American actor Ryan Phillippe started his acting career as a teenager, signing with Cathy Parker Management. He starred in the ABC daytime show One Life to Live (1992-1993) as Billy Douglas. Phillippe became the first actor to play the role of a gay teenager on a daytime show.
Matthew Ryan Phillippe was born in New Castle, Delaware, on September 10, 1974. Like many actors, he did not come from a family of artists; his mother ran a daycare center, and his father was a chemist. Phillippe became interested in acting at 15. Luckily, a casting agent spotted him at a barber’s shop because of his good looks. He attended several auditions before landing a modeling job in Philadelphia.
Phillippe later moved to Los Angeles, California, where he appeared in several movies, including Crimson Tide (1995) and White Squall (1996). His appearance in the hit movie I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) spun his career to another level, making him famous, and casting him in high-profile movies such as 54 (1998) and Cruel Intentions (1999).
Ryan appeared as John Bradley in the film Flags of Our Fathers (2006), a movie that highlighted the journey of the U.S. marines who famously lifted the American flag in the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II. The actor said that the film was the best experience of his acting career. He added that it had a personal meaning for him; had he been around then, he would have given his life to fight in World War II, because both of his grandfathers had. According to critic Richard Roeper, Flags of Our Fathers was Phillippe’s “best performance.”
Phillippe also starred as a photographer in The Big Bang Club (2010), a South African/Canadian production. The movie tells the story of four South African photographers documenting how bloody apartheid ended. He described the production process as “really run-and-gun,” and confessed that working on the film in Soweto affected him, because there were so many funerals always happening, and the children there lived in poverty. Consequently, the experience inspired Phillippe to become proactive in supporting African-based charities.
Besides acting, Phillippe is also a director and producer. He directed his first movie, Catch Hell, in 2011, where he was also part of the cast. Phillippe was also narrator and executive producer for the adventure documentary Isolated in 2013. In 2016, he appeared in the lead role on TV action/drama, Shooter, as Bob Lee Swagger.
Though he has received many awards and nominations, despite his success as an actor Phillippe is his own harshest critic, and confesses that he doesn’t like to watch movies he has starred in. Behind his good looks and charm, the actor considers himself sad and empathic, having battled depression since childhood.
Phillippe is a fan of rap music and was best friends with the late rapper Sean Price. His favorite sport is baseball; so much so, he named his son, Deacon Reese Phillippe, after his distant relative, Deacon Phillippe, who pitched for the Pittsburgh Pirates.