Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Lou Diamond Phillips: Fit to be ‘king’

Phillips, who was born on Feb. 17, 1962 in Subic, Zambales, revealed how his Filipino roots plays a big factor in the competition.

He may have had his ups and downs as a Hollywood star, but one biggest trait for this Filipino-American actor is his determination to succeed against all odds.

Lou Diamond Phillips, who has made his mark in the Hollywood TV and film industries and the Broadway stage, joins other celebrity competitors in the American adaptation of the international hit reality show franchise, “I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!”

For Phillips, the show serves yet another challenge in his career. He and the other celebrity contestants, including fellow actor Stephen Baldwin, model Janice Dickinson, comic duo Frangela, reality show stars Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt, former professional wrestler Torrie Wilson, ex-NBA cager John Salley, former Illinois first lady Patricia Blagojevich, and American Idol Season 6 finalist Sanjaya Malakar, are left in the jungles of Costa Rica to fend for themselves and survive in a difficult environment.

Phillips spoke to the Inquirer in a phone interview from Costa Rica arranged by Star World before the competition began.

“This is completely different because you have no idea what you are doing and you are playing yourself. I think what I have to wrap my mind around with is the fact that cameras will be on 24 hours a day. We also have to deal with the environment,” Phillips said.

Contestants need to complete stomach-turning, physically demanding challenges to earn food and supplies, and eventually end up as the “King” or “Queen of the Jungle” — the top prize that offers cash rewards for the contestants’ chosen charities.

Out to win

Phillips assessed who among his fellow competitors he thinks would endure the longest: “I know that Janice has done the UK version of the show and she did very well. So that automatically puts her as a major competitor.

“Stephen Baldwin has done a lot of these reality shows including “Fear Factor.” He knows what to expect. On a physical level though, I think John Salley the basketball player has the advantage. But I think a lot of the other challenges are the mental ones. It’s hard to say who is going to do well. Maybe it’s Heidi and Spencer. You would never know.”

But Phillips pointed out that he’s really out to win because “I’ve played the King of Siam as well as the King of England. I think it’s only fitting for me to be the ‘King of the Jungle,’” he declares.

Phillips explained how he would face any of the show’s difficult challenges.

“I will take on anything. Hopefully there won’t be any challenge that I’ll shy away from. It seems like the nature of the competition is not to beat the other contestants, but to outlast them. And to do that, you have to do well in the challenges that appeal to the Americans who are going to vote. It’s a popularity contest. But it’s also showing the audience how willing you are to face these challenges,” he noted.

Nothing scares him

He also mentioned that nothing scares him basically, even the prospect of menacing food challenges.

“I don’t have too many fears,” he said. “I have done so many stunts in action movies in my career. I’m not scared of heights. If I have to jump off a helicopter, I will. Some of the food challenges might be a little off. The last time I was eating food on TV, I was judging ‘Iron Chef.’ But this is more like ‘Iron Stomach.’”

Mental preparation

It takes a lot of mental and physical preparation, he said, to prevail in such a format.

“It’s more of a mental preparation than anything” he added. “In some ways it’s like going into a game. It’s about being mentally prepared for what might come up.”

Physically, Phillips made sure he’s in shape throughout the show’s run.

Hitting the gym

“I hit the gym a lot,” he said. “I usually stay in pretty good shape but I tried to do it more because I know that the show is going to be physically demanding. I also have been eating a little less … that’s what I would do when I’m preparing for a role. Working out and getting physical help me to get my mind in the good place.”

Phillips mentioned that sudden changes in Costa Rica’s weather — from the scorching heat to the heaviest rains in an instant — makes him concerned but more motivated mentally.

Biggest sacrifice

But the biggest sacrifice, he said, is not communicating with his family throughout the competition. “Even when I’m working, I’m able to talk to my children everyday. As a father, you will be worried,” Phillips noted.

He said he brought a picture of his wife and children to the Costa Rican jungle as a luxury item.

Pinoy roots

Phillips, who was born on Feb. 17, 1962 in Subic, Zambales, revealed how his Filipino roots plays a big factor in the competition.

Mom’s advice

“My mother and sisters were from the Philippines. Many of my family are in California. They’ll be watching and rooting for me. It’s funny because she has been giving me advice and telling me Costa Rica is just like the Philippines. I’ll get used to it … My message to my relatives from the Philippines is thanks for preparing me for this. I think I can accomplish this,” Phillips said.

“I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!” premieres tomorrow on Star World. By Gerry Plaza - Philippine Daily Inquirer

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