July 12, 2017 02:50 PM


For Ryan Phillippe, playing a dad in his new thriller Wish Upon didn’t take too much research.

In the film, he plays the father of 17-year-old Clare Shannon — and in real life, the actor has a 17-year old daughter of his own, Ava Elizabeth, with ex-wife Reese Witherspoon.

Joey King, who plays my daughter, is the same age as my daughter in real life,” Phillippe, 42, tells PEOPLE. “So she and I could connect very easily because I obviously understand teenage girls.”

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Phillippe also has two other kids — 13-year-old son Deacon Reese, also with Witherspoon, and 6-year-old daughter Kailani Merizalde with his ex, Alexis Knapp. Because of Phillippe’s experience as a dad of three, the actor had no problem getting into character.

“The real-life experience I have does allow for a lot more natural attachment to the role,” says the Cruel Intentions star.

Wish Upon tells the story of a father who gifts his daughter with a mysterious music box that makes her wishes come true. But, like with most magical wish-givers, there’s a catch — and soon the girl realizes everything has a cost.


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Phillippe, who is also staring in the USA Network’s drama Shooter, says on a rare day of downtime, he really enjoys just spending time with his kids.

“Usually, a great day off involves doing something fun with my son. I think we are going to go off-roading this weekend. That is something we are getting into,” he says. “Whatever takes me out of the job and gives me some relief.”

Wish Upon hits theaters nationwide Friday, July 14.

For more on Ryan Phillippe, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

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