco-warrior to dive deep into the pages of his book and explore the fascinating journey that is Ed Begley Jr.’s life.
MS: Your memoir, “TO THE TEMPLE OF TRANQUILITY…AND STEP ON IT!” covers a wide range of humorous and poignant stories from your life. Can you share with us how you decided on the title and what it signifies to you?
EB: My friend Richard Stahl was a wonderful film, TV and stage actor, and particularly gifted in the realm of improv. I believe he uttered the line after jumping in a taxi to get to the actual Temple of Tranquility, an ashram somewhere in the far east.
MS: You’ve had an extensive career in both film and television, working with some iconic names in the industry. How do you manage to balance your acting career with your passion for environmental activism?
EB: It’s a challenge. I grew up in a day were a limo ride or a private jet were considered wonderful things. As were private men’s clubs, and any number of old lifestyle choices that were celebrated in most of the circles I traveled in. Fortunately, that has changed… But it did not happen overnight.
MS: Your environmental activism dates back to 1970, long before it became a mainstream concern. What initially sparked your interest in this field, and how have you seen attitudes toward environmentalism evolve over the years?
EB: I got involved in 1970 with the first Earth Day because I was fed up with the Smog. We could not go outside to play many days, and you could just feel it sear your lungs. In addition to air, water was the other thing that got people’s attention. We had seen the Santa Barbara oil spill in California and the Cuyahoga River catching fire outside Cleveland, and many of us sought to affect a change.
MS: Your experiences with Marlon Brando and electric eels sound intriguing. Could you tell us more about that unusual encounter and what you learned from it?
EB: I rode my bike up to Mulholland drive to visit him one day, as I often did. Marlon’s topic for the day shocked me. Literally, he wanted to talk about electric eels, but not about protecting the species.… He intended to use electric eels as a power source to run a home. To this day, I am not certain if he was trying to wind me up. I think he finally gave up on this crazy scheme, and I’m glad to have played a role in doing that.
MS: Your memoir contains stories involving well-known figures like The Beatles, Monty Python, and Richard Pryor. Could you share one of these encounters that left a lasting impression on you and why?
EB: Yes. Meeting Cesar Chavez was one of the high points of my young life. I first got involved with his cause in the mid-60s and I had the honor of being one of his pallbearers upon his death. I continue to help the United Farm Workers to this day.
MS: You’ve been a dedicated vegan for many years. How has this lifestyle choice impacted your health, creativity, and overall well-being?
EB: It’s one of the most simple and important things we can do to reduce our carbon footprint. The fork is one of the most dangerous weapons we will ever wield. Going meatless just one day a week can have a big impact.
MS: Your commitment to sustainability is admirable, from using a solar-powered car to advocating for eco-friendly practices. How do you encourage others to adopt more sustainable habits in their daily lives?
EB: Do the cheap and easy things first. Energy-saving light bulbs, an energy-efficient thermostat, bike riding, public transportation, home gardening, home composting. All of these choices are very inexpensive and can have a big impact.
MS: “TO THE TEMPLE OF TRANQUILITY…AND STEP ON IT!” delves into themes of addiction, failure, redemption, and personal growth. Could you discuss a pivotal moment in your life that led to a positive transformation?
EB: I almost died from drugs and alcohol in September of 1978. I wound up in the hospital, and my one-year-old daughter couldn’t hold me because of my condition. That was the bottom for me, and it made me finally commit to getting sober.
MS: Environmental issues are more pressing than ever. How do you see your role as an activist evolving in the face of these challenges, and what actions do you believe individuals and society should take to address them?
EB: I’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t work these past 53 years. So, I’m happy to share what I’ve learned that can protect the environment and save us all money.
MS: Your memoir includes stories of resilience and overcoming obstacles. What message do you hope readers will take away from your book, particularly in terms of navigating life’s ups and downs?
EB: Try not to rush so much, even in the worthy effort of protecting the environment. We need our quiet time to be successful with any challenge.
Ed Begley Jr.’s journey is not just a story; it’s a testament to the power of resilience, transformation, and unwavering commitment. In “TO THE TEMPLE OF TRANQUILITY…AND STEP ON IT!” readers can explore a life that seamlessly weaves together the worlds of Hollywood and environmental activism, providing valuable insights and inspiration for all. Join us as we embark on a voyage through the remarkable life of a man who has not only left an indelible mark on the silver screen but has also championed the cause of a greener, more sustainable world.
Maria Spanadoris an experienced online writer with a passion for general entertainment stories. As a Greek mom, Maria brings her unique perspective to her writing, infusing her work with warmth and humor. She has been writing online for over 20 years, starting her career at thecelebritycafe.com. Since then, Maria has honed her skills as a writer, developing a talent for crafting engaging and informative content that keeps her readers coming back for more. Whether she's covering the latest celebrity gossip or writing about her own experiences as a mom, Maria's writing is always relatable and engaging.