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Zane, Billy PDF Print E-mail
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Born: February 24, 1966

Zane was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Thalia and William George Zane, Sr., both of whom were amateur actors and founders of a school for medical technicians. Both of his parents are of Greek descent, and his family's original surname, "Zanetakos", was anglicized to "Zane" by his parents. He has an older sister, Lisa Zane, who is an actress.

After completing a year abroad at the American School in Switzerland, Zane graduated from the progressive Francis W. Parker School and attended Harand Camp of the Theater Arts, located in Wisconsin.

1980s

Zane's first two screen roles were in the science fiction fllms; Back to the Future in 1985 and Critters in 1986. Zane later reprised his henchman role in the 1989 sequel, Back to the Future II. Earlier that same year, Zane gained international recognition with the role of villain Hughie Warriner in the thriller Dead Calm, alongside Nicole Kidman and Sam Neill. He also starred in the NBC film, The Case of the Hillside Stranglers (1989).

1990s

Zane's first starring role was in a 1990 independent film, the low budget science fiction thriller Megaville. In 1990, he also co-starred in the film Memphis Belle, a film version of a 1944 documentary about a World War II bomber plane, as the bombardier. Zane also forayed into television work, and in 1991 he appeared as John Justice Wheeler in several episodes of David Lynch's hit TV-show Twin Peaks. In 1993, he played the Shakespearean actor "Mr. Fabian" in Tombstone, and took a starring role in Sniper. He also starred in a couple of Tales From The Crypt productions, including Tales From the Crypt Presents: Demon Knight, where he plays a henchman of Satan called The Collector, and the episode "Well-Cooked Hams," where he plays a poorly skilled magician who kills to steal good tricks from other magicians.

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

Although The Phantom was not a box office success, Zane achieved success shortly after by playing the millionaire misanthrope Caledon Hockley in James Cameron's 1997 blockbuster Titanic, which to this date remains his best known characterization. This role as Kate Winslet's fiancé earned him an MTV Movie Award nomination for "Best Villain" and a Blockbuster Entertainment Award. He was also nominated for a SAG award.

In 1998, Zane starred in and produced I Woke Up Early The Day I Died, a silent film based on Ed Wood's last script, intended as a parody on bad filmmaking. He won several awards at the B-Movie Film Festival, including Best Movie and Best Actor, for this work. The year after, he starred opposite Timothy Dalton, Bruce Payne, Sean Pertwee and Leonor Varela (who became his fiance after shooting ended) in a TV-movie about Cleopatra. Zane played the part of Mark Antony.

He appeared in Marilyn Manson's music video for his single "The Dope Show".

2000s

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, and starred opposite Ryan Gosling. The same year, he also had a cameo as himself in the popular comedy Zoolander.

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 voiced John Rolfe in Pocahontas 2, and Etrigan The Demon in an episode of The New Batman Adventures. Zane also had a recurring role in the television series Charmed in which he played poetry loving ex-demon Drake. Another rather notable role was that of voicing the villainous Xehanort's Heartless, "Ansem" in the Square Enix-Disney video game Kingdom Hearts. Archive sound of his recordings were later used for the sequel, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, but he would be replaced by Richard Epcar in all subsequent releases in the series.

Zane appeared in the 2006 Turkish film, Valley of the Wolves Iraq, (Kurtlar Vadisi: Irak in Turkish), part of the Kurtlar Vadisi franchise. The film tells the story of the U.S. Army run amok in Iraq, eventually brought into check by a brave Turkish hero. Zane plays Sam William Marshall, a cruel U.S. soldier who is the main antagonist in the film. The movie is the most expensive Turkish film ever made and obtained one of the highest box office returns in the history of the Turkish cinema. Zane's participation in the film, which some consider to be an anti-American propaganda film, and whose representation of allegedly fictional American atrocities many Turks believe to be true, has drawn criticism.

Zane made his directing debut with Big Kiss, a light-hearted romantic comedy about two journalists, who follow Billy Zane's advice, involved in a diamond caper in which he also starred. Although released in Sweden in 2004, the date of a wider distribution remains uncertain. In January 2006, he made his debut on the London stage in Arthur Allan Seidelman's production of Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks by Richard Alfieri, a two-hander in which he co-starred with Claire Bloom.

Zane has lined up several projects, including horror-comedy The Mad, ; 4Chosen (together with Laurence Fishburne); Alien Agent; Don Juan; and his second directorial effort, Uptown, about a man who starts a theater company for the mentally ill. Memory, a psychological thriller where Zane stars opposite Ann-Margret and Dennis Hopper, which was released in 2007. Zane is also set to star in a biopic on singer Mario Lanza, and opposite his fiancee Kelly Brook in family-comedy Fishtales. In 2007, he signed on to star in World War II drama The Hessen Affair, to be directed by Paul Breuls.

He took over Timothy Olyphant's role as Christina Applegate's ex-boyfriend on Samantha Who?; Olyphant had to depart because of scheduling conflicts with his role in Damages. The show, however, was not renewed for the 2009-2010 season.

He also has several upcoming films currently in post-production, including Blue Seduction and Magic Man.

It has been reported that Bollywood actress Bipasha Basu is to star in her first Hollywood film and that Zane will be her leading man.

It has been also reported that Billy Zane is attached to an unknown Christopher Nolan project which is rumored to be the Superman reboot and is offered to play Lex Luthor.

Personal life

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, in which he played Marc Antony. In 2001, he met Emma Howard on the set of The Diamond of Jeru. Theydated for three years. Zane was engaged to marry British model turned actress Kelly Brook, whom he met when starring with her in the movie Survival Island, also known as Three.[16] They split in April 2008, got back together again shortly thereafter, then ended the relationship in August 2008. He has been dating Croatian model Jasmina Hdagha since July 2009.[17]

Zane's leisure interests include riding, painting, swimming, photography, frisbees, taking nature walks, cycling, and collecting cars. He has named Sean Connery, Gene Kelly, Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin as his movie heroes.

In 1999, Zane participated in the first Gumball 3000 rally, driving a 1964 Aston Martin DB5. He was featured in the music video of Staind's "Epiphany". Zane executive-produced a CD by bluesman Tim O'Connor that includes three songs from Dead Calm, in which Zane had one of the lead roles.

On March 23, 2010, the IRS filed a $116,578 lien against Zane with the Los Angeles County Recorder of Deeds. He has not publicly commented on his tax situation.

In November 2010, he was awarded an honorary degree honoris causa from Lium University Bellinzona, Switzerland, for his contribution to cinematography. He is the chairman of the Francesco Fucilla Film production company 21st Century Filmworks.

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