Born in Hickory, NC, Settle grew up in a religious household headed by his father, Dr. Robert Settle, a Baptist minister, and his mother, Joan, a church organist. In 1983, the Settle family moved to Sevierville, TN, where the 14-year-old started his first job selling gospel records at the Dollywood gift shop. The experience had a profound effect on him, leading him to start his own rock band. After graduating from high school, Settle decided to pursue his musical ambitions in New York. But he was fired from his band soon after he arrived, with Settle later citing ambiguous creative differences as the reason for the split. He set his sights instead on an acting career, borrowing money from friends to take classes while he worked as a meat salesman to pay the rent. Settle was eventually discovered by lawyer-to-the-stars, Jay Julien, who awarded him with a three-year scholarship to study with renowned acting teacher William Esper at the famed Acting Studio in New York City.After he finishing acting school, Settle moved to Los Angeles to pursue his new career. He spent his first five years in Hollywood taking on small roles in television movies like "Shaughnessy" (CBS, 1996) and "What Happened to Bobby Earl?" (CBS, 1997), while making the jump to features with teen flicks like "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer" (1998) and "The In Crowd" (2000). Following a turn as a young Bugsy Siegel in "Lansky" (HBO, 1999), he landed his first major break in 2001, playing the role of Capt. Ronald Spiers in the award-winning miniseries, "Band of Brothers" (HBO, 2001). Settle's career took off from there, with the next several years being dotted by high-profile roles, including a five-episode arc as an abusive husband on "ER" (NBC, 1994-2009) and a featured role as Ashley Judd's love interest in "Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood" (2002). In between acting gigs, Settle learned a wide array of new skills, including fencing, sailing and tap-dancing. He also performed in live theater whenever possible, appearing in everything from "Romeo and Juliet" to Neil Simon's "Barefoot in the Park."Back on the small screen, Settle continued to make strides in his career, landing episodes of "The Practice" (ABC, 1997-2004) and "CSI: Miami" (CBS, 2002-12). He next delivered a critically lauded portrayal of film legend Warren Beatty in "The Mystery of Natalie Wood" (ABC, 2004), Peter Bogdanovich's biopic about the revered, but ultimately doomed actress (Justine Waddell). Following a turn in producer Steven Spielberg's sprawling epic Western, "Into the West" (TNT, 2005), he starred in "The Celestine Prophecy" (2006), a religious supernatural drama based on James Redfield's best-selling novel of the same name. Settle played John Woodson, a high school history teacher who embarks on a spiritual journey, as he tracks down an ancient Peruvian manuscript that contains a prophecy promising a new beginning for humanity. Despite the built-in audience, "The Celestine Prophecy" came and went with little fanfare.In 2006, the gossip-free Settle became the subject of a minor-controversy when he eloped with Israeli actress Naama Nativ. In interviews, he admitted to worrying about his strict Baptist parents disapproving of the marriage. The next year, Settle started work on his highest profile job to date, playing Rufus Humphrey, father to main characters Dan (Penn Badgely) and Jenny (Taylor Momsen) in the hit series "Gossip Girl" (CW, 2007-13). The racy drama followed a group of wealthy teens growing up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. While the show initially suffered from poor ratings, "Gossip Girl" developed a voracious cult fan base over its first two seasons, with its young actors becoming a constant presence in tabloids. Even Settle enjoyed becoming an overnight sex symbol, which marked a new phase in his career. Meanwhile, he continued to appear in films, starring in the horror flick "Beneath" (2007), while playing President John F. Kennedy in the true-life sports drama, "The Express" (2008). In 2009, as "Gossip Girl" continued to win new fans, Settle signed on to appear for the show's third season.