Star of "La Bamba" visits Breck

Kimberly Nicoletti
Actor Lou Diamond Phillips had a few laughs with film critic Jeffrey Lyons, right, and his son Ben Lyons at a press conference inaugurating the Breckenridge Film Festival Thursday at Main Street Station.

BRECKENRIDGE –Lou Diamond Phillips may have been the heartthrob in the film “La Bamba,” but he’s more comfortable deflecting attention than attracting it.

“I’m not a big wheeler-dealer, deal-maker type,” Phillips said in a press conference Thursday in the lobby of Main Street Station. “When I attend a festival, I really like to support the filmmakers. … I like being part of that grassroots movement.”

The main reason Phillips came to the Breckenridge Festival of Film this year is to support his good friend Tom Hodges, who directed “Stunt C*ocks.”

The oedipal short comedy tells the story of two men who take their severe sexual dysfunction and use it to turn the adult film industry into a business filled with family, friendship and love. Phillips appears in a cameo role as himself in the eight-minute “mockumentary.”

But, Phillips can’t deflect too much attention, because the festival features a collection of film clips from his career—which includes about 40 movies.

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“Talk about a career retrospective – I look at my resume and start to feel suddenly old,” he said.

And with good reason – he has packed in an average of two films a year. The 41-year-old actor’s first film was “Angel Alley,” a Christian youth film made in Dallas when he was 19. His first Hollywood movie was the 1987 hit “La Bamba,” where he portrayed the Richie Valens.

He earned a Golden Globe nomination from his performance in “Stand and Deliver,” and became an official member of the brat pack (along with Kiefer Sutherland and Emilio Estevez) in “Young Guns.”

He even starred in “The King and I” on Broadway for nearly two years –a role that garnered him a Tony nomination for best actor.

During his 20-some year career, he’s seen the industry change – for the worst.

The digital age has brought bigger films, such as “Star Wars,” that up the ante for producers and creater larger overhead, and therefore, the need for a larger return on the investment. As a result, fewer large productions are made, which affects everyone down the chain, he said.

It affects the actors because once a principal actor, such as Tom Cruise, takes his cut (say, $25 million), there’s less money for the supporting actors. In fact, Phillips said supporting actors make less today than they did five years ago.

And, all the competition is pushing out the little guys.

“We need to see independents have the room to breathe,” he said of filmmakers.

Independents, like himself.

Phillips is working with a friend of his, who happens to be the president of the Philippines, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Arroyo asked him to make a film about the Philippines because films produced there rarely extend beyond the country’s borders.

Phillips wrote a screenplay based on a translated treatment of an award-winning Filipino novel and hopes to begin filming it in January. He’ll star in the story about a Filipino singer with American blood who never knew his father. Phillips also will direct and produce the film.

Born in Subic Bay in the Philippines, Phillips holds causes related to the country close to his heart. For the past four years, he’s been working to pass a bill for the Filipino soldiers who fought along with American troops in World War II to receive veterans’ benefits.

“There’s about 40,000 men left, and now the benefits are secondary to them,” he said. “They want recognition. They want to be told “thank you’ for the sacrifices they made. They feel overlooked and underappreciated.”

You can catch Phillips throughout the weekend at parties and forums. At noon today, the WNBC film critic and festival host, Jeffrey Lyons interviews Phillips at the Maggie Pond.

After that, Phillips has a couple of months off before he starts shooting his first romantic comedy with singer Mariah Carey in November.

To get an updated film schedule, go to, go to the festival information center in the Main Street Station or call (970) 547-3100.

Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or by e-mail at

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