Ryan Phillippe

Ryan Phillippe Biography

Television Actor, Film Actor (1974–)
Ryan Phillippe is an American actor who rose to fame in the 1990s with roles in the films 'I Know What You Did Last Summer' and 'Cruel Intentions.' He went on to star in the conspiracy thriller series 'Shooter.'

Who Is Ryan Phillippe?

Born in New Castle, Delaware, in 1974, Ryan Phillippe first made his mark on television on the soap opera One Life to Live. By the late 1990s, he was among Hollywood's leading heartthrobs thanks to roles in the horror flick I Know What You Did Last Summer and the campy drama Cruel Intentions. Phillippe later found success in more mature roles, earning acclaim for contributions to Flags of Our Fathers (2006) and Breach (2007), as well as the first season of Secrets and Lies. Since 2016, he has starred as sniper Bob Lee Swagger in USA Network's Shooter.

Ryan Phillippe Photo

Ryan Phillippe attends Build the Cast of 'Wish Upon' at Build Studio on July 10, 2017 in New York City. 


'I Know What You Did,' '54,' and 'Cruel Intentions'

Following early roles in Crimson Tide (1995) and White Squall (1996), Phillippe enjoyed a breakout role as hot-headed jock Barry Cox in the horror flick I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997), with Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jr. A follow-up effort, the disco and drugs infused 54 (1998), flopped despite the inclusion of big-name stars like Mike Myers and Salma Hayek. However, the young actor enjoyed another success alongside Gellar and then-girlfriend Reese Witherspoon in Cruel Intentions (1999), an adaptation of Les Liaisons dangereuses for the teenage set that endured as a cult hit with its over-the-top sexuality.

'Gosford Park,' 'Crash' and 'Flags of Our Fathers'

Following leading roles in box office disappointments like The Way of the Gun (2000), Phillippe rediscovered his footing via smaller parts in critically lauded ensemble films. In Robert Altman's whodunit Gosford Park (2001), he played a supposed valet alongside heavyweights like Maggie Smith and Helen Mirren. Similarly, in the Oscar Best Picture winner Crash (2005), his conflicted rookie cop was just one of many pieces in a story of class and racial conflict. The attention led to his most acclaimed role to date, as John "Doc" Bradley in Clint Eastwood's World War II epic Flags of Our Fathers (2006). Unlike earlier efforts, which largely showcased his sex appeal, Flags gave Phillippe the chance to prove his merit as an actor, with Rolling Stone hailing his "hauntingly implosive performance."

'Breach,' 'Stop-Loss' and 'The Bang Bang Club'

Phillippe followed with another well-received performance in Breach (2007), as a young FBI operative tapped to expose the treasonous activities of a senior double agent, played by Chris Cooper. He subsequently headlined Stop-Loss (2008), about young vets called back to active duty, which garnered little box office attention despite strong reviews. Along those lines, the bloody but ambitious The Bang Bang Club (2010), in which he played a photographer documenting the final days of apartheid in South Africa, failed to land with audiences.

'MacGruber' to 'Wish Upon'

After a comedic turn in the action spoof MacGruber (2010), based on Will Forte's Saturday Night Live creation, Phillippe turned to the dark side for his twisted role in The Lincoln Lawyer (2011). A series of straight-to-video releases followed, prompting the actor to take control of his creative efforts and make his directing debut with Catch Hell (2015). He then returned to his horror roots in Wish Upon (2017), as a father who unwittingly endangers his daughter with the gift of a mysterious music box.

TV Shows


In late 2016, Phillippe began his run as sniper Bob Lee Swagger on USA Network's Shooter, based on a book series by Stephen Hunter that also spawned a 2007 feature with Mark Wahlberg. The conspiracy thriller proved to have staying power despite mixed reviews, a result its star attributed to the decision to make Swagger more of a family man than the character portrayed in the film. "They are the center of his world and the people he would do anything to protect and provide for," said Phillippe. "I feel like we have a multifaceted show that way, where it's got some elements of heart, but it's also got very gritty and realistic action."

After spending the first season on the lam as he sought to clear his name from an assassination attempt, Phillippe spent Season 2 on the hunt for an equally formidable sharpshooter. With the show earning a renewal in December 2017, Season 3 kicked off the following June.

'Damages' and 'Secrets and Lies'

In 2012 Phillippe joined the final season of Damages as the founder of a whistleblower website, though his presence took a backseat to the courtroom dramatics and manipulations of co-stars Glenn Close and Rose Byrne. That wasn't the case for Season 1 of Secrets and Lies, which focused squarely on his portrayal of family man and murder suspect Ben Garner. Phillippe drew some of the strongest reviews of his career for the performance, though the completion of his character's arc meant he wouldn't be back for the second season.

'One Life To Live'

At age 17, Phillippe was tapped by the soap opera One Life to Live for the groundbreaking role of Billy Douglas, the first openly gay teenager on a TV show. His character, portrayed as bright and well adjusted, was written off the soap after only a year, but the actor took note of the reception he received years before Will & Grace and Ellen DeGeneres celebrated LGBTQ culture on the small screen. "I remember the fan mail that my mother and I would get," he recalled. "From gay teenagers or from parents of gay teenagers who found a way in to relate to or talk to their child through this show. ... I'm proud that that's something that I can say was a part of my career."

Marriage to Reese Witherspoon

Phillippe met Witherspoon at the 21st birthday party for the actress, during which time she reportedly told him, "I think you're my birthday present." They were soon an item, and on June 5, 1999, the two were married at the Old Wide Awake Plantation in South Carolina. The Hollywood power couple managed to juggle roles and family for several years, before announcing their separation in October 2006 and formalizing their divorce the following year. Each later cited the difficulties of getting married at a young age and enduring the scrutiny of celebrity culture, though they reportedly patched things up and became good friends again.

Other Major Relationships

Following the whispers that his blossoming romance with Stop-Loss co-star Abbie Cornish contributed to his split with Witherspoon, Phillippe went on to date the Australian actress for four years, until their breakup spilled into the tabloids in early 2011. Phillippe then became involved with law student Paulina Slagter, the two even getting engaged in December 2015, before calling it quits the following November.


Phillippe has two children with Witherspoon: Daughter Ava Elizabeth was born in September 1999, and son Deacon Reese followed in October 2003. Additionally, Phillippe had daughter Kailani Merizalde with actress Alexis Knapp in July 2011.

Domestic Violence Accusation

In September 2017, model Elsie Hewitt filed a $1 million lawsuit against Phillippe, alleging that her then-boyfriend assaulted her and pushed her down a flight of stairs during a fight over the July 4th holiday. Phillippe vehemently denied the claims, his case seemingly bolstered by the conclusion of a criminal investigation that determined he would not face charges. However, it was also discovered that Phillippe's former fiancée Paulina Slagter had filed a report in March 2017 for a slew of "aggressive" and "extremely angry" texts from the actor, before dropping the case. Hewitt subsequently sought to obtain texts and other documents that referred to Phillippe's physical training routine and drug and alcohol use, as well as any communications that addressed the alleged incident.


Thanks to his propensity for appearing shirtless on film and social media, Phillippe has provided clear views of his ever-growing swath of tattoos. His collection includes a picture of hands holding behind his right shoulder, symbolizing the meeting between his son and his grandfather, and the likeness of deceased rapper Sean Price imprinted on his left forearm. In late 2017, the body art spread to Phillippe's chest with the addition of a winged figure on his left pectoral muscle.


In July 2017, Phillippe suffered a broken right leg while attempting to corral an out-of-control utility task vehicle during a family outing. The accident came while there were still two episodes left to film in Season 2 of Shooter, but producers decided they had enough to wrap things up for the season. That helped simplify things for the star, who was able to wait out his recovery and jump back into training once cleared for such activity that December.

Height and Net Worth

Phillippe is generally listed as standing 5'8" or 5'9". Sources also vary slightly on his net worth, with Celebrity Net Worth pegging him at an even $30 million and The Richest proposing a figure of $32 million.

Delaware to Hollywood

Matthew Ryan Phillippe was born on September 10, 1974, in New Castle, Delaware. His father, Richard, worked as a chemist for DuPont, and mother, Susan, ran a daycare out of the family home, adding to an already crowded household that included Ryan and his three sisters.

Although he was intrigued by the idea of acting, Phillippe never gave serious thought to pursuing the craft as a youngster. However, while getting his hair cut at age 15, a woman in the barber shop spotted the handsome teenager and suggested that Susan take her boy to a friend's modeling agency in Philadelphia. Phillippe subsequently spent his time between classes at New Castle Baptist Academy heading to Philly and then New York, where auditions led to commercials and his role on One Life to Live.

Moving to Los Angeles after his soap opera run, Phillippe found himself back at square one alongside countless other young men and women with big screen dreams, riding the bus or his skateboard to auditions because he couldn't afford a car.

Instagram and Twitter

Along with posting workout pics, Phillippe regularly enjoys engaging with fans on social media. He conducted a Twitter Q&A about Shooter while recovering from his broken leg, and the following spring, while admittedly drinking, he delivered an amusing running commentary of the royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Phillippe also clearly grasps the potential of social media as a personal classified ad board, as illustrated by his July 2018 posting of a photo of a 1972 GMC Jimmy to Instagram with the caption: "Whoever's car this is I saw this morn, I will buy it from you if you see this & they are selling. DM me!"

Workout Routine and App

Phillippe is known for his toned, chiseled frame, hardly an accident since he's been exercising four to five times per week with his trusty trainer, Happy Hill, since the late 1990s. The two swear by their "prison-style workout," nicknamed as such for its use of bodyweight and basic equipment exercises like pull-ups, bench presses, dips and crunches.

After years of fielding questions about how he managed to remain in remarkable shape, Phillippe in 2017 launched the Become app, designed to help men 40 and older transform their dad bodies by offering workout and nutritional plans.

Fact Check

We strive for accuracy and fairness. If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us!