Ryan Phillippe's first role was as Billy Douglas, daytime television's first
gay teenager, in the ABC daytime drama One Life to Live. After leaving the show,
he moved to Los Angeles, where he appeared in a number of small parts in various
television shows and movies, including White Squall (1996).
Phillippe was cast in the 1997 horror film, I Know What You Did Last Summer, which co-starred Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Jennifer Love Hewitt. The film was a success in October of that year, and led to Phillippe gaining wider renown and being cast in a few more high-profile films, including 54 in 1998 and 1999's Cruel Intentions, a modern retelling of the Choderlos de Laclos' novel, Les Liaisons Dangereuses. The latter film, which also starred Phillippe's future wife, Reese Witherspoon, as well as his I Know What You Did Last Summer co-star, Sarah Michelle Gellar, was a success among its intended teenage audience, cementing Phillippe's ability to play characters that require s-- appeal.
In the years following, Phillippe appeared in the crime comedy The Way of the Gun, starred as a famed software engineer in the thriller Antitrust, and co-starred in Robert Altman's critically-acclaimed Gosford Park, which featured several of England's most respected actors. Subsequently, Phillippe had supporting parts in the films Igby Goes Down (2002) and Crash (2005), which was one of the best-reviewed films of its year and won the Oscar for "Best Picture". His 2003 film, The I Inside, premiered on cable.
Ryan Phillippe and his long-time friends Breckin Meyer, Seth Green, and David E. Siegal run a production company called Lucid Films. Phillippe is becoming more actively involved in his films as a producer.
Ryan Phillippe recently completed filming on a number of films to be released in 2006 or 2007; Chaos, in which he plays a police officer; Five Fingers, a drama set in Morocco; Breach, which chronicles the true story of FBI agent Eric O'Neill, and Flags of our Fathers, directed by Clint Eastwood and following the journey of the men who lifted the flag at the battle of Iwo Jima.
In 1997, Ryan Phillippe attended a party given for actress Reese Witherspoon's 21st birthday. Upon meeting Witherspoon, Phillippe was immediately mesmerized and spent all night talking to the young actress, with Witherspoon reportedly telling Phillippe "I think you're my present". The following morning, Phillippe left California to film I Know What You Did Last Summer, and began a long-distance courtship with Witherspoon by mail, e-mail, and telephone. When Phillippe returned to Los Angeles, the couple continued dating and became engaged in December 1998. The following year, the pair starred in Cruel Intentions together.
Ryan Phillippe and Witherspoon married in the summer of 1999, in a small ceremony on a plantation near North Charleston, South Carolina. On September 9 of that year, the couple had a daughter named Ava Elizabeth, after Phillippe's grandmother. Their son, Deacon (named after Phillippe's distant relative, Deacon Phillippe, a baseball player) was born on October 23, 2003. The family resides in a gated community in Brentwood, California.
When Ryan Phillippe is not spending time with his wife or children, Phillippe enjoys photography, cartooning, and writing.
In September 2005, Witherspoon and their children were celebrating daughter Ava's sixth birthday at Disney's California Adventure theme park when they were approached by paparazzi photographer Todd Wallace. After Witherspoon declined posing for photos at close range, police say Wallace became enraged and pushed a child out of the way, while hitting another with his camera, in his efforts to photograph the actress.
Wallace also allegedly shoved two theme park employees when they attempted to restrain him, and cursed at Witherspoon, causing several children to burst into tears. As a result of the altercation, Wallace was arrested and faced misdemeanor charges.
Before the case went to trial, Wallace was found dead in his apartment in Brentwood. Police are currently investigating the cause of death.
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