Billy Zane's big heart


Staff member

Take into consideration the characters he's played over the years and actor Billy Zane is the last person you'd expect at a fundraiser for kids.

Best known for his starring role in the film adaptation of the once popular comic strip The Phantom and as Kate Winslet's vile fiancé, Cal Hockley, in blockbuster hit Titanic, Zane showed tabloid! his softer side.

Zane was VIP guest at the inaugural gala dinner for Small World Abu Dhabi — a charity launched in November to support children in need from around the world.

He told tabloid! why being a new father had inspired him to get involved in the UAE initiative which will be held every year.

Why are you supporting the work of Small World in Abu Dhabi?

As a new father, I believe now more than ever that the world's children are our most precious natural resource. We must protect, enable, guide and learn from them. Small World has taken a dynamic, forward-thinking step to enable their development, by organising this first of many events and initiatives to raise awareness and resources to ensure the neediest children of the world get a chance to thrive. It is with great honour I support and endorse Small World's intentions globally.

Do you have any strong connections with the UAE? Is it somewhere you have been before or is this your first time?

I have had the distinct pleasure of visiting Dubai a few years ago and stay in regular contact with Rashid Al Habtoor, and follow the remarkable achievements of the national polo team closely, thanks to his office's frequent updates.

When you look back on your career, tell us three of your most prominent memories.

Opening on Broadway as Billy Flynn in the musical Chicago, the royal premiere of Titanic in London, and speaking at the UN.

How would you describe life as an actor?

One word — charmed. For as long as I remember it is and has always been a means to an end, a calling card from which to leverage grander and philanthropic agendas.

The charity is about cross-cultural borders being bridged. How is this possible through film/cinema/celebrity?

As media is the biggest cultural connector, it is logical that movies are the perfect catalysts for change. It will be thrilling to co-create content that serves the message and revenue stream of Small World. Under Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan's patronage, they have crafted a stellar platform from which to change the lives of millions of children. Using cinema, music and other media, the message, as content, can inform and even produce revenue streams that can continuously feed the charity's enabling fund beyond traditional fundraising measures.

Small World is creating the long needed, healthy dialogue between cultures through an irrefutable international language. I am thrilled to participate.

What are you working on now?

I am launching an international, multi-platform called Good News Network. I am also preparing to direct a film in Greece that I co-wrote, about the transformation of a nephew by his uncle through a form of initiation as intervention using philosophy, theology, perfected math, mythology and a good game of Frisbee.

Film or a game of Frisbee, which would win on a Sunday afternoon?

My philosophy, as evidenced above, is why choose?

Did you know?

Billy Zane attended Parker School in Chicago and Harand Camp of the Theatre Arts in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, with Entourage actor Jeremy Piven.

Zane was engaged to British glamour model and actress Kelly Brook and Leonor Varela. Both were called off.

Zane was originally cast as Johnny Castle in Dirty Dancing but during auditions, choreographer Emile Ardolino realised Zane could not dance, so the part went to Patrick Swayze.

The actor is an avid swimmer and started shaving his head in 1997 for aerodynamics.