Billy Crudup

Billy Crudup

Born in Manhasset, NY, Crudup grew up the maternal grandson of Billy Gaither, a famous trial lawyer from Florida. His parents had a rollercoaster ride of a marriage, divorcing and remarrying only to divorce again. Crudup moved from New York with his family, first settling in Texas where he attended Hillcrest High School in Dallas, then to Fort Lauderdale, FL, where he graduated from St. Thomas Aquinas in 1986. Intending to major in business, Crudup attended the University of North Carolina, but discovered acting in his senior year when he performed in a production of Bertolt Brecht's "The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui." Once he graduated UNC, he established himself as a rising star at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, where he earned a master of fine arts in acting. In 1994, while still a student at NYU, Crudup filmed his first feature role in "Grind" (1997). As a recently released convict who begins an affair with his sister-in-law, the young actor delivered what many felt was a star-making performance although few actually saw the picture in movie theaters. Even before earning his degree, Crudup's professional career had started.Crudup made an auspicious Broadway debut playing the Byronic tutor of a 13-year-old mathematics genius in Tom Stoppard's "Arcadia" (1995), for which he won several awards, including the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Debut. After completing a small role in Woody Allen's musical "Everyone Says I Love You" (1996), which also marked his onscreen singing debut, Crudup played a drug-dealing killer in Barry Levinson's "Sleepers" (1996). He co-starred alongside Mary-Louise Parker - whom he dated from 1996 until 2003, when they split while she was seven months pregnant with their son - in a Broadway rival of William Inge's "Bus Stop" (1996), Crudup followed by playing the calculating, womanizing brother of a shy working-class young man (Joaquin Phoenix) in love with a wealthy girl (Liv Tyler) in Pat O'Connor's "Inventing the Abbots" (1997). Crudup next took on the leading role of track superstar Steve Prefontaine in "Without Limits" (1998), a film that could have resulted in a star-making turn for the actor, but instead was hampered by slow pacing and little interest from the public. Added to the mixture was an equally ignored biopic on the tragically deceased runner that only served to dampen Crudup's otherwise compelling performance.When the intriguing, post-modern Western "The Hi-Lo Country" (1998) was released, hopes ran high for Crudup's bona fide breakthrough, but it was lost amidst end-of-the-year Oscar bait. Crudup once again offered a fine performance and demonstrated a unique capacity to make even the most passive of characters fascinating without gaining proper recognition. Building on that ability, he turned the junkie lead of "Jesus' Son" (1999) into a tour de force, crafting a complete character down to his specific walk and vocal inflections. As a Kennedy-esque politician experiencing a possible breakdown in the flawed, but absorbing "Waking the Dead" (2000), Crudup gave a relaxed portrayal of a romantic forced to re-evaluate his belief systems - a performance that was masterful in its complexity. Reunited with Jennifer Connelly from "Inventing the Abbotts," Crudup particularly excelled in their scenes together; the two complemented each other to the point where their scenes took on an air of intense reality.When writer-director Cameron Crowe was developing his then untitled autobiographical film about a teenage rock journalist, he created the pivotal role of the mysteriously attractive, charismatic guitarist with Brad Pitt in mind. When Pitt passed on the part, Crowe cast about for another actor with the appropriate qualities and found Crudup. "Almost Famous" (2000) allowed the ascendant performer another strong role and he made the most of it. Exhibiting equal parts charm and arrogance and projecting a smoldering but understated sexuality, Crudup took on a difficult role and humanized it. Finally, he had found the role that propelled him into the mainstream. He accomplished a similar feat with his next starring role, playing a man who abandons his family and sets off on a cross-country trip in the excellent "World Traveler" (2002), which screened at Toronto in 2001 before its theatrical release. Meanwhile, Crudup was well cast as a French Resistance leader in the WWII-era drama, "Charlotte Gray" (2001). Crudup eschewed the hype attached to working in the movie industry, saying "I'm not a star and I have no desire to be one," though he found himself on the cusp regardless. He returned to Broadway to star as "The Elephant Man" (2002) and was poised for success - whether he wanted it or not - when he got another major dose of exposure in director Tim Burton's fanciful "Big Fish" (2003), playing Will Bloom, a young man at odds with his father (Albert Finney) who is disillusioned by the elder Bloom's mythic tales of self-aggrandizement. Crudup followed by starring in "Stage Beauty" (2004), a low-budget adaptation of Jeffrey Hatcher's play about Edward 'Ned' Kynaston, a 17th century actor enjoying the fruits of success as England's most celebrated leading lady at a time when females were not allowed to perform onstage. But when King Charles II decides that women can be allowed to act, Kynaston suddenly becomes an overnight nobody. Crudup received good notices for his performance, though few were able to see it due to the film's limited release. It was during the 2003 filming that Crudup fell for co-star Claire Danes. Much to the chagrin of fans and the press, he began quietly seeing the actress after breaking things off with his then-pregnant girlfriend, Mary-Louise Parker. It would be his one brush with negative tabloid headlines.Crudup began to accept the potential of stardom when he played a man uninterested in marrying his long-time girlfriend (Maggie Gyllenhaal) in "Trust the Man" (2006), a romantic comedy that focused on two upwardly mobile Manhattan couples. In "Mission: Impossible 3" (2006), the third installment to the popular franchise directed by J.J. Abrams, he was the potentially untrustworthy superior to operative Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), who is forced back into the field. After a small role as a British intelligence officer in the slow-moving spy drama "The Good Shepherd" (2006), Crudup earned a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor, playing literary critic Vissarion Belinsky in "The Coast of Utopia" (2006). He then starred as an obsessive-compulsive children's books author who partners both professionally and romantically with a struggling illustrator (Mandy Moore) in "Dedication" (2007). Following a role in the Sundance-bound drama, "Pretty Bird" (2008), Crudup was Dr. Jon Osterman, who transforms into the blue-skinned super being, Doctor Manhattan, in the highly anticipated comic book adaptation "Watchmen" (2009). Following a turn in an off-Broadway production of Adam Rapp's "The Metal Children" (2010), he starred opposite Julia Roberts in the romantic comedy "Eat Pray Love" (2010). Crudup was perfectly cast as Timothy Geithner, former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, in the ballyhooed cable movie "Too Big to Fail" (HBO, 2011), which chronicled the people and events surrounding the 2008 financial meltdown that brought the global economy to its knees.