Actor Richard Phillis grew up on the east side of Cleveland in the Collinwood neighborhood. Two films were made about that neighborhood including, ” Welcome to Collinwood ” and ” To Kill an Irishman. ” His father was friends with Danny Greene the Irish Gangster. He played sports growing up and his parents taught him the value of working hard; a good reminder was chores every day. His father worked as a Pressman, and later as the Canteen Manager of the Collinwood VFW Post and his mother worked as a Telephone Operator at the Holiday Inn / Sheraton Inn. He recalls his tough working-class neighborhood and how he needed to defend himself early. His parents couldn’t afford to help him pay for college, so he joined the Air Force and went to college while in the service and when he got out.
Phillis didn’t realize that he wanted to be an actor until age 48. He played 26-years of amateur hockey and retired from playing at age 48. “I believe that the key to a good life is to find something you love to do and do it. I fell into acting when I auditioned for a film for the first time and I got the same feeling of adrenaline I got from playing hockey. So, I found out by accident that I loved to act.”
Phillis recalls being related to Gentleman Jim Corbett the first Hollywood film star. He was also the heavyweight boxing champion of the world. Phillis’s family were big-time boxing fans and his father and uncle both fought in the ring. His grandfather knocked guys out that disrespected his family. Although he never fought in a ring his grandfather was one of the toughest men he ever knew. Phillis’s father taught him how to fight, so he could survive the mean streets of Collinwood
His first break he was cast as a father of an Italian family. They filmed it as a pilot to develop a TV show. It was sent to Hollywood, but it wasn’t picked up.
When it comes to acting, Phillis does his homework when preparing for a role. ”I try to think about who the character is and think about how I would be if I was that person. I continue to dig deeper into myself and think about what I can bring to the role. I look for roles that I can connect to. I do roles within my wheelhouse, but I like to try to go beyond the comfort zone too. I love the challenge.”
. His most recent films have been short horror films and a short film about boxing where Phillis played a Fight Promoter. He worked background in “White Boy Rick” that recently came out. He read for a speaking role in the film and got two callbacks and read. The film was directed by Yann Demange. “The role I was reading for I would have been in that scene with Matthew McConaughey. I have had a lot of films I’ve been working on all coming out this year.”
“Hey Mr. Postman” came out this year starring Walter Franks, Omar Gooding, Paula Jai Parker, Liana Mendoza, directed by Mike Berry produced by Tina Hobbs. Phillips played a Postal Inspector and shared a scene with Walter Franks and Paula Jai Parker. Another film coming out this year, “The Run ” he plays the Mayor, starring Frankie Valenti, . Marlee Martin, Barbara Rosenblat, and Alan Cumming directed by Craig Otto. He also stars in a musical coming out this year called ” Hal King where he plays two characters General Crooks / Cop and directed by Myron Davis.
This year really has been Phillip’s year, he was nominated for “Best Actor in Ohio Short film” at the Indie gathering in Hudson. He was nominated for a short film called ” Blind to It ” a PSA. Last year, he was nominated and won for “Best Supporting Actor” in Cleveland’s 48-hour film competition for a film called ” Click Bait” a Maple Films production directed by Dustin Lee. The film was judged to be the “Best Film” and went on to compete in Paris France for a chance to go to the Cannes Film Festival. The film was well received in France although they didn’t make it to Cannes. They did however, win “Best Film” twice.
What is the most surprising thing you have learned as an Actor? “I think the most surprising lesson that I learned about acting is the discovery of who you are as a person. What do you as an Actor have that you can bring to a role. The whole learning process is always new depending on the role. It helps you have empathy towards people and have a better understanding.”
Recently Phillips got cast in an Arthur Miller play, “A View From The Bridge” directed by Fred Perry. He was cast for two different characters. It will be performed at the Ohio Theater located in Play House Square. Phillips next project will be a feature film, ” Turn Out The Lights ” where he will will play Officer Myers.