WASHINGTON - Film star Lou Diamond Phillips got his big break with his portrayal of music legend Ritchie Valens in the 1987 hit 'La Bamba.'
Since then, the actor has had success with starring roles on television, on stage, and on the big-screen.
His latest role comes in the new film, 'The 33,' which tells the real-life story of the Chilean miners who were trapped in a collapsed mine for sixty-nine days before being rescued.
Phillips, and 'The 33' director, Patricia Riggins, visited FOX 5 to talk about the movie.
The shooting of the film took place inside actual mines, said Riggins, who said they shot for 35 days, 6 days a week, for 14 hours each day.
"It wasn’t glamorous," said Phillips. "I mean, it obviously does something to your psyche and I really do think shooting in real mines brought veracity to our performances and allowed the cast to bond together and to understand this experience a little bit more."
Riggins told us that the film's lighting came from the head lamps worn by the actors themselves. Each actor was coached and their movements choreographed so that they could light each other during each scene. "That’s a lot of pressure – you know you’ve got to make Antonio Banderas look good!" Phillips joked. "Oh, oh, oh, let me catch those cheekbones, that’s fantastic!"
Phillips said that putting a face on the miners was most important since the outcome of the story is already known. Telling their stories and getting into the details of each of their lives was essential. It was so essential that the cast and crew were able to meet and work with the real miners on set and 32 of the 33 were in attendance for the world premiere in Chile.
"There's immense amount of pressure to tell the true story and do it with respect and attention to detail," Phillips said about his real-to-life roles in 'The 33' and in 'La Bamba.' He said his role as Luis "Don Lucho" Urzúa, the shift foreman in the mine, was his hardest shoot since he played Valens.
It was a grind but one of the best parts of filming, Riggins said, was when Phillips and cast member Antonio Banderas would pass the time by breaking out into song - while down in the mines. They joked that a musical version of the show could soon hit the stage!
The film is set to open on November 13. Get more information and watch the trailer here: http://www.the33movie.com/