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Sundance Film Festival
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The staff of The Salt Lake Tribune covers the Sundance Film Festival, on the streets of Utah and beyond.

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Australian actor Robert Taylor, right, and Actor Lou Diamond Phillips, left, participate in the A&E Network portion of the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour in Pasadena , Calif. on Friday, Jan. 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)
Lou Diamond Phillips is at Sundance for the first time

Lou Diamond Phillips have never been to Sundance before. He didn't have a reason to come.

And, unlike some celebrities, he didn't want to show up just to be seen.

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"I'm not one of those people who goes to the Academy Awards or goes to the Golden Globes or goes to any of these things without a reason," Phillips said. "Because I don't want to feel like a hanger-on.

"So now that I've got a film at Sundance, I'll go."

The film is "Filly Brown." Phillips plays Jose, the father of Maja Tonorio (Gina Rodriguez), a tough young woman and aspiring rap star

"Yes, it's a music movie, but it really is, at its core, a family drama," Phillips said. "I'm an ex-gang banger, I'm trying to keep the family together. She is a street poet with dreams of becoming a musician."

"It's a bit like '8 Mile' meets 'Stand and Deliver,' if you will."

As was the case with his break-out role in the 1987 film "La Bamba," Phillips is playing a Latino. Although he isn't. Latino, that is.

The 49-year-old actor benefits from the fact that casting directors can't figure out what his ethnic background is, and thus cast him as everything from Hispanics to Native Americans.

"If I waited around to play a Filipino-Irish-Cherokee, I'd never work," he said with a laugh. "Fortunately, my look is so unidentifiable, I fit a lot of them."

— Scott D. Pierce



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