Titanic's Vile Fiancé
"My parents exposed me to so much of the arts, but I think it was ultimately watching Gene Kelly and Vincente Minnelli's collaborations that really turned me on to the arts, to acting, as a kid." Billy Zane
American actor Billy Zane gained worldwide fame through his portrayal of Kate Winslet's wicked fiancé, Cal Hockley, in James Cameron's billion dollar grossing Titanic (1997). Delivering a fine performance, he nabbed a Blockbuster Entertainment Award. In 2000, Zane took home the B-Movie Film Festival Award for his fine acting in the comedy I Woke Up Early the Day I Died (1998).
Off screen, Billy Zane was once a member of the fraternity of Phi Gamma Delta. As for his private life, 6' 2" inch tall Zane married actress Lisa Collins, but the couple divorced in 1995. While on the set of the television film Cleopatra, Zane met and fell for Chilean actress Leonor Varela and they were briefly engaged in 2001. Zane is currently rumored to have called off the wedding with his fiancé, British model Kelly Brook, after the media caught Brook without her precious engagement ring. However, Brook strongly denied the rumors.
Childhood and Family:
Of Greek-American ancestry, William George Zane Jr., better known as Billy Zane, was born on February 24, 1966, in Chicago, Illinois, to parents William George Zane Sr. and Thalia Zane. His parents managed a medical technical school. Billy has an older sister named Liza Zane, who is an actress and was born on April 5, 1961.
Billy discovered his interest in acting early on. As a youngster, he attended the Harand Camp of the Theater Arts in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. He shared the same high school with Daryl Hannah and Jennifer Beals, attending the Francis Parker High School in Chicago, Illinois. In his sophomore year of high school, Billy enrolled at the American School in Switzerland to study writing and acting. Upon graduation, he flew to Los Angeles to give acting a try.
Off screen, Billy is a passionate swimmer and an avid car collector.
His favorites cars are mustangs, specially the 1964 convertibles.
Brown-eyed, good-looking Billy met Australian actress Lisa Collins (born in 1968) while filming Dead Calm. There were married in 1988, but divorced seven years later.
After studying acting and completing high school, Billy Zane headed for Hollywood to try his hand in acting. He quickly landed the small part of Match, a friend of Thomas F. Wilson's character Biff Tannen, in the adventure film Back to the Future (1985, starring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd). Zane received his first television role as Les in the made-for-TV movie Brotherhood of Justice (1986) and continued to take on secondary roles in such films as Critters (1986), Conspiracy: The Trial of the Chicago 8 (1987,TV), Police Story: Monster Manor (1988,TV), Going Overboard (1989), and The Case of the Hillside Stranglers (1989,TV).
Zane's first brush with fame arrived when he costarred opposite Nicole Kidman and Sam Neill in director Phillip Noyce's horror film Dead Calm (1989). Portraying villain Hughie Warriner, Zane's film career began to take flight.
After reprising the role of Match for Back to the Future Part II (1989), Zane won his first leading role in a feature film, playing Palinov/Jensen in the sci-fi thriller Megaville (1990, opposite J.C Quinn). In the following years, he was seen acting in movies such as Memphis Belle (1990), Miliardi (1991), Femme Fatale (1991), Blood and Concrete (1991), Orlando (1992), Flashfire (1993), Betrayal of the Dove (1993), Sniper (1993), Posse (1993), Poetic Justice (1993), Tombstone (1993), Reflections on a Crime (1994), The Silence of the Hams (1994), Only You (1994), The Set Up (1995) and Demon Knight (1995). He also worked on two television films: Lake Consequence (1993) and Running Delilah (1994).
Playing the title character of The Phantom/Kit Walker in the popular comic strip The Phantom (1996), Zane showed off his lithe, sturdy physique in a form-fitting purple body suit and did many of the film's daring stunts himself. The action movie also starred Kristy Swanson, Treat Williams and Catherine Zeta-Jones. He next appeared in the comedy Head Above Water (1996, starring Cameron Diaz), starred as Rick Morgan in the Danger Zone (1997) and costarred with Gina Gershon in This World, Then the Fireworks (1997), where he also served as an executive producer.
In 1997, Zane delivered big breakthrough performance when he was cast as Kate Winslet's evil fiancé, Cal Hockley, in the mega blockbuster film Titanic (1997), directed by James Cameron. The enormous success of the film brought him worldwide fame, as well as the 1998 Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Supporting Actor - Drama.
The subsequent year, Zane produced and starred in the comedy I Woke Up Early the Day I Died (1998), alongside Tippi Hedren and Ron Perlman. In 2000, he was awarded the B-Movie Film Festival award for Best Actor. After the film, Zane played Sam Myers in Susan's Plan (1998), portrayed Sam in Morgan's Ferry (1999) and was George Putter in Taxman (1999). On the small screen, he won the lead role of Marc Antony in ABC's Cleopatra (1999, opposite ex-fiancé Leonor Varela).
Entering the new millennium, Zane went on to play roles in television by starring as Joe Carpenter in the Fox miniseries "Sole Survivor" (2000, opposite Gloria Reuben) and Michael Jeffrey in the made-for-television film Hendrix (2000). He portrayed the neo-Nazi leader Curtis Zampf in the controversial independent film, The Believer (2001), which was screened at the Sundance Film Festival.
After CQ (2001), he starred in the adventure The Diamond of Jeru (2001, TV) and the thriller Invincible (2001, TV).
The actor next played Michael Sanger in Landspeed (2002), Roberto Bealing in Claim (2002), produced and starred in Starving Hysterical Naked (2003), and was cast as Nero in the drama Imaginary Grace (2003). He next portrayed Adrian for director Michael D. Sellers' thriller Vlad (2003), found himself acting with Terence Stamp, Francoise Surel and Eliza Dushke in The Kiss (2003), portrayed Jack in the thriller film Three (2004), had a supporting role in Dead Fish (2004), directed and starred in Big Kiss (2004), was featured as Chandler Tyson in Silver City (2004) and costarred as Joseph in Bet Your Life (2004,TV).
Zane recently starred as Oates in the war film The Last Drop (2005).
He also has three films in production, including the dramatic /thriller The Pleasure Drivers (2005, starring Lauren Holly and Angus Macfadyen), the horror movie Mem-o-re (2005, plays the role of Taylor Briggs) and director Owe Boll's horror/fantasy Bloodrayne (2005, starring Kristanna Loken and Michael Madsen).