Family & Companions
Ryan Phillippe first gained attention for his groundbreaking role as daytime television's first openly gay male teen on "One Life to Live" (ABC, 1968-2012). By the end of the 1990s, he had become one of the hottest stars on the twenty-something radar. Teen-oriented hits like "I Know What You Did Last Summer" (1997) and "Cruel Intentions" (1999) gave the chiseled blond actor instant box office cred, but he wisely tempered the multiplex hits with strong performances in smart fare like "Gosford Park" (2001), "The Way of the Gun" (2000), and "Igby Goes Down" (2002), assuring himself a wider range of opportunities and a promising future. Phillippe also provided impressive turns in the dramas "Stop-Loss" (2008) and "Breach" (2007), as well as the comedy "MacGruber" (2010) and the drama "The Lincoln Lawyer" (2011). Although he settled into a comfortable career as a character actor following his initial wave of stardom, thanks to strong performances in a wide array of roles, Phillippe remained a popular performer in demand by both Hollywood and audiences alike.
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. Following that critically-acclaimed film, Phillippe starred in the British science-fiction film "Franklyn" (2009) and co-starred in Will Forte's flop action comedy "MacGruber" (2010). That commercial misfire marked the start of a downturn n Phillippe's fortunes, as several of his starring roles went direct to video, such as the drama "The Bang Bang Club" (2011), action thriller "Setup" (2011) and romantic comedy "Straight A's" (2013). Costarring roles in the Matthew McConaghey comeback vehicle "The Lincoln Lawyer" (2011) and a season-long arc on Glenn Close legal drama "Damages" (FX/Audience Network 2007-2012) kept him in the public eye, but his debut as a writer and director, the thriller "Catch Hell" (2014) also went direct to video. Phillippe co-starred on the first season of mystery anthology "Secrets and Lies" (ABC 2015-16) before starring in cable action drama "Shooter" (USA 2016-18) for its two-season run. Phillippe next appeared in supernatural horror "Wish Upon" (2017).
Director (Feature Film)
Cast (Feature Film)
Made acting debut in ABC's daytime drama "One Life to Live" as a gay teenager
Made primetime debut, "The Secrets of Lake Success" (NBC)
Made feature film debut in "Crimson Tide"
Featured in the ensemble drama, "White Squall"
Appeared in the Gregg Araki ensemble, "Nowhere"
Had first starring role in the thriller "I Know What You Did Last Summer"
Cast opposite Mike Myers in "54" playing a bartender at the legendary NYC disco
Co-starred with Sarah Michelle Gellar and future wife Reese Witherspoon in "Cruel Intentions"
Acted in Christopher McQuarrie's feature directorial debut, "The Way of the Gun"
Starred as a hot shot computer programmer in "Antitrust"
Played the manservant of a visiting American movie producer in Robert Altman's critically-acclaimed "Gosford Park"
Co-starred with Kieran Culkin and Susan Sarandon in the satirical black comedy "Igby Goes Down"
Co-starred in Paul Haggis' Oscar-winning "Crash," a multi-character study of L.A. race relations
Portrayed one of the men who lifted the flag at the battle of Iwo Jima in Clint Eastwood's "Flags of Our Fathers"
Portrayed FBI up-and-comer Eric O'Neill in "Breach" opposite Chris Cooper
Played a war hero in "Stop-Loss" directed by Kimberly Peirce
Co-starred with Will Forte in "MacGruber," based on the "SNL" sketch of the same name
Co-starred as a Beverly Hills playboy accused of murder in "The Lincoln Lawyer"
Played a recurring character on the legal thriller "Damages"
Starred in the drama "Catch Hell"
Landed a starring role on the action series "Shooter"
Appeared on an episode of "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"