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Ryan Phillippe Biography


Home > Actors > P > Phillippe, Ryan > Biography


Birth Name: Ryan Phillippe
Born: 09/10/1974
Birth Place: New Castle, Delaware, USA


Born on Sept. 10, 1974 and raised in New Castle, DE, as a kid, Phillippe played soccer and achieved a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, but his school did not have a theater department so he never considered acting. Around the age of 14, though, he became enamored of the film "Cool Hand Luke" (1967) and subsequently anything Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, and similarly complicated tough guys. He decided he wanted to learn about acting, reading any books he could find on the subject. Not long afterwards, a casting agent discovered the handsome teen while he was getting his haircut at a barbershop. Phillippe began traveling to New York regularly for auditions, and eventually began to land modeling work. At the age of 17, the high school graduate moved to the city and took odd jobs in restaurants and stores to pay the bills, while he built up an acting resume.

In 1992, Phillippe hit pay dirt when he was offered a controversial gay role on "One Life to Live." He boldly accepted the pre-Ellen, pre-"Melrose Place" landmark role; thus jumpstarting his career. The hectic soap shooting schedule was a great training ground for the new actor, and the amount of fan mail he received from troubled teens who related to his character was an enormous encouragement. Unfortunately, the show wrote out the character in less than a year, and an unemployed Phillippe took the opportunity to move to Hollywood and try his luck there. In Los Angeles, a penniless Phillippe lived in a garage and could not afford a car, so he skateboarded or took the bus to auditions. After one audition, he was offered a ride home by fellow struggling actor Breckin Myer, who introduced him to his roommate Seth Green. The trio became fast friends, spending nights skating and getting in trouble on the street as the rest of the Hollywood nightlife was still way out of reach. But before long, all three were making career headway, with Phillippe landing guest and supporting spots on primetime TV and eventually starring in an unsold ABC pilot "Time Well Spent" (1995) and the Fox TV movie "Deadly Invasion: The Killer Bee Nightmare" (1995).

Phillippe made his screen debut as a glorified extra in "Crimson Tide" (1995), but his higher profile role as a timid student on board a floating prep school in "White Squall" (1996) began to earn him widespread recognition. He landed a lead role as a young man striving for normalcy in a dysfunctional family in the competent indie, "Little Boy Blue" (1997) before he suddenly found himself alongside Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze, Jr. in the horror thriller "I Know What You Did Last Summer" (1997). With the release of that colossal hit film, Phillippe was an overnight pin-up sensation - a position which he was thoroughly unprepared for. The film's other hot properties began a long run in the gossip pages, but Phillippe - other than buying a truck - continued hanging around with his buddies on the fringe of the rich and famous. That is, until he met the bubbly up-and-coming actress Reese Witherspoon later that year at her 21st birthday party. After she coyly declared to the handsome actor, "I think you're my birthday present." the pair became an instant item, starting a long distance love affair by phone and e-mail. When Phillippe returned to LA after filming "I Know What You Did Last Summer," the couple continued dating and became engaged in December 1998. They would marry in June 1999 and welcome two children, Ava and Deacon, during their celebrated seven-year marriage.

Onscreen, Phillippe turned down offers to appear in more surefire teen hits; instead choosing to work with Billy Bob Thornton and Kelly Lynch in the little-seen cannabis comedy "Homegrown" (1998) and giving a great performance as a naive bartender caught up in the hedonistic world of disco, in the ultimately disappointing "54" (1998). The indie films had been worthwhile ventures, but Phillippe struck a balance of "interesting" and "potential commercial success" with "Cruel Intentions" (1999), Roger Kumble's update of "Les Liaisons Dangereuses." Set among prep school students, Phillippe portrayed a modern-day Valmont in the stylish and successful film, with Witherspoon his onscreen love, before exploring darker territory in "The Way of the Gun" (2000), an offbeat action comedy co-starring Benicio del Toro.

Continuing to test the waters with an entirely new audience, Phillippe appeared in Robert Altman's period piece "Gosford Park" (2001). The film, which was nominated for a Best Film Oscar, proved that the ogled-over hunk actor had substance and appeal far outside of his initial proving ground. Phillippe won further acclaim for his deft portrayal of smooth older brother Oliver Slocumb in the 2002 indie comedy "Igby Goes Down." In 2005 Phillippe turned in yet another powerful performance in the Oscar-winning Best Picture "Crash" (2005), playing an LAPD patrol officer who is troubled by the prejudices of his partner (Matt Dillon). Phillippe's next film gave him the chance to stretch as an actor under the direction of Oscar-winning director Clint Eastwood in the World War II epic, "Flags of Our Fathers" (2006). Film critic Richard Roeper singled out Phillippe's portrayal of U.S. Navy corpsman John "Doc" Bradley as the best of his career.

Phillippe was now steadily receiving offers to work with highly-respected directors in varied dramatic roles, and he delivered the goods again with "Breach" (2007). The film was based on the true story of an FBI operative (Chris Cooper) convicted of spying for the Soviet Union, and was hailed by critics who were up in arms that the film had been released at the slowest time of the year with little promotion. Phillippe followed up with a starring role in "Stop-Loss" (2008), the story of a returning Iraq war soldier from "Boys Don't Cry" director Kimberly Peirce.