Real name: Matthew Ryan Phillippe
Birthdate: May 10, 1974
Partner: Reese Witherspoon
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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 sex appeal.
In 2006, Phillippe played real-life military medical corpsman John Bradley in the war film 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. Phillippe has said that the film was the "best experience" of his career because of its "personal meaning" to him, and that he would have "given life" to fight in World War II, noting that both of his grandfathers fought in the war. Phillippe's role was positively received by film critic Richard Roeper, who specified that he thought it was Phillippe's best performance to date. Phillippe's most recent role was in the thriller Breach, in which he played FBI investigator Eric O'Neill opposite Chris Cooper. He has since commented that he believes Cooper to be "the best actor America has to offer". He has also completed filming on a number of films to be released in 2007 and 2008, including Chaos, in which he plays a police officer, Five Fingers, a drama set in Morocco, and a war-themed film called Stop-Loss, which is directed by Kimberly Peirce. 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.
In 1997, Phillippe attended a party given for actress Reese Witherspoon's 21st birthday. Upon meeting Witherspoon, Phillippe was purported to have spent all night talking to the young actress, with Witherspoon telling Phillippe "I think you're my birthday present". The following morning, Phillippe left California to film I Know What You Did Last Summer, and subsequently 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. Phillippe and Witherspoon married on June 5, 1999, in a small ceremony on a plantation near North Charleston, South Carolina.
On October 30, 2006, Phillippe and Witherspoon released a statement announcing that they had decided to formally separate. After over seven years of marriage, Witherspoon filed for divorce from her husband on November 8, 2006, citing irreconcilable differences. 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. He did not ask for spousal support, and did not block Witherspoon from seeking it from him. At one time, he even contemplated suicide following the split.