Lou Diamond Phillips celebrated La Bamba by reflecting on how Ritchie Valens’ biopic changed his life forever. Valens, the rock and roll singer known for hits like ‘La Bamba’ and ‘Donna’, died in 1959 at the age of 17 in a plane crash, just months after he broke out as a famous rock star. His heartbreaking story is told in La Bamba which was released in 1987.
On the movie’s 34th anniversary, Lou Diamond Phillips went to twitter to remember La Bamba. He first retweeted an image of the poster featuring Phillips in character as Ritchie with a guitar. The caption of the original tweet noted that: La Bamba premiered on July 24, 1987.
“And someone’s life is forever changed. Thank you, Ritchie,” Phillips added, also using the hashtag #Grateful.
Esai Morales also starred in La Bamba as Ritchie’s brother Bob. Speak about La Bamba on his birthday, another fan tweeted on Twitter that Morales “stole that movie” with his own touching performance with his role. Phillips also responded to that tweet, agreeing that Morales especially shined in La Bamba while adding that the story was originally from Bob’s point of view.
“I agree,” Phillips tweeted. “But what may not be clear is that the movie had to be told from Bob’s point of view, like Amadeus. He was the lead actor. That’s why Bob brings us into the story and Esai got the top bill. The editing made that less transparent. “
When another fan asked if Phillips was still in touch with Morales, Lou replied, “Certainly.”
Although Phillips had sporadic acting roles in the mid-1980s, his breakthrough role as Ritchie Valens in La Bamba. The film, written and directed by Luis Valdez, stars Phillips, Morales, Rosanna DeSoto, Elizabeth Peña, Danielle von Zerneck and Joe Pantoliano. In addition to covering Ritchie’s rise to fame and shocking death, the hit film also delves into the effect it all had on his brother Bob Morales, along with the rest of his family and girlfriend Donna Ludwig.
In May, Phillips also celebrated Valens on what would have been his 80th birthday. In a Rolling Stone article honoring Valens, the actor said: “Ritchie was a rock and roll pioneer, and that’s without qualification. His music touched a whole generation. [his story] speaking to a community, it truly represents the American dream for Latinos.”
It all started with La Bamba, and Phillips has continued to perform regularly in the years since. Phillips went on to star in the Young Guns movies, for which a sequel is in early development, with some of his other film credits including Courage under fire, Che, and the night stalker. He also had leading roles in the TV series longmire and Lost son and has recently appeared in other hit shows such as Blue blood, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and NCIS: New Orleans.
Phillips made a perfect Ritchie Valens and it’s hard to imagine anyone else in that role, although it’s equally true that Esai Morales was also great in La Bamba. Even 34 years later, the film remains one of the greatest biopics of all time, thanks in part to its perfect casting. This story comes from Lou Diamond Phillips.