Ethan Phillips

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Ethan Phillips
Phillips in 2009
Born (1955-02-08) February 8, 1955 (age 68)
EducationBoston University (BA)
Cornell University (MFA)
Occupation(s)Actor, playwright
Years active1977–present
Patricia Cresswell
(m. 1990; died 2022)

Ethan Phillips (born John Ethan Phillips February 8, 1955) is an American actor and playwright. He is best known for his television roles as Neelix on Star Trek: Voyager and PR man Pete Downey on Benson.

Personal life[edit]

Phillips was raised on Long Island, New York. His father was the owner of Frankie & Johnnie's, a steakhouse on 45th and Eighth Avenue in New York City.[1] He received a bachelor's degree in English literature from Boston University and a Master of Fine Arts from Cornell University. He plays the tenor saxophone in the Alan Wasserman Jazz Band.



Phillips began his show business career in New York City, performing off-Broadway at theaters including Direct Theater, winning the Best of the Actors’ Festival there in 1977; at the Wonderhorse Theater, in the premiere of Christopher Durang's The Nature and Purpose of the Universe; and at Playwrights Horizons in a revival of Eccentricities of a Nightingale. Tennessee Williams, who helped shape the latter production, wrote a new monologue for Phillips, which Williams personally dictated to him when it was realized that leading lady Jill Eikenberry needed more time for a dress change.

In 1979–80, Phillips appeared as Maurice Utrillo in the premier of Dennis McIntyre's Modigliani, with Jeffrey DeMunn, at the Astor Place Theater. It ran for 208 performances.

Phillips performed in many plays in New York over the next 15 years, including Terrence McNally's Lips Together, Teeth Apart at the Lucille Lortel, Measure for Measure with Kevin Kline at The Public Theater's Delacorte Theater; and the Broadway premier of My Favorite Year at Lincoln Center, with Andrea Martin and Tim Curry, as well as new works for Ars Nova (theater), Ensemble Studio Theatre, Playwrights Horizons,[2] the Hudson Guild Theater,[3] the American Jewish Theater,[4] and many others.

He went on to appear in the premier of David Mamet's November with Nathan Lane and Laurie Metcalf at the Ethel Barrymore Theater and performed it once more with John Malkovich and Patti Lupone for Stars in the House. He played the title character opposite Peter Dinklage in The Imaginary Invalid for Bard College's 2012 SummerScape Festival. In 2013-14 he appeared as Stanley Levison in Robert Schenkkan's All the Way at the American Repertory Theater. Phillips moved with the show to Broadway's Neil Simon Theater where the play won the Tony Award for Best Play and Best Actor, Bryan Cranston. More recently Phillips played leading roles in the premiers of Dennis Kelly’s Taking Care of Baby, Terrence McNally's Golden Age, and Sharyn Rothstein's By the Water, all for the Manhattan Theatre Club (off-Broadway). Most recently, Phillips played Murray Lefkowitz in the Broadway premier of Ayad Akhtar's Junk: The Golden Age of Debt at Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont Theater.

Phillips' regional theater credits include leading roles for San Diego's Old Globe Theater, the Alaska Repertory Theater,[5] at Seattle Repertory Theater, at Baltimore's Centerstage, for the Westport Country Playhouse, Boston Shakespeare Company, Actors Theater of Louisville, The American Repertory Theater, the Salt Lake Acting Co.,[6] and the McCarter Theatre.[7] 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, in The Bourgeois Gentleman for the Pasadena Symphony, and as Polonius in Hamlet for the Uprising Theater.[8]

Phillips has been an actor at the Sundance Institute's Playwrights Conference in Utah for six summers, where he developed his play Penguin Blues, which is published by Samuel French Inc.[9] and included in The Best Short Plays of 1989 (Applause, ed. Ramon Delgado). Based on his experiences at Sundance,[10] Phillips helped found First Stage, a playwright development lab in Los Angeles.


Phillips has appeared in over 50 films, beginning with Ragtime (directed by Miloš Forman). Other features include For Richer or Poorer, Jeffrey, The Shadow, Wagons East, The Man Without a Face, Green Card, Lean On Me, Critters, Bloodhounds of Broadway, The Island, Bad Santa, and The Babysitters. His more recent films include Shadow Witness, Audrey, the Coen Brothers' Inside Llewyn Davis, Woody Allen's Irrational Man, and James DeMonaco's The Purge: Election Year.


In 1980, Phillips joined the cast of the sitcom Benson as PR man Pete Downey, for five seasons.

He has made scores of guest appearances on television series and tele films, including Pushing Daisies, Bones, Eli Stone, Criminal Minds, NUMB3RS, Las Vegas, L.A. Law, JAG, Law & Order, Arrested Development, Boston Legal, Touched by an Angel,Castle, Rizzoli & Isles, The Good Guys, The Mentalist, Deadbeat, The Good Wife, New Amsterdam (2018 TV series), Better Call Saul and Veep. He played the recurring role of Keith in the final two seasons of Lena Dunham's Girls. He currently plays Spike Martin in Armando Iannucci's space comedy Avenue 5 on HBO.

In 1990, he began his Star Trek career playing the Ferengi doctor Farek in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Ménage à Troi". He went on to play the Talaxian character Neelix on Star Trek: Voyager in 1995, and stayed with the series through its entire seven-season run. He also cameoed as a holographic nightclub maître d' in the 1996 film Star Trek: First Contact, and appeared as a Ferengi pirate captain in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Acquisition".

Phillips has also performed voice work for several of the Star Wars franchise video games: 2000's Star Wars: Force Commander, 2001's Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds, and 2003's Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.



Year Title Role Notes
1981 Ragtime Guard At Family House
1986 Critters Jeff Barnes
1987 Burglar Bartender At Parker's On Fifth
1989 Lean on Me Mr. Rosenberg
Glory Hospital Steward
Bloodhounds of Broadway Basil Valentine
1990 Green Card INS Agent Gorsky
1991 Critters 3 Deputy
1993 Rain Without Thunder The Gynecologist
The Man Without a Face Todd Lansing
1994 The Shadow Nelson
Wagons East Commander S. L. Smedly
1995 Jeffrey Dave
1996 Star Trek: First Contact Holodeck Nightclub Maitre d' Uncredited
1997 Trekkies Himself
For Richer or Poorer Jerry
1998 The Battery Bernard Short film
2000 Endsville Terry Festinger
9mm of Love Guy
2002 The Wild Thornberrys Movie Loris Uncredited
2003 Rugrats Go Wild Toa The Monkey Voice
Bad Santa Roger Merman
2004 Trekkies 2 Himself Documentary
Geeks Himself Documentary
2005 The Island Jones Three Echo
2006 Chestnut: Hero of Central Park Marty
2007 Keith Mr. Miles
Have Dreams, Will Travel (aka A West Texas Children's Story) Businessman
The Babysitters Mark Kessler
California Dreaming Wayne Porter
2010 Dahmer vs. Gacy X-13[11]
2012 Arachnoquake Roy
The Adventures of RoboRex Randy Jenkins
2013 Inside Llewyn Davis Mitch Gorfein
2014 Audrey Donny
2015 Irrational Man Jill's Father
2016 The Purge: Election Year Chief Couper
Miles Mr. Wilson
2017 Future '38 Dr. Elcourt
2018 Most Likely to Murder Bobby Green


Year Title Role Notes
1980–1985 Benson Peter "Pete" John Downey Seasons 2-6
1983 One Life to Live Mr. Darrin 2 episodes
Hart to Hart Redstone Episode: "Pandora Has Wings"
1985 Three's a Crowd Ronnie Pine Episode: "Jack Gets Trashed"
The Twilight Zone Deaver Segment: "Devil's Alphabet"
1986 Hunter State Department Man Episode: "High Noon in L.A."
1987 Outlaws Vernon Buckley Episode: "Jackpot"
Werewolf Eddy Armando
1990 Star Trek: The Next Generation Dr. Farek Episode: "Ménage à Troi"
Doogie Howser, M.D. Advertiser Episode: "Ask Dr. Doogie"
1990-1993 L.A. Law Dr. Sam Waibel / Marvin Pick 2 episodes
1991 Father Dowling Mysteries Leonard Spalding Episode: "The Monkey Business Mystery"
Murphy Brown Richard Cooper Episode: "Everytime It Rains... You Get Wet"
1992 Law & Order Mark Hauser Episode: "Helpless"
1993 NYPD Blue Dwight Episode: "True Confessions"
1994 The Mommies Omelette Chef Episode: "Mommies Day"
1995 Platypus Man Vern Tuttle Episode: "Pilot"
1995–2001 Star Trek: Voyager Neelix Main cast, 170 episodes
1995 Maybe This Time Douglas Episode: "Judgment Day"
1996 Chicago Hope Bob Stewart Episode: "Sexual Perversity in Chicago Hope"
Homeboys in Outer Space Inspector 17 Episode: "House Party or, Play That Funky White Music Droid"
1998 From the Earth to the Moon Stanley Craig TV miniseries
Episode: "We Interrupt This Program"
1998 The Lost World Copy Boy TV movie
2002 Rugrats Storyteller (voice) Episode: "Quiet, Please"/"Early Retirement"
Star Trek: Enterprise Ulis, Group Leader of Ferengi Thieves Episode: "Acquisition"
Rocket Power Shop Owner (voice) Episode: "Less Than Full Otto"/"Card Sharked"
Half & Half Dr. Adelman Episode: "The Big Award Episode"
Providence Finch Episode: "Truth and Consequences"
2003 Touched by an Angel Wally Episode: "The Show Must Not Go On"
Rock Me Baby The Doctor Episode: "Pretty in Pink Eye"
2004 8 Simple Rules Dave Episode: "YMCA"
JAG Mr. Worley Episode: "Take It Like a Man"
Arrested Development Military Officer Episode: "Whistler's Mother"
Oliver Beene Mr. Stitt 2 episodes
2005 Las Vegas Gabe Labrador Episode: "Double Down, Triple Threat"
2006 Numb3rs Professor Leonard Episode: "Double Down"
Criminal Minds Marvin Doyle Episode: "A Real Rain"
Boston Legal Michael Schiller 3 episodes
The War at Home Bob Cooper Episode: "Be Careful What You Ask For"
2007 Cavemen "Red" Goldreyer
Super Sweet 16: The Movie Craig TV movie
Hallowed Ground The Preacher TV movie
Star Trek: Of Gods and Men Data Clerk Miniseries
2008 Eli Stone Principal Ackerman Episode: "I Want Your Sex"
Bones Checker Box Manager Episode: "The Wannabe in the Weeds"
Pushing Daisies Daniel Hill Episode: "Robbing Hood"
2009 Mental Hollis Breyer Episode: "Book of Judges"
True Blood Parish Coroner Episode: "Shake and Fingerpop"
2010 Rizzoli & Isles John J. Murray Episode: "I Kissed a Girl"
The Good Guys Alphonse LaViolette Episode: "Common Enemies"
The Middle The Chairman Episode: "The Quarry"
Days of Our Lives Mr. Satterfield Episode #1.11456
2011 Castle James Farnham Episode: "The Final Nail"
The Mentalist Newsome Kirk Episode: "The Red Mile"
The Young and the Restless Nelson McGinnis Episode: "Tucker Is Taken Off Life Support"
Chuck Woodley Episode: "Chuck Versus the Zoom"
2012 Arachnoquake Roy TV movie
2014 Deadbeat Jack Donaldson Episode: "Calamityville Horror"
2015 Veep Mr. Wallace 2 episodes
2016 The Good Wife Dr. Morris Weiner Episode: "Tracks"
All the Way Joe Alsop TV movie
2016–2017 Girls Keith 5 episodes
2016 Younger Paul Episode: "Summer Friday"
2018 Dallas & Robo Bob (voice) Episode: "I Was a Teenage Cannibal Biker"
Better Call Saul Judge Benedict Munsinger 2 episodes: "Talk" and "Coushatta"
New Amsterdam Dan Marken Episode: "Anthropocene"
2020 Avenue 5 Spike Williams Main cast


Year Title Role Theatre
1992 My Favorite Year Herb Lee Vivian Beaumont Theater
2008 November Turkey Rep Ethel Barrymore Theatre
2014 All the Way Stanley Levison Neil Simon Theatre
2017 Junk: The Golden Age of Debt Murray Lefkowitz Vivian Beaumont Theater

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2000 Star Trek: Voyager – Elite Force Neelix Voice
Star Wars: Force Commander Transport Pilot, Governor of Abridon
2001 Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds Empire Medical Droid, Krantian Governor, Royal Grenade Trooper
2003 Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Galon Lor (Korriban), Tamlen, Hrakert Mercenary, Dantooine Civilian, Various
2004 Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain Broussard, Canadian Prime Minister
2014 Star Trek Online Neelix


  1. ^ Phillips, Ethan (November 19, 2018). "At Frankie & Johnnie's (Metropolitan Diary)". The New York Times. New York. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  2. ^ "Home". Ensemble Studio Theatre.
  3. ^ "Hudson Guild".
  4. ^ "Jewish Theater of New York Homepage".
  5. ^ "Alaska Repertory Theatre Company".
  6. ^ "Salt Lake Acting Company - Home".
  7. ^ "Home - McCarter Theatre".
  8. ^ "Home - Uprising Theatre Company". Uprising Theatre Company.
  9. ^ "Samuel French – Licensing Plays and Musicals to the Theatrical Community".
  10. ^ "Sundance Institute".
  11. ^ "Motion Picture Purgatory: The Moth Diaries - Dread Central". 19 April 2012.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]