Born on 17 February 1962, Lou Diamond Phillips is an American Filipino actor, writer and director best known for his performances in the films “La Bamba” (1987), “Young Guns” (1988), and “Stand and Deliver” (1988), among several others.
The Philippine-born actor grew up in Texas, US, and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in drama. Lou became active in theatre after college and appeared in several productions at Stage West Theatre in Fort Worth, Texas, before debuting his film career in the low budget film “Trespasses”.
He then went on to become a famous Hollywood young star after his role in “La Bamba”. Lou Phillips followed that breakout role quickly with another performance that earned him his first acting award. He made his Broadway debut with the 1996 revival of “The King and I”.
The actor is also a writer, and asides from writing the screenplay for HBO’s “Dangerous Touch”, Aethon Books announced in 2019 that it would be publishing his debut novel “Tinderbox: Soldier of Indira”, a science fiction retelling of the Hans Christian Andersen story of the same name, illustrated by his wife, Yvonne. Let us now dive into his 37 years illustrious career while we also learn more about his personal life. Here are ten facts about Lou Diamond Phillips.
10 facts about Lou Diamond Phillips
- Lou is a man of many origins and heritage, and while he was born in the Philippines, he is also of Scotch-Irish, Cherokee, Filipino and Hawaiian descent.
- His father named him after the United States Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sergeant Lou Diamond and his surname comes from his stepfather.
- Despite having been offered scholarships to the US Naval Academy and Yale, Lou decided to attend the University of Texas at Arlington.
- He adores American actor Robert De Niro so much that he once borrowed a bellhop’s uniform to sneak up to a hotel room in order to meet De Niro.
- Phillips won a Best Supporting Actor Independent Spirit award for his performance in the 1989 film “Stand and Deliver”.
- He won the 2009 edition of NBC’s “I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!” and donated the winnings to the Art Has Heart Foundation, which provides college scholarships to low-income students.
- He defeated American rapper Coolio in the Season 1 finale of “Rachael vs Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off” in 2012, winning $50,000 for the charity Share Our Strength which strives to end childhood hunger in America.
- Lou Phillips has been married thrice, and he has three daughters from his second marriage, and one daughter from his third marriage, making him the father of four kids.
- In 1996, he won the Theater World Award for his performance in the stage drama “The King and I”.
- According to Celebrity Net Worth, Lou Diamon Phillips currently has a net worth of $6 million.
Early life and education – Lou Diamond background
Lou Diamond was born on 17 February 1962 at the Subic Bay Naval Station in the Philippines to Lucita Umayam Arañas and Gerald Amon Upchurch (1935–1963), a Marine KC-130 crew chief. His mother, a native of Candelaria, Zambales, is Filipina, and his father was an American of Scots-Irish and Native American descent. Phillips was named after the US Marine Leland ‘Lou’ Diamond, and he took his stepfather’s surname, Phillips, after his biological father died.
Phillips was raised in Texas, and he graduated from Flour Bluff High School in Corpus Christi in 1980. He turned down scholarships from the US Naval Academy and Yale to attend the University of Texas at Arlington. There he bagged a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Drama, and was active in drama club productions and a local comedy troupe, which consequently gave him an early stage debut.
Career – Lou Diamond Phillips movies and TV shows
Lou Diamond Phillips had his eyes set on the stars from a young age, therefore, he went into chasing opportunities right after graduation. He started out by featuring in small stage projects and transitioned into film. Now with a career of almost four decades under his belt, Lou can be dubbed a legend in the industry, with recognitions and a fine body of works that speak for themselves.
From film to stage drama, Broadway, and television series, Lou has been there and done that. Also, while the actor has remained relevant in the industry, he had his most successful works almost two decades or more in the past. Here is what you should know about the most famous Lou Diamond Phillips movies and television shows:
Lou stayed actively involved in the theatre after college, appearing in various productions at Stage West Theatre, Fort Worth, Texas. In 1987, he got his big break in Hollywood with a lead role in “La Bamba”, a film where he played ill-fated rocker Ritchie Valens. His performance in this biopic-turned-cult-hit soon made him one of Hollywood’s most promising young stars.
“La Bamba” is a 1987 American biographical film that follows the life and career of Chicano rock ‘n’ roll star Ritchie Valens. The film also covers the effect that Valens’ career had on the lives of his half-brother Bob Morales, his girlfriend Donna Ludwig, and the rest of his family.
Young Guns and Stand and Deliver
Phillips continued on his path of determination from the moment he got his first major film role. He starred in “Stand and Deliver” and had even completed production before his debut film “La Bamba” was released. His dynamic performance in “Stand and Deliver”, as a gang member whose life is changed by a tenacious and caring math teacher, earned him a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor, however, he didn’t win the award that year.
Still in 1988, Lou portrayed yet another outlaw in “Young Guns”, and secured a place among a host of young Hollywood heartthrobs that included Kiefer Sutherland, Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez. The film had a fair commercial success at the time, but its 1990 rerun, on the other hand, didn’t do so well.
Just like seasonality of nature, Phillips had to endure a few underwhelming years in the early 1990s. He appeared in a couple of unsuccessful projects before returning to the box office later in 1996 in “Courage Under Fire”, which starred Denzel Washington and Meg Ryan in key roles and made $100 million worldwide.
The King and I
They say when it gets tough, one can always return to their roots and restrategize. This was what Lou did when he went back to the stage in 1996. Phillips debuted on Broadway as the King in the 1996 Broadway production of “The King and I”. His role earned him a Tony Award nomination as well as a Theatre World Award win.
Phillips spoke of his Broadway stint as an endeavour indicative of his range as a thespian. In his words, “Hollywood will put you in a box, so to speak. Some people will have seen you in La Bamba or another dramatic film and think, OK, that’s what Lou does. But they don’t really have an idea of the range or diversity that I can bring to a project.”
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Having made his TV debut in 1985, Lou made a return to television in 2001 as a guest star on two episodes on the action-drama series “24”. Recounting how the role came about, Phillip said, “We got the call from the people at 24, saying, ‘Listen, we don’t have a script yet, but the episodes are going to revolve around Kiefer, Dennis Hopper and a role that we’d like you to do.’ That’s really all I needed to hear. So I made one phone call to Kiefer’s cell phone on the set and said: ‘Listen man, they want me to come on the show. Is that cool with you?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, c’mon, let’s go!'”
Lou has appeared in several other projects both in film and TV in recent years. He has also had his fair share of reality shows like “Rachael vs Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off” in 2012 and the 2009 edition of NBC’s “I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!”
Phillips is not only an actor. When he is not on stage or behind cameras, he likes to flex his skills at poker. Lou has been a poker player since his college days, but he took it a notch higher in 2009 by entering the California State Poker Championship. He finished 31st out of 403 contestants. He also went on to compete in the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, where he earned over $30,000 in winnings.
Lou Diamond Phillips personal life has not been without its events. More than anything, his relationships have been the most talked-about aspect of his personal life. The actor has been married thrice, with a total of four children from these unions. Let’s meet his spouses, previous and present.
Lou Diamond Phillips spouses
The actor’s first attempt at marriage happened when he was 25 years old. He has since had two other marriages, and another engagement that didn’t go all the way. As expected, Lou has had his time in court over divorce-related legal battles. We will shed more light on these and more.
While he was making the movie “Trespasses” in 1986, Phillips met assistant director Julie Cypher who became his first wife. They got married on 17 September 1987 and divorced on 5 August 1990. Julie, Lou Diamond Phillips first wife, will come out as a lesbian after their divorce and begin to date Melissa Etheridge. Shortly after the divorce, Phillips got briefly engaged to actress Jennifer Tilly, but they both called it quits before long.
In 1994, he married Penthouse model and television extra Kelly Phillips (nee Preston), with whom he has three daughters, Grace and Isabella (twins born in October 1997), and Lili born in September 1999. They separated in 2003 and their divorce was only finalised in July 2007, due to a difficult mediation.
Yvonne Boismier is a popular makeup artist, She is the third and current wife of Lou Diamond Phillips. They began dating a year after his separation from ex-wife Kelly Phillips. They got married in August 2007 shortly after his divorce from his previous marriage was completed. Their daughter, Indigo Sanara was born in October 2007.
Lou Diamond Phillips net worth
Phillips has been into acting for 37 years and has made a fortune while at it. He has also earned a fair amount playing the game of poker. It is not known exactly how much cost he incurred in the years of legal battle during his divorce, however, one can expect it to be substantial. Today, according to Celebrity Net Worth, Phillips has a net worth of $6 million.
Latest news on Lou Diamond Phillips
Phillip currently voices the character of Mayor Sancho Santamaria in “Trese” (2021-), a Philippine anime-influenced streaming television series based on the Filipino komik series of the same name. Also, he was among the leading “Prodigal Son” cast, a Fox Broadcasting Company procedural drama television series that aired between September 2019 and May 2021.
He was recently interviewed by Esquire and reflected on his career and various role opportunities. Phillip questioned the increasing scrutiny around actors playing characters outside their own race or ethnicity. “You have to wonder why certain people want to draw such harsh lines on authenticity when it comes to the ethnic community,” he said.
He defended his past role as Ritchie Valens in La Bamba, saying, “For La Bamba, Louis Valdez introduced me to Cesar Chavez. I marched with Cesar, and I fasted with him. I go straight to the community, and I ask for their blessing. And I got the family’s blessing.” “La Bamba” recently returned to cinema screenings 34 years after its release.
59-year-old Lou Diamond Phillips has had a fulfilled career in film, stage and television. His name will go down in history as one of the best at the craft. Ironically, not all great careers are decorated with laurels, but that takes nothing away from the ingenuity and accomplishments therein. In other words, though without many awards as one may imagine or expect, Lou Phillips’ place among the all-time greats is concrete. To that, we say hoorah!
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