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Ryan Phillippe's Parents 'Shunned' Him Over Gay Role, Cruel Intentions

Ryan Phillippe

Ryan Phillippe's parents were not pleased with his role choices early in his acting career.

Richard and Susan Phillippe "shunned" the Big Sky actor for his role as One Life to Live's Billy Douglas, the first gay character on a soap opera, which he portrayed during the early '90s.

"I'd grown up going to Baptist school, Christian school, and stuff," Phillippe told KFC Radio. "My first role ever, though, coming out of the Christian school when I was a senior in high school, I played the first gay character on a soap opera, the first gay teenager ever. So I was shunned at that point, so they were already out of the picture."

His religious parents were also unpleased with his follow-up role: Sebastian Valmont, the lecherous antihero of the 1999 film Cruel Intentions, which also included queer characters. Notably, the cult movie featured a kiss between Sarah Michelle Gellar and Selma Blair; Joshua Jackson also portrayed a gay role.

"I thought my parents were going to disown me," said Phillippe; the actor was 23 at the time of its release. In addition to an incest plotline — Phillippe tries to seduce his stepsister, portrayed by Gellar — the film also featured a nude pool scene with Phillippe that many gay men have credited as a sexual awakening.

However, today, the 46-year-old actor would love to return to a role in the vein of Sebastian. "I've still never played a character like that since," he said. "I'm dabbling in comedies here and there, I'm doing a lot of comedy stuff. ... But I want to get back to playing a character like Sebastian in Cruel Intentions. It was just so fun to be so flippant and theatrical."

In Big Sky, a new ABC drama from David E. Kelley, Phillippe portrays Cody Hoyt, a private detective on the hunt for an abductor of women. The series is notable for featuring the first nonbinary series regular in a lead role on prime-time TV, Jesse James Keitel.

Watch the interview with Phillippe below.

Tags: television, film

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