William George Zane, Jr. (born February 24, 1966), better known as Billy Zane, is an American actor and producer. He is perhaps best recognized for his role as Caledon Hockley in the 1997 blockbuster film Titanic and as the Phantom in the eponymous 1996 film based upon the comic book superhero. As of 2006, Zane has appeared in over 50 films and numerous TV-series.

Early life[edit | edit source]

Zane was born in Chicago, Illinois to William George, Sr. and Thalia Zanetakos, who ran a medical technical school. Both of his parents are of Greek descent. [1] He has an older sister, Lisa Zane, who is also an actress. After completing a year abroad at TASIS (The American School in Switzerland), Zane graduated from the prestigious Francis W. Parker Day School (Daryl Hannah and Jennifer Beals are other famous alumni).

Career[edit | edit source]

Zane's first screen role was in Back to the Future (1985) playing Biff Tannen's friend Match. He landed the role as a fluke by appearing nonchalant, dressed in a T-shirt. Zane later reprised the role for the 1989 sequel, Back to the Future part II. He gained prominence starring in the thriller Dead Calm opposite Nicole Kidman. In 1991 he appeared as John Justice Wheeler in several episodes of David Lynch's hit TV-show Twin Peaks, and in 1993, he played the Shakespearian actor "Mr. Fabian" in Tombstone.

In 1996, Zane played the eponymous classic comic book hero in the big budget action film The Phantom (based on his favorite comic). Zane pumped iron for over a year and a half to fill the Phantom's tight spandex costume properly, and studied samples of the comic carefully in his attempt to copy the character's body language.

Zane is best known for playing Caledon Hockley in the 1997 movie blockbuster Titanic. He went on to be nominated to a MTV Movie Award for "Best Villain" in Titanic. For the same role, he also won a Blockbuster Entertainment Award, and was nominated for a SAG-award.

Premature hair loss has not diminished Zane's acting career. In some of his most famous films, like Titanic and The Phantom, he wore a wig, and frequently does so when the role requires it.

Zane was instrumental in getting the critically acclaimed film The Believer made, which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 2001. In it, he portrayed neo-nazi Curtis Zampf. The same year, he also had a cameo as himself in Zoolander, which gave birth to the popular quote "Listen to your pal Billy Zane... he's a cool dude!"

Zane keeps busy in other parts of the entertainment industry as well. He is a singer and can occasionally be seen in various Broadway shows, like "Chicago", where he played lawyer Billy Flynn.

He also voiced John Rolfe in Pocahontas 2, and Ansem in Squaresoft and Disney's renowned video game Kingdom Hearts, and voiced Etrigan "The Demon" in an episode of Batman: The Animated Series. Zane also had a recurring role in the popular television series Charmed in which he played poetry loving ex-demon Drake. He was voted as the favorite guest character by the show's fans, beating others, like Julian McMahon.

Zane's debut as a director was Big Kiss, a light-hearted romantic comedy about two journalists involved in a diamond caper in which he also starred. Although released in Sweden in 2004, the date of a wider distribution remains uncertain.

As of 2006, Zane is rumored to be a candidate for the role of Marlon Brando in a biopic about the legendary actor written by newcomer Johnny Bas. He is also rumoured to star in a dark comedy produced by Bob Yari, the man behind the Academy Award-winning Crash.

Zane also has a few other projects lined up for him, including horror film The Mad, in which a doctor and his daughter are attacked by zombies at a truck stop. He is also lining up several other new acting roles, including 4Chosen (together with Laurence Fishburne), Alien Agent, and Don Juan. He is also working on his next directorial effort, Uptown, about a man who starts a theater company for the mentally ill. 2006 also marks the year for the release of "Memory", a psychological thriller where Zane stars opposite Ann-Margret and Dennis Hopper.

Personal life[edit | edit source]

Zane married actress Lisa Collins in 1989. The couple divorced in 1995. He was also engaged for a time to Chilean actress Leonor Varela, his costar in the 1999 television movie Cleopatra, where he played Marcus Antonius. As of 2006, Zane is engaged to marry British model turned actress Kelly Brook whom he met on the set of "Survival Island".

His leisure interests include horseback riding, painting, swimming, photography, frisbees, taking nature walks, riding a bicycle, and collecting cars.[citation needed] He has described his movie heroes to be Sean Connery, Gene Kelly, Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin.[citation needed]

In 1999, Zane participated in the first Gumball 3000 rally, driving a 1964 Aston Martin DB5. He was featured in the music video, Epiphany, by Staind.

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • In 1998, Zane starred in and produced I Woke Up Early The Day I Died, a silent film of Ed Wood's last script. He won the B-Movie Award for this work.
  • Zane has stated that one of the most physically challenging and fun roles he has played so far was The Phantom, and that it was his dream to play that character.[citation needed]
  • Zane executive-produced a CD made by bluesman Tim O'Connor. The album includes three songs from Dead Calm, where *Zane had one of the lead roles.
  • Zane attended Parker School in Chicago and Harand Camp of the Theater Arts, located in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
  • Zane is friends with singer Marilyn Manson and appered in his Dope Show video.

Filmography (actor)[edit | edit source]

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