One look at a photo of Ed Begley Jr. and most people experience the same reaction. Instant recognition followed by the realization that they are looking at the face of someone who has been front and center on their TVs and movie screens for decades.
In parts large and small, Begley’s performances are distinctly memorable, perfectly nuanced and understated. Frequently, he presents an expression of quite exasperation, with a look that says, come on, don’t you get it?? More than an actor who, through hard work and talent, has reached a level of rarefied celebrity, Begley, together with his beautiful wife and partner, Rachelle Carson-Begley have successfully channeled their star power to become two of the leading activists for sustainability and green energy.
In fact, Begley is universally considered the de facto poster boy for all things green and green living tips. Starting with his earliest appearances as a guest actor on Maude, Begley has created a Whitman Sampler of memorable roles on some of Hollywood’s most enduring productions. For decades, Begley has lent his unmistakable brand of dead-pan everyman with a cerebral twist, to seminal game changers like Mary Hartman-Mary Hartman and Arrested Development, episodic masterpieces like Six Feet Under and The West Wing, or you may remember him as the six-time Emmy nominated Dr. Victor Ehrlich, from the landmark television series, St. Elsewhere.
On the big screen, Begley has delivered a spectrum of solid performances within the ensemble casts of fearlessly exploratory director, Christopher Guest, with signature roles in Best in Show, A Mighty Wind, For Your Consideration and, what many consider the funniest rock movie ever made, This is Spinal Tap.
Recently, Begley killed it as Dr. Al Chadwick on Guest’s delightfully off-center improvisational HBO series, Family Tree.
All of the elements of his talent, celebrity and avocation merged on his reality television series, Living With Ed on HGTV and Discovery’s Planet Green channel, which also features Rachelle Carson-Begley. BTW, since 2000, the ubiquitous Mr. Begley has been a member of the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Simply stated, if Ed Begley calls, Hollywood picks up the phone.
The Health Beauty Life crew had the distinct pleasure of getting to know Ed and Rachelle at their cozy LA home.
Small and lovely, the house is on an inconspicuous corner in an upscale Los Angeles neighborhood and does not immediately scream “off the grid.” It’s not until we greet Ed himself that the various efficiencies and energy saving elements come to light. The fence that surrounds the entire home is made from recycled plastic milk jugs (but looks exactly like a wooden fence.) The lawns have been replaced by draught tolerant plants, herbs and fruit trees. Even Ed’s dog was rescued, or “recycled” as Ed puts it.
Once on the grounds, it becomes clear that this is an example of permaculture, a system that takes care of the earth by utilizing natural resources while reinvesting materials back into the ecosystem. The result is beautifully lush, smells great and uses very little water.
Entering the home reveals an additional benefit from Ed’s application of easy and affordable energy efficient elements. The living room is unmistakably quiet, as street noise is completely eliminated through double pane windows, recycled denim in the attic and cellulose insulation in all of the exterior walls. The place is calming and Zen, bathed in the soft light of energy efficient bulbs from all interior lamps.
The kitchen makes great use of non-electric Soaltube daylighting and the counter tops are beautiful and sparkly; all rendered from recycled Coke bottles. Of course, all of the appliances are low energy rated and power comes from conventional solar panels and a sun-chasing solar station on the roof.
The backyard is beautiful, well maintained and comfortable and includes a nice sized area of plastic grass for lawn chair sunning. There are well fertilized vegetable gardens aided by the nutrients generated by mulching yard waste and other organic materials.
Irrigation is supplied through an underground 500-gallon tank for the collection of rain water, which is easily distributed to the plants and veggies by an old fashion garden hose.
ON BEGLEY STREET is a weekly web show that chronicles the Begleys’ journey to build the greenest, most sustainable home in North America under LEED Platinum-certified standards. Watch each Sunday as Ed and Rachelle try to balance sustainable living with living comfortably.
Each episode explores sustainable living while balancing comfort with consumption, and the Begleys’ adventures are often heightened by comical mistakes, which often result in their inimitable style of playful bickering. Be sure to keep an eye open as Ed and Rachelle’s high-profile friends stop by, only to be coerced into an afternoon of hard labor.
Of course, there’s lots of how-to information for do-it-yourself projects that are as much about living and building sustainably. Mostly, it’s about the Begleys and their 12-year-old daughter, Hayden, as they struggle to do the right thing for the environment, themselves and the future.
Although the show will often be laugh-out-loud funny, On Begley Street is illuminating, quirky, informative, playful … and very Begley.
Join Team Begley and become a part of the mission to build a better future for planet Earth.
When asked recently about how to affordably change to a more sustainable life, Ed always suggests that people do as he did in 1970 when he was 20 years old and totally broke. And that is to pick the low-hanging fruit first. What he means by that is to do all the stuff that’s cheap & easy:
- Switch to energy-saving light bulbs
- Install an energy-saving thermostat
- Install weather stripping around doors & windows
- Use Public transportation, if available
- Ride your bike, if weather & fitness permit
- Garden at home and compost
Then, if you save money on that (and you will!), you can move up the ladder and do other things that cost a bit more, and save more money (like a solar oven, and good insulation.)
And if you save money from that (and you will!), you can move up again, and who knows, perhaps one day drive an alternative fuel car, or add solar panels!
Meet Rachel Carson
Named for (the other) Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring, the hugely influential book that launched the contemporary environmental movement (and effectively ended the use of the pesticide DDT for agriculture in this country.)
Clearly, it is understating the obvious to point out that she was meant to serve as an ambassador for arguably some of our world’s most important initiatives and together, with Ed is literally changing the world. How great is that?
A shining star in her own right, Rachelle Carson-Begley is an accomplished and hard-working actress with dangerous comic chops.
Check out her demo reel at rachellecarson-begley. com/rachelle-carsons-demo-reel/ and get ready to laugh as she steals the scenes from some of Hollywood’s most bankable leading men.
Green Living Starts At Home
Not content to spend his time as a highly in demand working actor, and in the midst of major construction of his new completely sustainable, fully re-purposed dream house, Ed’s changing the world through his laser focused enthusiasm and practical application of all things green.
He is an entrepreneur with an ever growing line of all-natural products, the latest being “Begley and Bill’s 100% All Natural Sodas – Nature’s Flavours.” Created with his pal Bill “The Flavor Guy” Sabo, the sodas are deliciously green and USDA Certified organic, not to mention Vegan, Kosher, gluten and alcohol free and non-allergenic.
With 10 flavors to choose from, they’re available in traditional flavors like root beer, cola and cream soda, but also in more exotic formulations like Pomegranate and Banana’s Foster. Each is delicious with a delicate touch of nature that comes through in every sip.
Nature’s Flavours has been creating from the essence of nature for over 25 years. With over 8,000 natural and organic products, Nature’s Flavors is a leader in nutritional wellness, bringing life to culinary creations with their pure, honest approach to gathering the natural, nutritional gifts nature provides.
Cultivating right from earth’s rich and abundant natural source, Nature’s Flavors’ Bill Sabo, “The Flavor Guy”, travels across continents to find and learn about the endless array of ingredients and combinations to bring to Nature’s Flavors. From Anise Oil to Ylang Ylang Oil, Nature’s Flavors is always crafting and creating flavors for your wellness and enjoyment.
For more information, we encourage you to visit NaturesFlavors.com.
By: Greg Root
Photos: Allan Carrasco