Philip Anglim, Holy Man
Killed on DS9, He Was Resurrected By Fans
by Michelle Erica Green
It's a truism of Star Trek that being killed off doesn't mean staying dead. Spock came back. Tasha Yar came back. Dax came back, albeit in a different body. Yet fans waged the most aggressive lobbying campaign for the return of Vedek Bareil, the beloved Bajoran spiritual leader played by Philip Anglim on Deep Space Nine.
Introspective, peaceful Bareil Antos was featured in a half-dozen episodes, becoming the lover of Kira and the adversary of corrupt Vedek Winn. He gave up his ambition to become Bajor's Kai, the highest position in the religious system, in order to protect the memory of his revered predecessor Opaka. Then the writers seemed to run out of ideas for Bareil, and after allowing him to complete a peace treaty between Bajor and Cardassia, they let the character die in the medical ethics drama "Life Support."
A small but intensely loyal group of fans immediately began to campaign for his return. Their devotion appeared to surprise the studio - indeed, it appeared to surprise Anglim, a talented stage actor best known outside of Star Trek fandom for his roles in The Thorn Birds miniseries and an acclaimed television production of The Elephant Man. Finally, the writers created "Resurrection," an episode which brought Bareil from the "Mirror, Mirror" universe to meet Kira. The ribbon-wearing Friends of Vedek Bareil were delighted, and so was Anglim.
A Holy Man
There must be something in Anglim's intense demeanor that makes casting directors see him as a religious leader: he played men of the cloth in both The Thorn Birds and Testament. Still, Anglim found it a challenge to play Bareil, "a being of unalloyed goodness," since he considers himself "all too human and flawed."
"What I found most interesting about the way Bareil was written and conceived, and what I found such a pleasure, was the lack of pomposity, the lack of self-satisfaction and self-righteousness that goes with so many people who claim the moral high ground," says the actor. (Interestingly, Louise Fletcher, who played Bareil's nemesis, says nearly the opposite about her character; she enjoyed exposing the hypocrisy of the sanctimonious Winn.)
Anglim, who feels Bareil had "a kind of perfect simplicity," seems to have found role models for his character on the set of Deep Space Nine. "What was constantly absent was cynicism," he notes on his web page. "Everyone loved the work, loved the series...I have never been among such an assemblage of perfectionists. And idealists."
It wasn't clear at the beginning whether Bareil's motives were entirely selfless. Though he was evidently more honest than Winn - who tried to have him assassinated during his initial appearance in "In the Hands of the Prophets" - he very much wanted to succeed Opaka as Kai. He was also obviously interested in Kira beyond the desire to debate theology with her. But when forced to make a choice in "The Collaborator" between his ambitions and the values of the Bajoran people, he chose to withdraw from the elections rather than risk sullying Opaka's name.
Bareil had a complicated relationship with Captain Sisko, for whom he had considerable respect but less reverence than many Bajorans held for the Emissary. Kira found some of his beliefs to be radical - for one thing, he didn't grab people's ears to examine the spiritual essence contained in the Pah - but Sisko once remarked that Bareil was a shrewd politician as well.
Then a shuttle disaster nearly killed the Vedek, leaving Dr. Bashir no choice but to replace part of his brain with artificial implants. Bareil permitted the surgery because he was determined to complete Bajor's peace treaty with Cardassia, even though he knew Winn would get the credit for it. Afterwards, finding his feelings had been stripped away by the surgery, he found death preferable to a numb life, though Kira was devastated.
"Working with both Nana and Louise was terrific," recalls Anglim. "They are both so accomplished and generous that one forgets to act and to simply be, which is what we are all looking for. I have so many great memories of my work with them."
A fan of the original series, Anglim finds "the limitless possibilities of science fiction to be what gives it its greatness and depth. To be unbound by the realities and conventions of this world, or to chose only those realities and conventions one wants...this is what gives SF is imaginative power and complexity." So he was sorry to see Bareil pass, though not as upset at the group calling themselves Friends of Vedek Bareil, which immediately began lobbying for his return.
"The community of people who appreciated my work on the show has been peerlessly kind and stalwart. Nothing pleased me more than their passionate work to resurrect Bareil," states Anglim. "I was and am in awe of their energy and dedication. It was a validation that few actors are luck enough to receive."
The actor feels he owes "Resurrection" to those fans, "and I am only sad that the journey ended there." In the episode which brought him back, Anglim played Bareil Antos from the mirror universe, where Kira's evil twin The Intendant sought absolute power over Bajor. She plotted to steal an Orb from the chapel on Deep Space Nine by sending a duplicate of her own double's lover - a thief, a liar, seemingly the opposite of Vedek Bareil.
"All of those colors and dimensions that we call heroic or villainous are morally ambiguous," reflects Anglim, who adds that the pure first Bareil is an exception. "There are larger and smaller forces of heroism or villainy in all people and all roles. Life is ambiguous, after all, and most heroes do not see themselves as heroic, and most villains do not see themselves as villainous."
The alternate Bareil may have seduced Kira out of opportunism, but both her influence and an Orb vision from the Prophets worked to complicate his plans. When the Intendant arrived and demanded that he betray Kira, Bareil refused, acknowleding that he didn't fit into her universe but apparently changed by his vision of redemption from the Prophets. He returned to his own universe with the Intendant, but without the Orb he had intended to steal.
"I've been lucky to play a number of roles that make up a mosaic of extreme human experience," observes Anglim, noting that each part offered "something different, but equally challenging and important." Among his favorites, he names Peer Gynt, Macbeth, Gallimard in M. Butterfly, and The Elephant Man, whom he terms "all men in the extremity and the most explosive area of the human experience."
"As to a choice between camera or stage, both go together for me, each excels in a different kind of presentation of the human condition," he adds. "Fortunately I've had the good luck to work in both."
Work at the Millennium
San Francisco-bred Anglim had intended to become a veterinarian, but after a teacher asked him to appear in a play, he took a degree in English literature from Yale and continued in acting. What contributed to the change? "This is an area that I am not particularly articulate in explaining or revealing," he admits. "Perhaps the best way to talk about it is to look at the numbers of lives one is allowed, in a sense, to live, certainly to experience. I believe it was Gide who talked about his jealousy of actors because for them 'everything that can be is.' Please understand that of the inner workings of the actor, those impulses and attractions and forces remain somewhat unavailable to dissection."
Having compensated for his interest in animals by keeping a cattle farm in Tennessee, Anglim went on to appear in dozens of plays, winning a Dramalogue award for Lonely Planet and the Obie and Drama Desk awards for The Elephant Man. He starred in the latter on television in 1982, earning nominations for both Emmy and Golden Globe awards. He was also featured in the films Haunted Summer (as Lord Byron) and The Man Inside (as Rolf Gruel), in addition to his work in The Thorn Birds.
"My goal is to continue to find work that offers complexity and depth and truth, and to fulfill it to the very best of my ability," says the actor, who also appeared in the Dallas reunion War of the Ewings and played Frank Black's brother Tom on Millennium. In that dark episode, "Sacrament," Tom's wife is kidnapped by a sex offender, and his niece Jordan reveals that she shares some of her father's premonitory abilities.
Anglim has appeared at a few Star Trek conventions, but the bulk of his public appearances are centered on raising money for The Lewis County Children's Fund, a charity he founded in 1992 to help the children of the community near his farm in Tennessee. LCCF provides funds for medical, dental, and other necessary care for youth in need of assistance, referred by the public health department.
Says Anglim, "I am very gratified by the help The Lewis County Children's Fund is giving. Every week there is some new small - and sometimes large - triumph in helping a child to heal and achieve. And I am so grateful to all those who have contributed to making the fund such an important part of life in Lewis County, a part of the world and a community that I love very much."
OPAFA, the Official Philip Anglim Fan Association, raises money for the charity and maintains a web page at http://www.angelfire.com/mo/gutterduck. Many of the people who worked to resurrect Bareil are involved in the organization. "The people at the heart of my fan appreciation group are the most decent and generous and supportive anyone could ask for," he concludes. "The ongoing kindness and attention of the fans has been an invaluable, unquantifiable pleasure and fulfillment for me."