ATLANTA - “We’re back! I had to grow this back, I was beardless over the summer,” says actor Lou Diamond Phillips, stroking his newly-bearded chin.
He’s talking about “Prodigal Son,” of course, the FOX series on which he stars as NYPD lieutenant Gil Arroyo. The show’s second season is coming soon, but fans can get their fix of the Emmy Award-nominated actor right now thanks to the release of his first book, The Tinderbox: Soldier of Indira.
“It’s about a soldier coming back from war,” the actor-turned author explains. “He meets a witch and has to get this tinderbox out of the bottom of a tree, which controls three dogs. Pretty weird stuff!”
No surprise, the project actually started as a series of fantastical drawings, done by the actor’s wife, Yvonne Phillips.
“Yvonne had done these beautiful manga-style drawings back in the 90s, that she was going to turn into a graphic novel,” he says. “It was just evocative of a post-apocalyptic, fantasy world — a little Star Wars, a little classic European fairy tale — and that got my mind going, and I thought, ‘Let’s make a movie!’ I wrote the screenplay and realized it was far too expensive, nobody was going to give me that kind of money to direct a film, so we decided to go ahead and write the book first.”
Asked whether the universe created by the couple will continue with further books, the actor immediately laughs. “Funny you should say that! The plan originally was going to be a one-off, but the early reviews not only mention that they like the book, they love the universe of it all. They love the world that it had created. So, they said, ‘We’d love to go back there.’ And we thought, ‘Okay, we’ll give them a chance!’”
But before there can be any more books, Lou Diamond Phillips has to focus on his day job — shooting “Prodigal Son” under conditions that, due to the ongoing pandemic, might seem stranger than fiction.
“I mean, our camera crew looks like they’re about to do brain surgery,” Phillips laughs, referring to the masks and face shields being worn on-set. “There are fans out there that want to see the show, so it’s incumbent upon us to be responsible and to approach this in a proper way.”