Born Matthew Ryan Phillippe
September 10, 1974 (age 41)
New Castle, Delaware, United States
Occupation Actor, director, writer
Years active 1992–present
Spouse(s) Reese Witherspoon (m. 1999; div. 2007)
Matthew Ryan Phillippe ( born September 10, 1974) is an American actor, director, and writer. After appearing on the soap opera One Life to Live, he came to fame in the late 1990s with starring roles in a string of films, including I Know What You Did Last Summer, Cruel Intentions, and 54. In the 2000s, he appeared in several films, including Gosford Park (2001), Crash (2004), and war drama Flags of Our Fathers (2006), Breach (2007), and Stop-Loss (2008). In 2010, Phillippe starred as Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Greg Marinovich in The Bang-Bang Club.
He was married to actress Reese Witherspoon from 1999 to 2007; together, they have a daughter and a son. He also has a daughter from a relationship with actress Alexis Knapp.
Phillippe was born in New Castle, Delaware. His mother, Susan, ran a day care center in the family’s house, and his father, Richard Phillippe, was a chemist. Phillippe is of part French descent. He has three sisters. He attended New Castle Baptist Academy, where he played basketball and soccer, as well as earned a black belt in Tae Kwon Do; he was also the yearbook editor in his senior year. Phillippe also attended and graduated from Barbizon Modeling and Talent Agency in Wilmington, Delaware.
Phillippe’s acting career began after being signed to Cathy Parker Management in Voorhees, NJ. Shortly after he made an appearance in the ABC daytime drama One Life to Live. His character Billy Douglas, whom he played from 1992 to 1993, was the first gay teenager on a daytime soap opera. After leaving the show, Phillippe moved to Los Angeles, where he appeared in a number of small parts in various television series including Matlock, Due South, the TV miniseries The Secrets of Lake Success, and movies, including the 1995 film Crimson Tide and the 1996 film White Squall.
He 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, and led to Phillippe gaining wider renown and being cast in a few more high-profile films, including 54 in 1998 opposite Neve Campbell, Salma Hayek and Mike Myers. In 1999 he starred in Cruel Intentions, a modern retelling of the Choderlos de Laclos novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses, 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. It was a success among its intended teenage audience, cementing Phillippe’s ability to play characters that require sex appeal. Phillippe can also be seen in the Marcy Playground music video “Comin’ Up From Behind”, which appears on the film’s soundtrack.
In 1997, Phillippe attended a party given for actress Reese Witherspoon’s 21st birthday. Upon meeting Witherspoon, Phillippe was reported to have spent all night talking to her, with Witherspoon telling Phillippe, “I think you’re my birthday present.” They started dating and became engaged in December 1998. The following year, the pair starred in Cruel Intentions together. Phillippe and Witherspoon married on June 5, 1999, in a small ceremony at Old Wide Awake Plantation near Charleston, South Carolina, when Witherspoon was six months pregnant.
On September 9, 1999, a daughter named Ava Elizabeth Phillippe, after actress Ava Gardner, was born. Their son, Deacon Reese Phillippe, was born in October 2003 and named after Phillippe’s ancestor, Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Deacon Phillippe, a baseball player at the turn of the 20th century.
On October 30, 2006, Phillippe and Witherspoon released a statement announcing that they had decided to formally separate. Witherspoon filed for divorce on November 8, 2006, citing irreconcilable differences as the cause. In light of the couple’s lack of a prenuptial agreement, she requested that the court refuse to grant spousal support to Phillippe, and asked for joint legal custody and sole physical custody of the pair’s two children. Phillippe filed for joint physical custody of the children on May 15, 2007, and did not seek any spousal support. The couple’s marriage officially ended on October 5, 2007, with final divorce arrangements settled on June 13, 2008, according to court documents. Phillippe and Witherspoon share joint custody of their children.
Phillippe began dating Australian actress Abbie Cornish in 2007 after meeting on the set of Stop-Loss. They split up in February 2010.
Phillippe subsequently dated model/actress Alexis Knapp in the summer of 2010, before splitting in September 2010. After the break-up, Knapp discovered that she was pregnant, and gave birth to a daughter, Kailani Merizalde Phillippe-Knapp, in July 2011. Phillippe was present during the birth.
Phillippe began dating law student Paulina Slagter in 2011.
Phillippe was a close friend of Brooklyn rapper Sean Price. After Price’s passing in August 2015, it was reported that Phillippe got a tattoo to honor Price’s memory.