Ryan Phillippe Talks Fondly About His Groundbreaking Gay ‘One Life To Live’ Role

25 years ago, Ryan Phillippe landed his first professional acting gig. He only played Billy Douglas for 13 episodes on One Life To Live, but Phillippe and his character made history. The groundbreaking character marked the first openly gay teenager featured in a television series, long before Will & Grace aired and Ellen came out.

While promoting his new supernatural horror Wish Upon, the 42-year-old actor spoke fondly about the part and remembers correspondence he received from viewers. “I remember the fan mail that we would get, my mother and I would get, from gay teenagers or from parents of gay teenagers who found a way in to relate to or talk to their child through the show,” Ryan recalled to TooFab.

Entertainment media can do those things, it can make people think differently or see a different side of something and I do remember and appreciating that — even back then when I was only a teenager myself,” Phillippe continued. “But in terms of like the larger view, I didn’t have a full understanding of how important it could have been,” he added, “but I’m proud to have done it, I’m proud that that’s something I can say was a part of my career.”

Watch Phillippe below talk proudly about his contribution to LGBT television history.

  • macguffin54

    Wish Upon. Wish Upon. Wish Upon. Keep saying it and the next time you might get it right.

  • Travis

    I’m showing my age here, but I can say for certain that Ryan Phillippe played Billy Douglas for way more than 13 episodes. I watched One Life to Live faithfully the entire time he was on the show, and for many years after. IMDB most certainly has the amount of episodes wrong. It was a major story-line for well over a year.

  • Phyllis White

    That storyline and its aftermath on the show turned my raving homophobe stepfather into a completely different person. He went from yelling that all blankety-blank queers should be lined up and shot to welcoming our gay friends into his home, and even attending the commitment ceremony of my mother’s best friend’s daughter.