Ethan Phillips

Ethan Phillips (born 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.

Ethan Phillips
Phillips in 2009
Born (1955-02-08) February 8, 1955 (age 65)
EducationBoston University (BA)
Cornell University (MFA)
OccupationActor, playwright
Years active1977–present
Patricia Cresswell
(m. 1990)

Personal lifeEdit

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.



Ethan 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 fifteen 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 Pattie 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, Ethan 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 is 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 fifty 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. 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, playing PR man Pete Downey for five seasons.

He has made scores of guest appearances on television series and tele films, including Pushing Daisies, Bones (TV Series), Eli Stone, Criminal Minds, NUMB3RS, Las Vegas, L.A. Law, JAG, Law & Order, Arrested Development, Boston Legal, Castle, Rizzoli & Isles, The Good Guys and 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 character, Dr. Farek, in the "Ménage à Troi" episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. He went on to play 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 on an episode of Star Trek: Enterprise.

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 Film 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
1989 Glory Hospital Steward
1989 Bloodhounds of Broadway Basil Valentine
1990 Green Card Gorsky, INS agent
1991 Critters 3 Deputy
1993 Rain Without Thunder Gynecologist
1993 The Man Without a Face Todd Lansing
1994 The Shadow Nelson
1994 Wagons East CMMDR. S. L. Smedly
1995 Jeffrey Dave
1996 Star Trek: First Contact Holodeck Nightclub Maitre d' Uncredited
1997 Trekkies Himself
1997 For Richer or Poorer Jerry
1998 The Battery Bernard Short film
2000 Endsville Terry Festinger
2000 9mm of Love Guy
2002 The Wild Thornberrys Movie Loris Uncredited
2003 Rugrats Go Wild Toa Voice
2003 Bad Santa Roger Merman
2004 Trekkies 2 Himself Documentary
2004 Geeks Himself Documentary
2005 The Island Jones Three Echo
2006 Chestnut: Hero of Central Park Marty
2007 Keith Mr. Miles
2007 Have Dreams, Will Travel (aka A West Texas Children's Story) Businessman
2007 The Babysitters Mark Kessler
2007 California Dreaming Wayne Porter
2009 Dahmer Vs. Gacy X-13[11]
2012 Arachnoquake Roy
2012 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
2016 Miles Mr. Wilson
2017 Future '38 Dr. Elcourt
2018 Most Likely to Murder Dad


Year Film Role Notes
1980–1985 Benson Peter 'Pete' John Downey Seasons 2-6
1983 One Life to Live Mr. Darrin 2 episodes
1983 Hart to Hart Redstone Episode: "Pandora Has Wings"
1985 Three's a Crowd Ronnie Pine Episode: "Jack Gets Trashed"
1985 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"
1987 Werewolf Eddy Armando
1990 Star Trek: The Next Generation Dr. Farek Episode: "Ménage à Troi"
1990 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"
1991 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"
1996 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"
2002 Star Trek: Enterprise Ulis, group leader of Ferengi thieves Episode: "Acquisition"
2002 Rocket Power Shop Owner (voice) Episode: "Less Than Full Otto/Card Sharked"
2002 Half & Half Dr. Adelman Episode: "The Big Award Episode"
2002 Providence Finch Episode: "Truth and Consequences"
2003 Touched by an Angel Wally Episode: "The Show Must Not Go On"
2003 Rock Me Baby The Doctor Episode: "Pretty in Pink Eye"
2004 8 Simple Rules Dave Episode: "YMCA"
2004 JAG Mr. Worley Episode: "Take It Like a Man"
2004 Arrested Development Military Officer Episode: "Whistler's Mother"
2004 Oliver Beene Mr. Stitt 2 episodes
2005 Las Vegas Gabe Labrador Episode: "Double Down, Triple Threat"
2006 Numb3rs Professor Leonard Episode: "Double Down"
2006 Criminal Minds Marvin Doyle Episode: "A Real Rain"
2006 Boston Legal Michael Schiller 3 episodes
2006 The War at Home Bob Cooper Episode: "Be Careful What You Ask For"
2007 Cavemen Red Goldreyer
2007 Super Sweet 16: The Movie Craig TV movie
2007 Hallowed Ground Preacher TV movie
2007 Star Trek: Of Gods and Men Data Clerk Miniseries
2008 Eli Stone Principal Ackerman Episode: "I Want Your Sex"
2008 Bones Checker Box Manager Episode: "The Wannabe in the Weeds"
2008 Pushing Daisies Daniel Hill Episode: "Robbing Hood"
2009 Mental Hollis Breyer Episode: "Book of Judges"
2009 True Blood Parish Coroner Episode: "Shake and Fingerpop"
2010 Rizzoli & Isles John J. Murray Episode: "I Kissed a Girl"
2010 The Good Guys Alphonse LaViolette Episode: "Common Enemies"
2010 The Middle Chairman Episode: "The Quarry"
2010 Days of Our Lives Mr. Satterfield Episode #1.11456
2011 Castle James Farnham Episode: "The Final Nail"
2011 The Mentalist Newsome Kirk Episode: "The Red Mile"
2011 The Young and the Restless Nelson McGinnis Episode: "Tucker Is Taken Off Life Support"
2011 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"
2016 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"
2018 Better Call Saul Judge Benedict Munsinger
2018 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 gamesEdit

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. ^
  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 readingEdit

External linksEdit