What Is Lou Diamond Phillips Doing Today?

For a hot minute, Lou Diamond Phillips was one of the favorite stars of the '80s. However, as quickly as he appeared, he vanished from the big screen, leaving fans scratching their heads, wondering where he'd gone.

The Hollywood heartthrob wowed the crowds playing Ritchie Valens in the 1987 hit bio-flick, "La Bamba." He garnered critical acclaim for his portrayal of the musician who died in a tragic plane crash at 17, along with two other '50s legends, Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper. "Lou Diamond Phillips ... has the broad, noble face of a Mayan deity. It's a face with great inherent beauty and dignity, a great face for the camera, a great face for myth-making," Hal Hinson gushed in The Washington Post. "Valens' life becomes a rock 'n' roll fairytale of saintly ambition — and the 'saint' here is debuting actor Lou Diamond Phillips, all goodwill and sunny smiles," fellow The Washington Post writer Desson Howe opined.

Following his breakout role, Phillips continued the winning streak, starring in 1988's "Stand and Deliver," which scored him a Golden Globe nomination. He went on to play the lead role in "Young Guns," which was released later the same year. However, not long after, Phillips suddenly dropped off the radar, becoming one of those actors who seemingly disappeared from Hollywood in a puff of smoke. So, what is Phillips doing today?

Fighting the good fight

It turns out that Lou Diamond Phillips altered his career path and stepped away from mainstream Hollywood fare. However, it wasn't entirely by choice. In a 2021 interview with Salon, Phillips, part Filipino and Scot-Irish, discussed the role that racism played in his decision. "Hollywood has not always known what to do with me because I don't fit in their box," he said. "Now, there is more authenticity, and that is fantastic. When I started there weren't that many brown or Asian actors with a name that could be put into leading roles. Now there are so many more, and I'm incredibly happy about that." Phillips shared that although there's more diversity now, ethnic categories have narrowed and become more rigid. "They are putting labels on things and making the boxes smaller," he said. "My entire career has been fighting against those labels."

Phillips didn't give up on the entertainment world, though, and he definitely didn't throw in the towel regarding hard work. "I tend to like the genre of employment most of all," Phillips told Fox News. "I've done theater. I've done film and television, obviously. I was in a glorified garage band back in the early '90s. I've done stand-up, I've done sketch comedy. I try to hit a lot of different branches of the same creative treat."

New York family man and restaurateur

In April 2023, Lou Diamond Phillips appeared as Mantis on "The Masked Singer." Judges had guessed that Mantis was several different stars, including Steve Buscemi, Brendan Fraser, and Dennis Quaid. They were shocked when he was unveiled as Phillips. Robin Thicke had been a massive fan of Mantis, even saving him from elimination once, and he gushed over Phillips following his reveal, admitting he was also a massive fan of the actor.

However, Phillips hasn't restricted himself to performing. He's also entrenched in the restaurant biz. "[In 1990, Bobby De Niro] asked me to be partners at Tribeca Grill here in New York. I was like, 'Hey, I'm in.' And now, all of a sudden, I'm a restaurateur," he told Cowboys and Indians. "When I told my business manager I wanted to invest in this thing with De Niro, he goes, 'Lou, restaurant — bad idea.' Well, you don't understand: When I die, I can put, 'I was Bobby De Niro's partner' on my tombstone, so I don't care if I lose the money."

Despite Phillips and his family putting down roots in the Big Apple, he said he's not averse to returning to Los Angeles one day. He shared that he's pretty content with his current life in NYC as a sometime actor, director, and writer, though. Phillips' first book, a YA sci-fi titled, "The Tinderbox: Soldier of Indira," was published in 2020, and he's already busy working on its follow-up.