Inside Scoop: Lou Diamond Phillips Talks BLINDSPOT, LONGMIRE & More

By: Agatha Kasprzak

On last night’s episode of NBC’s Blindspot, “Sent on Tour,” Lou Diamond Phillips guest starred as Saul Guerrero. OHSOGRAY participated on a press call with Phillips, who gave some scoop on Guerrero and his other upcoming projects, including the return of Longmire.

Blindspot airs Mondays at 10/9c on NBC.

How did you get involved with Blindspot?

I was very, very intrigued by Blindspot just from watching the ad. I was going to watch the show as a fan, and then the call came to go on the show. They didn’t have a script yet, but they gave me a character description. I thought, you know, that sounds, you know, like a lot of fun. I’d worked with Martin Gero, so I had a great sense of, you know, how intelligent the script would be, how much fun it would be. I kind of jumped into the Blindspot, so to speak. Ultimately what was a lot of fun was that I was [working] with Sullivan Stapleton and Audrey, Ashley, all from the show.

Guerrero has an important part coming up, and obviously Mayfair has been kind of hiding it from everybody what’s going on. Can you talk about his role?

Saul — emphasis on the ul — is definitely a part of the puzzle, but I don’t even know if he knows what part he plays in this. Every question just leads to more questions, and I’m just…one big worm in a can of worms. So it’s intriguing, and then obviously I think any show, any success, has a long-term plan. And very interesting to see how it’s going to play out.

Congratulations on Season 5 of Longmire.

Yeah, that just came down on Friday, so I’m absolutely thrilled. I think this last season was our best yet and, you know, our writers just keep raising the bar.

Blindspot - Season 1

How many episodes will you be on Blindspot, do you know?

I don’t even know if I can reveal that. All I can say is it’s more than one. Yeah, no, believe me, it’s a show about black ops and high intelligence. And, yeah, they – yeah, I’ve got a gun to my head right now. I don’t know if – you can’t see that, but yeah, they’re watching every word I say.

There was criticism that Longmire’s demographic is older. I imagine you’ve met Longmire fans of all different ages. Do you want to comment on that?

You know what? I will simply say that it is inaccurate to assume that we appeal to only one demographic; and that our fans are incredibly loyal. They’re incredibly vocal. And this is the reason that we were not only picked up by Netflix, but that we have a Season 5. So any statement to the contrary is not only irresponsible, it’s inaccurate. Obviously we could go into that a lot, and I actually do think that there’s going to be some sort of discussion toward that comment this weekend. But I need to leave that to our producers and to Netflix to handle.

It’s very exciting to see the Number 2 feared criminal on the FBI’s Most Wanted List.

And I have to say yes, he might be the most feared, but he’s got a great sense of humor. And that’s one of the things that I really loved about the role. It was an absolute blast to play it. That’s one of the nice things about bad guys, you have a license that you would not necessarily have as a hero. So it’s always fun to come in and, you know, let the bad buy play a little bit.

You say, well the people in this community have strict instructions not to let anyone take me away. And that just – they don’t know what to do. So it was very unexpected, and really was a great hook to tune in.

Well no, thank you, and it’s not – I’ve been very, very fortunate recently in that a lot of the roles I’m getting to play have a lot of meat on the bone and are challenging to me because I’m doing different things. The role in 33; Henry Standing Bear on Longmire; and now this guest spot on Blindspot…they allow me to tackle the roles in different ways and to use different facets of my own personality, if you will. That is what you hope and you pray for, because the same thing over and over again would just get boring.

The renewal of Longmire is great news after the season 4 cliffhanger.

Thrilled, thrilled, thrilled about it. I think, as I said before, the fourth season was our best yet. It certainly gave Henry Standing Bear so much more to do, and has, you know, set the table, if you will, for, you know, some very, very interesting plot lines for the next season. So we’re all absolutely incredibly grateful that we get an opportunity to continue that.

I’m very excited to see Season 5. It’s exciting.

You and me both, because I don’t know exactly what they’re going to do to me yet.

Blindspot - Season 1

You mostly played good guys throughout your career. So do you find you’re more excited to play the bad guy role?

I love playing bad guys because the gloves come off and there are no rules. You can be as mean or as – I don’t know, irreverent, as you want. And certainly the bad guy in Blindspot is part and parcel of that. I mean I think he’s hilarious. They gave me some very funny lines, and he’s incredibly talky. But yes indeed, he’s a bad guy. It’s definitely different than Henry Standing Bear, or the very, very emotional and earnest role that I have in The 33.

Do you let your children watch your bad guy roles?

It depends on the bad guy role. I mean this is one that I would certainly not have a problem with them watching. But I mean for instance, I played a serial killer/child molester in Law and Order SVU. And that was one that was like no, you’re not going to be seeing that. I also – even though I have older daughters, I’ve warned them. I did an independent film recently where I played Richard Ramirez, the Night Stalker. And we’ll see that next year. So, you know, it’s not just a reminder to my fans, it’s a reminder to my family — don’t forget, I’m just acting.

You’ve been in a lot of different projects, but is there like a type of role or maybe some character that like you would really love to get to play?

The one thing that I don’t get to do enough of is comedy. And I absolutely love that. I cut my teeth on it when I was doing theater back in Texas. Actually, my first paying role ever was part of a sketch comedy troupe called The Zero Hour, where we used to do comedy in punk clubs. And if you weren’t funny, they threw bottles at you, you know? Fortunately I’ve had great success in drama. I’ve had great success with intense roles. But I like to get away from the brooding ethnic every once in a while and bring the funny.

You mentioned you were a fan of Blindspot. Can you talk about your experience as a viewer?

I was very fortunate in that the week while I was filming, I actually got to have Sullivan Stapleton and Audrey and Ashley with me in my hotel room, and we watched the premiere together. So that was pretty exciting. I’ve seen a few of the episodes. But fortunately and unfortunately for me, I’ve been incredibly busy these last few weeks on this press tour, and getting things together for The 33. I also just got back from Australia and New Zealand, making a couple of appearances. So I’m not quite up to date, but I certainly have seen enough of the shows to know that it’s incredibly quality writing, and the directing. It’s just a big show, you know? It’s a little action film every single week. And so I think they’re doing a great job.

How was it filming the action scenes?

I took a few bruises and a few bumps on this one. But like I’ve always said about fight scenes, if you don’t come away a little sore, you weren’t doing it right.

Blindspot - Season 1

Can you tell us anything about future episodes? Do you get to do more fight scenes?

I can’t really comment on what’s coming up for Saul Guerrero, just that he is intrinsic to the plot and to what’s going on with not only Mayfair, but obviously Jane. But I don’t think I’m allowed to divulge any of those other secrets.

What other shows — new shows this fall or other shows — have you been intrigued by or following recently?

Because I have been so busy, I’ve pretty much been going back to a lot of my favorites. I mean like a lot of people, my jaw’s still not off my chest from The Walking Dead. Huge fan of that. Looking forward to binge-ing some other shows that I need to catch up on — big fan of The Good Wife; Ray Donovan — I mean just a stellar cast. And I actually did an independent film with Dash, who I love. Unfortunately I haven’t had a lot of down time to catch up on everything that’s out there. And Gotham I’m a huge fan of. So right now I can’t speak – other than Blindspot, I’ve been sticking with the tried and true.

Would you rather have played a different character? Or do you really like what your character is doing in this series?

I absolutely love what my character is doing in this series, because it’s different than, you know, what I’m doing on Longmire. I mean it’s 180 degrees from him. And it’s a different kind of bad guy than I’ve played recently. There’s a certain charm to him. There’s definitely a sense of humor. There’s this off-the-cuff, cavalier quality about him that I found very refreshing and a lot of fun to play, especially when everything else is so life and death for the regular characters, you know? So many times the process of filming can be an incredibly enjoyable one. And this was one of those situations.

As to The 33, I have a quick two-part question. I was wondering if you got to spend any time with any of the actual survivors. And what was it like being directed by Patricia Riggen?

First of all, yes, the miners were involved in this process from the beginning. We actually started filming in Colombia before they had a chance to fly some of them up. Mario Sepulveda, who was Antonio Banderas’ character, was there almost constantly. He had been magnanimous and bigger than life, as Antonio plays him. I had the great opportunity to spend some time with Luis Urzua, my character, and just soak up the man’s, you know, quiet dignity and his reserve. And it really helped me, I think, approach the role in the right way. I will say that Patricia Riggen was absolutely the best choice to direct this film. She obviously brought a woman’s sensibilities to it. She never forgot the heart and the soul. She never forgot the importance of the families — the wives, the sisters, the mothers, you know, that were keeping hope alive in Camp Hope. And I also think as a Mexican, she brought a real cultural sensitivity to the story, and that the authenticity of the Chilean people, you know, was not lost. So to me she was the whole package, and she and I had just an absolutely wonderful collaboration. I’m quite proud of what we put on the screen.

As many times as you’ve played Native Americans, do you have any personal affinity towards any one particular tribe, or if any tribes have made you an honorary member?

Well absolutely. And, you know, I mean honorary member’s actually an understatement. After Young Guns films, I was adopted into the Lakota nation on the Pine Ridge Porcupine and Rosebud reservations in South Dakota, and given a Lakota name. And just last year, the Cheyenne people of the Lame Deer reservation in Montana adopted me, and also gave me a Cheyenne name. In both cases I went through a naming and blessing ceremony. So, you know, much like when I represent, you know, the Latino community, you know, be it Mexican-American or Puerto Rican or, in the case of The 33, Chileans, I try to be specific. I try to be respectful and accurate, because I know I’m representing a community, you know, of people who have, you know, pride and dignity. I think the acceptance that I’ve received from any number of these communities is affirmation that, you know, I’m approaching it in the right way.

Have you finished shooting the Tao of Surfing?

No, unfortunately we have not finished that film. It’s one of those little films that has struggled, and still trying to get the finishing funds on that. So, you know, hopefully sometime in the future, because it truly is a beautiful little piece. But the state of independent film in the world right now is, you know – it’s difficult. It’s like getting blood out of a turnip.