Ethan Phillips

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Ethan Phillips
Biography photo of Ethan Phillips. Photo by Daniel Reichert
Born (1955-02-08) February 8, 1955 (age 59)
Garden City, New York, U.S.
Occupation Actor, playwright, author
Years active 1977–present

Ethan Phillips (born February 8, 1955) is an American actor, playwright and author. He is known for television roles such as Star Trek: Voyager's Neelix and Benson's Pete Downey.

Personal life[edit]

Raised in Garden City, New York, Phillips attended Boston University and received a bachelor's degree in English literature and a Master of Fine Arts from Cornell University.



After leaving Cornell, Phillips began his show business career performing in Broadway and off-Broadway plays– at many different theatres, including the Direct Theatre where he won the Best of the Actors' Festival in 1977, the Wonderhorse Theatre in the premier of Christopher Durang's The Nature and Purpose of the Universe, with Ellen Greene, and at Playwrights Horizons in a revival of Eccentricities of a Nightingale (Tennessee Williams helped shape the production, and ended up writing a new monologue for Phillips, which Williams personally dictated to Phillips on tech day when it was realized the leading lady, Jill Eikenberry, needed more time for a dress change).

In 1979-80, Phillips also appeared as Utrillo in the premier of Dennis McIntyre's Modigliani at the Astor Place Theatre. It ran for 208 performances and co-starred Jeff De Munn.

Phillips performed in many plays in New York over the next fifteen years, including Terrence McNally's Lips Together, Teeth Apart for Manhattan Theatre Club (at the Lucille Lortel Theatre), Measure for Measure with Kevin Kline for the New York Shakespeare Festival at the Delacorte Theater, the premier of the musical My Favorite Year at Lincoln Center, with Tim Curry and Andrea Martin, as well as revivals and new plays at theatres like the Hudson Guild Theatre, the Ensemble Studio Theatre, the American Jewish Theatre, Chelsea Theatre Center, and again at Playwrights Horizons.

Most recently he appeared in the premier of David Mamet's November at the Ethel Barrymore Theater, with Nathan Lane, Dylan Baker, and Laurie Metcalf as well as playing the title character opposite Peter Dinklage in the all-male cast of The Imaginary Invalid for Bard College's SummerScape Festival 2012. In 2013-14 he appeared as Stanley Levison in Robert Schenkkan's new play All the Way at American Repertory Theater.[1]

Phillips' regional theater credits include performing leading roles for San Diego's Old Globe Theatre, for the Alaska Repertory Theatre, at Seattle Repertory Theatre in the premier of Inspecting Carol with Dan Sullivan directing, at Baltimore's Center Stage in the premier of Miss Evers' Boys, for the Westport Country Playhouse, the Boston Shakespeare Company, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Salt Lake Acting Co., and the McCarter Theatre.

In Los Angeles, Phillips acted in Side Man at the Pasadena Playhouse, in Lips Together, Teeth Apart for the Mark Taper Forum, in You Can't Take It with You at the Geffen Playhouse (directed by Chris Hart, Moss Hart's son), in The Bourgeois Gentleman for the Pasadena Symphony, directed by John de Lancie, (which moved to the Ravinia Festival in Chicago), and as Polonius in Hamlet for the Uprising Theatre.

Ethan has been a member of Robert Redford's organization, The Sundance Playwrights Conference, in Utah, for six summers, where he developed his play Penguin Blues, which is published by Samuel French Inc. and is included in The Best Short Plays of 1989 (Applause, ed. Ramon Delgado).

While at Sundance he worked on developing new plays such as Angels in America, The Kentucky Cycle, and Miss Evers' Boys.

Based on his experience there, he helped found First Stage, a playwright development lab in Los Angeles that is now in its twenty-fourth year of operation.


Phillips has appeared in over thirty films, beginning with a small role in Ragtime (directed by Miloš Forman). These features include For Richer or Poorer, Jeffrey, The Shadow, Wagons East!, The Man Without a Face, Green Card, Lean on Me (which reunited him with his Benson co-star Robert Guillaume), Critters, Bloodhounds of Broadway, the 1989 Oscar-winning historical film Glory, The Island, Bad Santa, and The Babysitters". More recent films include Shadow Witness, Audrey, and the Coen brother's Inside Llewyn Davis.


In 1980, Phillips joined the cast of Benson (1979–1986). Phillips continued to play Pete Downey in the half-hour sitcom.

Phillips has made scores of guest appearances on many television series and television films, most recently Pushing Daisies, Bones, Eli Stone, Criminal Minds, NUMB3RS, Las Vegas, L.A. Law, JAG, Law & Order, Arrested Development, Boston Legal, Castle, Rizzoli & Isles, The Middle, The Good Guys, and The Mentalist.

In 1990, he began his prolific Star Trek career playing the Ferengi character of Dr. Farek in Star Trek: The Next Generation (episode "Ménage à Troi"). Phillips went on to play Neelix on Star Trek: Voyager from 1995 to 2001, Phillips stayed with the series through its entire seven-season run, and also performed a cameo as the holographic nightclub maître d' in the 1996 film, Star Trek: First Contact. Phillips also appeared as a Ferengi pirate captain on an episode of Star Trek: Enterprise.

Phillips also coauthored the Star Trek Cookbook. He has not only performed on three separate series in the Star Trek TV universe (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Voyager, and Star Trek: Enterprise), he has also appeared in one of the feature length films (Star Trek: First Contact), and performed in the Star Trek Internet fan film titled Of Gods and Men which starred several of the original Original series Star Trek cast. Phillips has also performed for the Star Wars fanbase, doing voice work for several of the Star Wars franchise video games: the 2000 Star Wars: Force Commander (Transport Pilot/Governor of Abridon), the 2001 Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds (Empire Medical Droid, Krantian Governor, and Royal Grenade Trooper), and the 2003 Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (credited with additional voices).

On November 9, 2010, Phillips appeared on the NBC soap opera Days of Our Lives as a witness to a hit and run pedestrian fatality. In 2010, he also guest starred in an episode of TNT's series Rizzoli and Isles as John J. Murray. In May, 2011, he played Tucker's attorney on the long-running CBS daytime show The Young and The Restless.


Year Film Role Notes
1980 Benson Peter 'Pete' 'The Pete Boy' 'Petey' Seasons 2-6
1981 Ragtime Guard at Family House
1986 Critters Jeff Barnes
1987 Werewolf Eddy Armando
1989 Lean on Me Mr. Rosenberg
Glory Hospital steward
1990 Star Trek: The Next Generation Dr. Farek
1990 Green Card Gorsky, INS agent
1990 L.A. Law Dr. Sam Waibel/Marvin Pick Seasons 4-7
1993 The Man Without a Face Todd Lansing
1994 The Shadow Nelson
Wagons East! CMMDR. S. L. Smedly
1995–2001 Star Trek: Voyager Neelix
1996 Star Trek: First Contact Holodeck Nightclub Maitre d' Uncredited
1997 Trekkies Himself
2000 Star Trek: Voyager Elite Force Neelix Voice
Star Wars: Force Commander Transport Pilot/Governor of Abridon
9mm of Love Guy
2001 Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds Empire medical droid/Krantian governor/Royal grenade trooper
2002 Star Trek: Enterprise Ulis, group leader of Ferengi thieves[2]
The Wild Thornberrys Movie Loris Uncredited
2003 Rugrats Go Wild Toa Voice
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Various/Dantooine Civilian/Galon Lor(Korriban)
Bad Santa Roger Merman
2004 Trekkies 2 Himself
Geeks Himself
2005 The Island Jones Three Echo
2006 Criminal Minds Marvin Doyle
2006 Chestnut: Hero Of Central Park Marty
2007 Super Sweet 16: The Movie Craig
Keith Mr. Miles
Have Dreams, Will Travel Businessman
The Babysitters Mark Kessler
Hallowed Ground Preacher
Cavemen Red Goldreyer
2008 Bones Checker Box Manager
2009 Dahmer Vs. Gacy X-13[3]
2012 Arachnoquake Roy[4]
2013 Inside Llewyn Davis Mitch Gorfein


Enterprise season 1 episode 19 not 18

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]