William George Zane, better known as Billy Zane, was born on February 24, 1966 in Chicago, Illinois, to Thalia (Colovos) and William Zane, both of Greek ancestry. His parents were amateur actors and managed a medical technical school. Billy has an older sister, actress and singer Lisa Zane. Billy was bitten by the acting bug early on. In his early teens, he attended Harand Camp of the Theater Arts in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. In 1982, he attended the American School in Switzerland. His high school days were spent at Francis Parker High School in Chicago, Illinois. Daryl Hannah and Jennifer Beals also attended Parker, prior to Billy’s attendance.
Soon after graduating from high school, Billy decided to venture out to California to attempt acting for the first time. Within three weeks, he won his very first big screen role in Back to the Future (1985), playing the role of Match, one of Biff Tannen’s thugs. He would later reprise that role for the sequel Back to the Future Part II (1989). Then after a small role in the science fiction horror film Critters (1986), he landed starring roles in several television films. Billy played villain Hughie Warriner in the Australian thriller filmDead Calm (1989), where he met his future wife, Lisa Collins.
He also co-starred in Memphis Belle (1990), a film version of a 1944 documentary about a World War II bomber. In 1991, he appeared as John Justice Wheeler on several episodes of David Lynch‘s television series Twin Peaks (1990). Billy starred as the eponymous superhero in The Phantom (1996) and as Caledon Hockley in the billion dollar grossingTitanic (1997). Then, he starred in the television movie Cleopatra (1999) where he met his soon-to-be fiance, actress Leonor Varela from whom he subsequently separated. In 2005, he had a recurring role as the poetry loving ex-demon Drake on the television series Charmed (1998).