MCM: Billy Zane


This post was inspired by a conversation with a reader (maybe on Facebook?) about loving Billy Zane in Titanic. He’s had a few roles that real standouts to me (Dead CalmOnly You — both modern-set — as well as frock flicks Titanic and Orlando). He’s got THOSE EYELASHES. Sadly these days he seems to be mostly doing low-budget productions, although I’m glad to see he’s working. So, with a lot of B-movie stuff, here’s beautiful Billy Zane in historical flicks:


Back to the Future (1985) & Part II (1989)

As “Match,” so called because he always chewed on a match; one of villain Biff’s gang in these time travel to the 1950s classics.

1989 Back to the Future Part II

Wide ties, high waistbands: check.


Memphis Belle (1990)

As an American? lieutenant in this World War II film.

1990 Memphis Belle

I’m not convinced by that mustache, but the smile is great.


Orlando (1992)

As Orlando’s love interest in the late 19th-century segment of the film.

They make a striking couple.

This shirt upsets me, however.

Nice collar!

1992 Orlando

Byronic hero?

Posse (1993)

Per IMDB: “In 1898 Cuba, five Buffalo Soldiers find a gold cache, desert and return to America where they help defend a black town from the KKK, all the while trying to avoid capture by lawmen and military authorities alike.” Zane plays a colonel, I’m guessing a baddie.

1993 Posse

It can’t be good that he’s offering tea.


Tombstone (1993)

As a traveling Shakespearean actor in the Western.

That has to be a wig.

1993 Tombstone

Not a good one.


The Phantom (1996)

As the title character in this 1950s?-set superhero film.

1996 The Phantom

HELLO SAILOR. Do you know about the V and wines? If not, read, but be prepared to spit any liquid in your mouth!

1996 The Phantom

Very sharp! I love a good popped collar.


This World, Then the Fireworks (1997)

Per IMDB: “In 1950s, two incestuous lovers, a depraved suave journalist and his equally depraved prostitute sister, plan to get rich through seduction and murder. Things complicate when their feeble-minded mother begins to suspect something.” Zane is one of the incestuous lovers.

1997 This World, Then the Fireworks

Not it!


Titanic (1997)

As Rose’s rich, mean fiance Cal Hockley — one of the villains in the film.

Titanic (1997)


1997 Titanic

God that charming smile!

See what I mean about THOSE EYELASHES??!!

1997 Titanic

You can have Leo, I’ll take Billy!

1997 Titanic

I love how their stripes coordinate here.

1997 Titanic


1997 Titanic

There’s that hard Edwardian collar!


Cleopatra (1999)

As Marc Antony, Roman general and partner to the Egyptian pharaoh.

1999 Cleopatra

Someday I will watch this. You have been warned.

1999 Cleopatra

Maybe next Snark Week?

1999 Cleopatra

He IS pretty tho.

1999 Cleopatra

But this just doesn’t look good.


The Diamond of Jeru (2001)

A TV movie in which Americans search for diamonds in Borneo.

2001 The Diamond of Jeru

Sharp dressed man alert!


Vlad (2003)

Per IMDB, “Death and spiritual torment stalk three American students visiting the Carpathian mountain homeland of Vlad Tepes.”

2003 Vlad

Rocking the Lenin look?


BloodRayne (2005)

Allegedly set in the 18th century, a vampire seeks revenge.

2005 BloodRayne



The Last Drop (2006)

The search for Nazi gold in World War II Holland.

2006 The Last Drop

Best pic I could find!


The Man Who Came Back (2008)

Former slaves go on strike at a plantation. Zane plays “Ezra.”

2008 The Man Who Came Back

He wears that mustache and sideburns well…. not many can pull that look off without looking ultra cheesy.


The Hessen Conspiracy (2009)

In 1945, American officers try to fence German jewels.

2009 The Hessen Conspiracy

I do love a man in uniform!

2009 The Hessen Conspiracy

Even if I know nothing about uniforms.


Barabbas (2012)

A TV movie about a man (Zane) who’s life is spared because of the crucifixion of Jesus.

2012 Barabbas

Making bad life choices.

2012 Barabbas

Oh dear.


Hannah’s Law (2012)

A Western about a female bounty hunter seeking revenge. I’m guessing Zane plays a baddie?

2012 Hannah's Law

Back in business!


The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption (2012)

The third in a series of fantasy/horror films that are spun off from The Mummy.

2012 The Scorpion King 3- Battle for Redemption

I’m a completionist, what!


DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (2017)

A TV series about time-traveling superheroes; Zane guests in one episode as circus owner P.T. Barnum.

2017 DC's Legends of Tomorrow



Holmes & Watson (2018)

Zane makes a cameo as himself when the main characters board the Titanic.

2018 Holmes & Watson



Samson (2018)

A film about the Old Testament Samson, with Zane as Philistine King Balek.

2018 Samson

Oh no.

2018 Samson

Somebody make it stop!


Cliffs of Freedom (2019)

A Greek village girl and a Turkish Ottoman Colonel fall in love during the Greek War for Independence (1821-29); Zane plays “Christos.”

2019 Cliffs of Freedom

This is the kind of film I would watch if it was free … and probably regret my life choices.


The Great War (2019)

World War I movie.

2019 The Great War



Ghosts of War (2020)

A supernatural horror film set in France during World War II. Zane plays “Dr. Engel.”

2020 Ghosts of War

Looks … interesting?



Which is your favorite of Billy Zane’s historical roles?

21 Responses

  1. Constance

    Yuk so many war movies…none of these interest me…no wonder I only know his name.

  2. Boxermom

    Don’t bother watching “Cleopatra”. It was supposedly based on The Memoirs of Cleopatra, which I recommend. But once again, the movie makers turned her into just another brainless sexpot. I get enraged just thinking about it. (Being an Egyptomaniac, I clearly have issues).

    • Roxana

      Cleopatra VII was a brilliant politician who pursued her own interests and Egypt’s. Her appeal, and she apparently had plenty, lay in her well educated intelligence and her wealth and power. She may have had feelings for Caesar and Mark Anthony but the political advantage of her liaisons, for both parties, are obvious.

      • Boxermom

        Thank You! Real Life Cleopatra was so much more fascinating than Hollywood’s version.

  3. Roxana

    You are absolutely right, Cleopatra’s costume looks BAD. The shape isn’t hopeless but the fabric is obviously modern, lame? And the dangle earrings are Too Much. In fact it is questionable whether Cleopatra VII ever worn egyptian costume in RL as opposed to conventialized reliefs on temples. Culturally she was very Greek though she reached out to the native population more than any of her predecessors.

  4. Kaye Dacus

    Memphis Belle is my favorite BZ movie — and the first time I noticed him. He looks SO good in that WWII era US Army uniform!!! (across multiple movies, apparently)

  5. Jenny

    Oh my goodness, teenage me had a crush on Billy Zane in Memphis Belle, he was so beautiful. He never seems to play sympathetic characters, it seems, must be that saturnine look. I’m with you – Rose was crazy: Cal was a million times hotter than Jack.

    • Roxans

      I agree with you. I have a weakness for dark and sultry men and never was attracted to de Caprio.

  6. Sharon in Scotland

    Gosh, he doesn’t half look like Marlon Brando when he’s bald and not necessarily in a good way

  7. Julia

    He leaves me cold, and I thought casting him in “Orlando” was an attempt to make the film more appealing to American audiences.

  8. Allison

    He looks really good with a beard. I’ll always be niffed that they cut the scene in Titanic when he was looking for Rose after they were rescued. It gave his character a little more depth and sympathy.

  9. Lily Lotus Rose

    Ok, before commenting on his Frock Flicks, I gotta say that I squealed when Kendra mentioned Only You in the intro to this post. That is one of my favorite “modern” romance movies, and I feel it is criminally underrated and unknown. Billy Zane’s role was so much fun!! OK, back to Billy Zane’s Frock Flicks…I’m one of twenty people who saw The Phantom when it came out and one of ten who really enjoyed it (along with the other “old-fashioned” movies of the time The Rocketeer and The Shadow). I’m tempted to say that one’s my favorite–but Titanic and Tombstone are just so much better movies overall. So…it’s hard to pick a favorite for this MCM. He’s still swoon-worthy and there’s so much here to see. Timothy Dalton as Caesar (I presume) looks like reason enough to watch Cleopatra. (Is just me, or is anyone else getting Alicia Keys vibes from the actress who plays Cleopatra? I know she isn’t Alicia Keys.) And the costumes for Samson look hilarious–like something for a school or church play!! Thanks for this MCM!

    • Lily Lotus Rose

      Oh, and The Phantom is set in the late 30s not the 50s. Probably prompted by your Titanic post, a while ago I watched an analysis on YouTube called “The Phantom Retrospective” by Midnight’s Edge in which the setting was revealed to be 1938. It’s definitely not a movie for everyone–one reason why it was an abysmal box office failure. Poor Billy!

      • Lily Lotus Rose

        Also, thank you for linking to “the V and wines” article! I say “amen” and “hallelujah” to the whole thing! Ok, I’m going to stop replying to this MCM post!

    • GinaP

      I love “Only You” also. So glad to find another fan. I get lots of flack about it.

  10. Adina

    A sort of explanation for Bloodrayne: (emphasis on explanation, not excuse) it’s based on a sort of mid-range early 2000s third person shooter game. It was also directed by Uwe Boll, who is infamous for making shitty movie adaptations of video games.

  11. Jenno

    I named one of my cats after his character in Orlando: Shelmerdine. That’s how much I loved him back in the 90s. And when did I fall in love with him? Three words. John. Justice. Wheeler.