A lot of people think Ryan Phillippe got his big break in the 1997 film I Know What You Did Last Summer but it was a long-running soap opera that gave him his first taste of fame at a very young age.
Ryan was in his teen years when he joined the cast of ABC’s One Life To Live in a role that was quite controversial at the time.
He played Billy Douglas, the first openly gay character on daytime television at that point. Ryan paved way for other LGBTQ storylines to happen in the years to come, notably Bianca’s (Eden Riegel) emotional coming out to her mother Erica (Susan Lucci) on All My Children, but the damage was already done in his personal life for him choosing to take on that role.
“I had grown up going to, like, Baptist school and Christian school. When I was a senior in high school, I played the first gay character on a soap opera — first gay teenager ever — and so I was shunned at that point,” he said in an interview with Female First.
“I mean this was 1992, and I was playing a gay teenager and I was in a Christian school,” he continued. They weren’t happy about it.”
Years later he played the scandalous part of Sebastian Valmont in Cruel Intentions which features arguably one of the best butt shots in cinematic history (his, of course). The film’s racy material, which includes drugs use and strong sexual dialogue and sexual situations (some of it being same sex), made Ryan think that his parents would “disown” him for signing on to it.
“I remember walking out the trailer and finding [the producer]. I’m like, ‘Are you guys really going to make this?’ And he said, ‘Yeah.’ And I was you know — I’ve still never played a character like that since.”
The Crash star is still very proud of the film all this time later. “It’s cool that it holds up, man, you know, a lot of times to take a movie from a specific point in time that’s supposed to connect with a younger crowd and it just stays. This movie somehow finds new fans all the time.”