Lou Diamond Phillips: Acclaimed Actor, Director, and Writer
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Lou Diamond Phillips is an acclaimed American actor, director, and writer, best known for his breakthrough role as Ritchie Valens in the biographical film "La Bamba" (1987) and his Golden Globe-nominated performance in "Stand and Deliver" (1988).

 

Lou Diamond Phillips' Early Life and Upbringing

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Lou Diamond Phillips was born on February 17, 1962, at the Subic Bay Naval Station in the Philippines to a Filipino mother, Lucita Aranas, and an American father of Scottish-Irish descent, Gerald Upchurch. He was named after the decorated US Marine Leland "Lou" Diamond. After his father's death, Phillips was adopted by his stepfather and took his surname. Phillips grew up in Texas, graduating from Flour Bluff High School in Corpus Christi in 1980 before earning his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Drama from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1985. He was actively involved in theater productions during his college years, laying the groundwork for his future acting career.
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Lou Diamond Phillips' Breakthrough: Portraying Ritchie Valens in 'La Bamba'

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Lou Diamond Phillips' breakthrough role was portraying Ritchie Valens in the 1987 biographical film "La Bamba." The film chronicled the life of the pioneering Mexican-American rock and roll singer Ritchie Valens, who died tragically in a plane crash at the age of 17. Phillips' powerful and nuanced performance as the young musician earned him widespread critical acclaim and launched his career as a leading actor. His portrayal of Valens was praised for capturing the singer's charisma, passion for music, and cultural significance as a Latino artist breaking into the mainstream.
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From Acting to Directing: Lou Diamond Phillips' Dual Talent

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In addition to his acclaimed acting career, Lou Diamond Phillips has also made a mark as a director in film and television. He has helmed episodes for various popular TV series, showcasing his versatility behind the camera. Some of the notable shows Phillips has directed episodes for include The Twilight Zone, Resurrection Blvd., The Outer Limits, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Fear the Walking Dead, Longmire, Bull, Prodigal Son, The Cleaning Lady, Kung Fu, East New York, and All Rise. His directorial work spans genres like drama, crime, action, and supernatural, demonstrating his ability to tackle diverse material. Phillips has also directed a few feature films, such as the 1994 dramas Sioux City and Dangerous Touch, the latter of which he also co-wrote. His experience as an actor has likely informed his approach to directing, allowing him to effectively guide performances and bring nuanced storytelling to the screen. While acting remains his primary focus, Phillips' foray into directing has added another dimension to his multifaceted career in the entertainment industry.
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Lou Diamond Phillips' Broadway Debut: 'The King and I' Revival in 1996

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In 1996, Lou Diamond Phillips made his Broadway debut in the critically acclaimed revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "The King and I." He portrayed King Mongkut of Siam opposite Donna Murphy as Anna Leonowens. Phillips' powerful performance as the stubborn yet charismatic King earned him a Tony Award nomination for Best Actor in a Musical. The Australian production, directed by Christopher Renshaw, had previously played in Adelaide in 1991 before transferring to Broadway, making it the first Australian staging to do so. Phillips' portrayal was widely praised, and he won a Theatre World Award for his Broadway debut. The revival was a major success, sweeping the 1996 awards season with wins for Best Revival at the Tony and Drama Desk Awards. It played for 780 performances until February 1998.
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Acclaimed Actor's Life Journey (Photos)

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Lou Diamond Phillips' Award-Winning Performances

Lou Diamond Phillips has received several prestigious awards and honors throughout his accomplished career, recognizing his outstanding performances and contributions to the entertainment industry.
Award/HonorWorkYear
Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting MaleStand and Deliver1989
Golden Globe Nomination for Best Supporting ActorStand and Deliver1989
Tony Award Nomination for Best Actor in a MusicalThe King and I (Broadway revival)1996
Theatre World Award for Outstanding Broadway DebutThe King and I1996
Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Debut PerformanceThe King and I1996
Phillips' breakout role in the critically acclaimed film "Stand and Deliver" earned him a Golden Globe nomination and an Independent Spirit Award win for Best Supporting Actor in 1989. His powerful portrayal of Ritchie Valens in "La Bamba" also garnered widespread acclaim. On Broadway, Phillips received a Tony Award nomination for Best Actor in a Musical for his performance as King Mongkut in the 1996 revival of "The King and I." He also won the Theatre World Award for Outstanding Broadway Debut and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Debut Performance for the same role. These accolades highlight Phillips' versatility as an actor, seamlessly transitioning between film, television, and theater, and his ability to deliver compelling performances that resonate with audiences and critics alike.
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Lou Diamond Phillips' Filmography

Lou Diamond Phillips has an extensive and diverse filmography spanning over three decades in film, television, and theater. Some of his most acclaimed and popular works are highlighted below:
YearTitleRole
1987La BambaRitchie Valens
1988Stand and DeliverAngel Guzman
1988Young GunsJose Chavez y Chavez
1990Young Guns IIJose Chavez y Chavez
1996Courage Under FireStaff Sgt. John Monfriez
1998The Big HitCisco
1999Brokedown PalaceRoy Knox
2008CheJuan Valdez
2015The 33Luis "Don Lucho" Urzua
2012-2017Longmire (TV Series)Henry Standing Bear
2019-2021Prodigal Son (TV Series)Lt. Gil Arroyo
Phillips' breakthrough role was portraying Ritchie Valens in the 1987 biopic "La Bamba," which launched his career. He earned critical acclaim and award nominations for "Stand and Deliver" (1988) and "The King and I" Broadway revival (1996). Other notable films include "Young Guns," "Courage Under Fire," "The Big Hit," "Brokedown Palace," "Che," and "The 33." On television, he had main roles in "Longmire" and "Prodigal Son."
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Lou Diamond Phillips (Interviews)

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Lou Diamond Phillips on the 35th Anniversary of “La Bamba” - YouTube
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Personal Life and Legal Issues

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Lou Diamond Phillips has been married three times and has four children from his marriages. His first marriage was to Julie Cypher in 1987, which ended in divorce in 1990 after Cypher came out as a lesbian. He then briefly dated and was engaged to actress Jennifer Tilly. In 1994, Phillips married model and actress Kelly Phillips, with whom he had three daughters - twins Grace and Isabella born in 1997, and Lili born in 1999. They separated in 2004 and divorced in 2007. Since 2007, Phillips has been married to makeup artist Yvonne Boismier. They have one daughter together, Indigo Sanara, born in 2007. Phillips has faced some legal troubles, including arrests for disturbing the peace in 2006 and reckless driving in 2017. In 2006, he was charged with domestic battery against Boismier and sentenced to probation and community service.
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Advocacy and Military Support

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Lou Diamond Phillips is actively involved in advocacy and activism for Native American rights and the military community. As someone of Native American (Zuni/Cherokee) descent, Phillips is a strong advocate for Native American rights and has supported various organizations promoting Native American culture and education. He has worked closely with groups like the Native American Rights Fund, National Museum of the American Indian, and the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian. Given his military background as a former Navy brat, Phillips is also deeply committed to supporting the armed forces and veterans. He frequently goes on USO tours to entertain troops and has represented organizations like the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) and the VA (Department of Veterans Affairs). According to Phillips himself on Twitter, "most of my support comes through the many military organizations I've represented."
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Closing Thoughts

Lou Diamond Phillips has had a remarkable career spanning film, television, and theater. While he is best known for his breakthrough biographical roles in "La Bamba" and "Stand and Deliver," Phillips has consistently taken on diverse and challenging projects. From gritty dramas like "Courage Under Fire" and "The Big Hit" to historical epics like "Che" and "The 33," he has showcased his versatility as an actor. Beyond acting, Phillips has also made a mark as a director, helming episodes of popular television series across various genres, including "Longmire," "Prodigal Son," and "The Cleaning Lady." His directorial work has allowed him to explore storytelling from a different perspective, further expanding his creative horizons. Despite his success and acclaim, Phillips has maintained a relatively low-key personal life, focusing on his family and various advocacy efforts, particularly for Native American rights and supporting the military community. His commitment to using his platform for positive change reflects his grounded nature and desire to make a meaningful impact beyond the entertainment industry. As he continues to take on new projects, both in front of and behind the camera, Lou Diamond Phillips remains a respected and multifaceted talent, seamlessly transitioning between mediums and genres while staying true to his artistic integrity and personal values.
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