From left, Élodie Yung and Lou Diamond Phillips behind the scenes in the “The Brit” episode of “The Cleaning Lady.” Phillips was the director. (Jeff Neumann/FOX)

actor Lou Diamond Phillips helms “The Cleaning Lady”


Over the course of 40 years, Lou Diamond Phillips has amassed a list of credits that runs nearly 300 deep.

He’s always searching for projects that challenge him.

Oftentimes, he’s returning to New Mexico.

A few months ago, Phillips was at the helm of “The Cleaning Lady” episode titled “The Brit,” which aired on Oct. 17.

While viewers know Phillips for his roles in iconic films such as “La Bamba,” “Stand and Deliver” and “Young Guns,” being in the director’s chair is familiar territory.

“It’s funny because as an actor, I get to dance a lot,” he says of the numerous productions he’s been on. “With ‘The Cleaning Lady,’ it’s one of the emblematic shows that is moving not only narrative forward, but representation.”

The second season of “The Cleaning Lady” airs at 8 p.m. Mondays on Fox. It is filmed in New Mexico.

The new season picks up with Thony, played by Élodie Yung, as she is desperately trying to find her son, Luca, portrayed by twins Sebastien and Valentino LaSalle, after he was kidnapped by his father, Marco. Actor Ivan Shaw fills that role. With nowhere else to turn, she enlists the help of FBI Agent Garrett Miller, played by Oliver Hudson, to track him down before they leave the country.

The new season also introduces Robert Kamdar, acted by Naveen Andrews, as Nadia’s gregarious and charming ex-lover, who is intent on driving a wedge between Arman Morales, played by Adan Canto, and Nadia, played by Eva De Dominici.

As Phillips buoys back and forth between actor and director, he often leans on lessons he’s learned from both sides.

“The scheduling for a director is good because I’m in and out in less than a month,” he says. “As a director, I’m there to serve the story and the characters. Every cast I work with knows that. I want them to look good and come off really well during the confines of the story. Being an actor, that is always in my back pocket.”

Phillips always wanted to learn everything about being on set.

“It goes back to the beginning when I was in theater,” he says. “I got a degree in theater. In school, you did everything. You had to take a costume class and learned all of the disciplines, not just focusing on one.”

Phillips is also grateful that New Mexico productions keep pulling him back.

“Not only is it nice to get back to a place I knew well,” he says of the state. “I know I’m going to have friends there. I will run into people I’ve worked with.

“On ‘The Cleaning Lady,’ the majority of the wardrobe crew were from ‘Longmire.’ The stunt coordinator on the show was my stunt double for years. It’s amazing to see the industry thriving there.”

Last season, Phillips appeared on the series as Joe Fabroa.

He’s been drawn to the show because of its purpose.

“The show is about humanity,” he says. “It’s about understanding the plight that Thony and Fiona (played by Martha Millan) are going through. How we can have empathy for someone else’s situation by humanizing them? No matter where you come from, there’s so much common ground. We all want a good life for ourselves and our children while having respect and dignity.”

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