Sept. 01--LAS CRUCES -- Lou Diamond Phillips is best known for his iconic movie and TV roles, but you may not know he's also a director, writer, producer, critically-acclaimed Broadway star, a poker champ, a celebrated cook and a reality show contest winner.
Phillips is the 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner at the White Sands International Film Festival. He'll be honored at a special party and ceremony with VIP festival pass holders on Friday, Sept. 6 at St. Clair Winery & Bistro in Mesilla.
"It's odd to be getting a lifetime achievement award because I'm not near done. I think the best of my work is in front of me," Phillips said in an Aug. 23 phone interview.
That means an impressive second act is in store.
His diverse career in theater, television and feature films ranges from cartoon voice-overs to blockbuster hits, like "La Bamba," "Stand and Deliver" and "Young Guns" and the innovative 2013 thriller "Sanitarium." All four films will be screened during the festival.
Other notable film credits include "CHE," "Supernova," "Hollywood Homicide," "The Big Hit," "Brokedown Palace" and "El Cortez."
Phillips' TV credits are equally impressive. He's currently portraying Henry Standing Bear on the A&E series "Longmire," and has been a recurring character on "Southland," "Cougar Town" and the final season of the SyFy
series "Stargate: Universe" and as Agent Ian Edgerton on the hit CBS series "Numb3rs" during its six-year run. He's appeared in "Chuck," "Psych," "Law and Order: SVU," "Wolf Lake," "The Beast" and "The Triangle."
He's also a writer, director and producer. He directed "Tao of Surfing," based on the Pulitzer Prize nominated book by Michael A. Allen, which he said was largely filmed in Las Cruces and is slated for a 2014 release. He made his directorial debut with the HBO psychological thriller "Dangerous Touch," which he also co-wrote, and directed a Hallmark Channel film, "Love Takes Wing" and episodes of "Resurrection Blvd," "The Outer Limits" and "The Twilight Zone."
Born on the Subic Bay Naval Station in the Philippines, Phillips grew up in Corpus Christi, Texas, and earned a bachelor's degree in drama from the University of Texas at Arlington. He worked in a comedy troupe, with the Stage West theater group and in independent productions before breaking out with two hits, the lead role as rocker Richie Valens in "La Bamba" in 1987 and as a gang member whose life is transformed by a caring teacher portrayed by Edward James Olmos in "Stand and Deliver," for which he won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actor and received a Best Supporting Actor Golden Globe nomination. He worked steadily through the 1990s, scoring another hit with "Courage Under Fire," for which he won a Blockbuster Entertainment Award and the Lone Star Film & Television Award for Best Supporting Actor.
He also has five Golden Globe nominations. And a pair of kingdoms: he returned to his theatrical roots to garner a Tony Award nomination for his portrayal of the King in the 1996 Broadway production of "The King and I." He recently starred as King Arthur in a national tour of Camelot.
And that's just the tip of the IMDB resume.
"I'll sleep when I'm dead," he quipped. "I feel very fortunate that I can do all those things."
He stresses that versatility and experience are crucial to a long and successful career in show business.
"I like doing things like Shakespeare and contemporary plays to really develop a range and be able to do a lot of things. A lot of television is closer and closer to movies," he said, with similar quality and schedules, "and between 'action' and 'cut' it's exactly the same. I love theater and getting back to that. I also like doing voice-overs, and I've done a ton of [audio] books. I love to read books and it's just fun to do all the characters. I just did the last two Tom Clancy books and I'd love to do more.
Phillips, 51, lives in Los Angeles with his wife Yvonne. He has four daughters: Indigo, Grace, Isabella and Lili. All already have acting credits, he reports.
Open to V.I.P. pass holders will be a WSIFF Lifetime Achievement Award party for Phillips, from 9 to 11 p.m. Friday at the St. Clair Winery and Bistro in Mesilla. The event is sponsored by St. Clair and the Las Cruces Sun-News.
Screenings of Phillips' films will include "Young Guns" at 4:30 p.m. and "La Bamba" at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, and on Saturday: "Stand and Deliver" at 1:30 p.m. and "Sanitarium" at 4 p.m., all at Cineport 10 in the Mesilla Valley Mall.
A WSIFF regular film pass is $83.50, student film pass is $29, VIP all-access pass is $164.05, and admission to the Lifetime Achievement Party only is $83.50. For passes and a full schedule of films, workshops and events, visit wsiff.com.
Here's what Phillips had to say about life and show biz in a recent interview with the Sun-News.
Q: Which do you prefer: acting, directing, writing or producing?
A: Really, my fave is being employed. I have four children and they eat every day. I feel very fortunate that I can do all those things.
Q: You've done a lot of work in New Mexico. Have you been to Las Cruces?
A: Yes. We did some location shooting for "The Tao of Surfing." It mostly takes place in Las Cruces and Santa Cruz. It's based on the book by Michael Allen, who has personal ties to Las Cruces.
Q: Red or green?
A: Christmas. But both on the side. Since I spend six months out of the year shooting "Longmire" in Santa Fe, I'm actually looking for restaurants that DON'T serve chile.
Q: You've made an impressive showing on cooking shows, winning $50,000 for your charity on the Food Network Reality series "Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off." What's your specialty these days?
A: I'm not a chef, but I'm very good at some things. But my foodie credibility is growing a little. I've judged on "Iron Chef America" and I'm co-owner of Tribeca Grill in New York with Bobby DeNiro.
Q: Who are your favorite co-stars?
A: Edward James Olmos is such a huge touchstone. Not just as an actor but as human being. My "Young Guns" buddies. The "Longmire" cast: I'm absolutely over the moon about hanging out with them. And I'm just honored to have been on screen with Denzel Washington, Meg Ryan, Matt Damon -- working with them is a master class.
Q. Your favorite roles?
A. I couldn't say. They're so very differnet. You can't compare "La Bamba" with "Stand and Deliver" and "Young Guns," "Courage Under File" or "Filly Brown," which I absolutely love, I love roles of such depth and complexity. The upshot is that I'm very fortunate I'm not famous for one thing and one thing only. It's odd to be getting a lifetime achievement award because I'm not near done. I think the best of my work is in front of me.
Q. In 1993, you won the Oxfam America Award for your work to help end world hunger. What causes are you involved with now?
A. I truly think part of our responsibility, because we have been so blessed, is to give back. Thomas One Wolf said those with a thunder voice must go far beyond and touch and love beyond ourselves. I'm getting more involved with things like Wounded Warrior, Operation Second Chance, VFW, USO, and ACT (Autism Care and Treatment) and the Buckaroo Ball in Santa Fe that give money to children's charities in Northern New Mexico.
Q. Would you want your four kids to become actors?
A. They pretty much already are. All four were in "Love Takes Wing." Isabella and Grace are about to turn 16. They're fraternal twins, so they don't look alike. Lili is 14 and Indigo is 6. It's fun, a moment of great pride and yet greater fear, when I realized they could do it. Isabella is in a community theater production of "Les Mis."
Q. What's your dream job?
A. I've always been fortunate because things just come out of blue. I was shocked when they thought of me for "The King & I," a wonderful experience in my life. There are a few things on stage -- I'd like to play Hamlet or Mercutio or the Man of La Mancha. When it comes to film roles, things just seem to materialize. I'd like to do films based on a series of books, but I don't want to say which books yet.
Q. What advice would you give actors starting out now?
A. First of all, study. Don't give up. Fame is not that easy. People have an "American Idol" mentality now and think you can suddenly become very famous and very rich because reality television takes people and makes them famous. Study and have some respect for the crafts. Take acting lessons. Get experience however you can. Join theater groups. Become an extra.
S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at 575-541-5450
(c)2013 the Las Cruces Sun-News (Las Cruces, N.M.)
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