Published on June 27, 2012 by Amy
Lou Diamond Phillips (born Lou Diamond Upchurch; February 17, 1962) is an American film, television, and stage actor and director. His breakthrough came when he starred in the film La Bamba. He earned a supporting actor Golden Globe Award nomination for his role in Stand and Deliver and a Tony Award nomination for his role in The King and I. Other notable films in which Phillips has starred include Courage Under Fire, Che, and Love Takes Wing.
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Outside of acting, he has notably finished 186th in the 2009 World Series of Poker World Championships “No Limit Texas hold ‘em” main event.
Phillips was born as Lou Diamond Upchurch at the Subic Bay U.S. Naval Station in Zambales, Philippines, the son of Lucita Aranas and Gerald Upchurch, an officer in the United States Navy. His father was an American of Scots-Irish and one-quarter Cherokee descent, and his mother, a native of Candelaria, is a Filipino of Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, and Hawaiian descent.
Phillips was named after Marine legend Leland “Lou” Diamond. After his father died, he took his stepfather’s surname “Phillips” as his own.
He was raised in Texas, where he attended Flour Bluff High School in Corpus Christi graduating in 1980. He graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington with a BFA in Drama.
The first low-budget film in which he starred was called Trespasses. Phillips’ big break came with the starring role in 1987′s La Bamba, in which he played early rocker Ritchie Valens. Prior to his cinematic breakthrough, he starred in the Miami Vice episode “Red Tape” (13 Mar 1987), portraying detective Bobby Diaz.
In 1988, Phillips co-starred with Edward James Olmos in the inner-city high school drama Stand and Deliver, in a role for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture”. He plays Angel Guzman, a cholo gangster who is inspired by his math teacher, Jaime Escalante, to excel at calculus. Working to master the subject, he develops a friendship with his teacher. Stand and Deliver was filmed before La Bamba, but it was released a year later. In 1988 and 1990, Phillips co-starred with Emilio Estevez and Kiefer Sutherland in the Western films Young Guns and Young Guns II, in which he plays Jose Chavez y Chavez, a historical Old West outlaw.
In the mid-1990s, Phillips was a vocalist with the Los Angeles based rock group The Pipefitters.
In 1996, Phillips made his Broadway debut as the King in Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s The King and I. Phillips won a Theatre World Award and was nominated for both a Tony Award and a Drama Desk Award for his performance.
In 1998 he starred as Cisco, the counterpart of the main character Melvin Smiley (played by Mark Wahlberg), in the comedy-action movie The Big Hit.
He later featured a minor role in the TV sitcom “George Lopez” (2002-2004) as George Lopez’s half-brother.
On September 11, 2007, Phillips joined the touring troup for Lerner and Loewe’s Camelot in the role of King Arthur.
He also played a role in the first season of the TV series 24 as secret government agent Mark DeSalvo, opposite former Young Guns star Kiefer Sutherland. Phillips played the recurring role of FBI agent Ian Edgerton in the television series Numb3rs. Edgerton is an FBI tracker and sniper who works as an instructor at Quantico FBI Academy when he is not working a case in the field. Phillips won the second season of the NBC reality series, I’m a Celebrity…Get Me out of Here!, over pro-wrestler Torrie Wilson. Lou currently hosts the weekly series An Officer and a Movie on The Military Channel. This series features a World War II drama such as Kelly’s Heroes, with Clint Eastwood, Donald Sutherland and Telly Savalas.
Phillips had a recurring role as Colonel Telford in the Stargate Universe television series during its two-season run on the SyFy channel 2009-2011. He played the would-be commander of the Destiny expedition, who is left behind when an accident launches an unsuspecting crew into deep space. The commander works from Earth to bring the crew home, often coming into conflict with the shipborne command characters.
Phillips has been a regular poker player since college. In May 2009, Phillips placed 31st of 403 entrants in the 2009 California State Poker Championship Limit Texas hold ‘em. He placed in the money at the $10,000 July 2009 World Series of Poker World Championship No Limit main event. On July 12, he was eliminated as the original field of 6,494 was trimmed from 407 to 185. He entered the day in 114th place among the 407 and was eliminated on the final hand of the day finishing in 186th place and earning $36,626.
In January 2012, he was one of eight celebrities participating in the Food Network reality series Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off. On January 29th, 2012 he was announced as the winner with a score of 28 out of 30. Winning $50,000 for his charity.
In June 2012, Philips began costarring in “Longmire”, about a modern day sheriff played by Robert Taylor. Lou is playing Henry Standing Bear, a Native American, who is Longmire’s good friend — often helping him with cases and in dealing with the reservation police who don’t respect or like outsiders, especially other law enforcement.
Relationships and family
During the making of Trespasses, he met Julie Cypher, an assistant director. They married on September 17, 1987. They divorced on August 5, 1990; Cypher left him to start a relationship with rock musician Melissa Etheridge.
He met Jennifer Tilly, to whom he was briefly engaged, although the two never married. He later married Penthouse model and television extra Kelly Preston ; they have two daughters: Grace Moorea and Isabella Patricia (twins born on October 5, 1997). They reside with their mother. Phillips and Preston separated in 2004 and their lengthy divorce was finalized in July 2007.
He began dating artist Yvonne Boismier in 2004, after his separation. They married in August 2007. Their daughter, Indigo Sanara Phillips, was born in October 2007.
On August 11, 2006, he was arrested for domestic violence at his Los Angeles home following a dispute with his live-in girlfriend and future wife, makeup artist Yvonne Boismier. In December 2006, he pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor count of domestic battery and was sentenced to three years’ probation. He also was ordered to undergo one year of domestic violence counseling and to serve 200 hours of community service.
Phillips plays on the World Poker Tour in the Hollywood Home games. Phillips took his poker game to the next level in 2009 when he entered the World Series of Poker $10,000 Main Event and was one of the survivors out of more than 6,000 players to make it to the money, finishing 186th.
Phillips has been an outspoken advocate of HR 4574, the Filipino Veterans Equity Act of 2006, legislation to provide the same benefits to Filipino World War II veterans who served with the United States as have been available to other U.S. World War II veterans.
He is also a supporter of the Thoughtful House Center for Children, founded by Doctor Andrew Wakefield. It is controversial because of Wakefield’s claims about the connection between the MMR vaccine and autism.
Phillips is very close to the Native American community. In 1990, he was adopted by the Sioux tribe, although he is Cherokee by blood. “Star Keeper” is his Sioux name. That year, he also organized a concert, The Winds of Life, to benefit Native American causes.