Billy Crudup Biography
William Gaither "Billy" Crudup is an American Tony Award-winning actor of film and stage. He is well known for his roles as guitarist Russell Hammond in Almost Famous, Will Bloom in Big Fish, and Ashitaka in Princess Mononoke. He appeared as Doctor Manhattan in the 2009 film Watchmen.
Crudup was born in Manhasset, New York, the grandson of Billy Gaither, a well-known Florida trial lawyer. His parents divorced during his childhood, and later remarried, before divorcing a second time. Crudup has two brothers: Tommy, an executive producer, and Brooks, also a producer. He left New York with his family when he was about eight years old, first living in Texas, then in Florida. He graduated from Saint Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 1986.
Crudup attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he received an undergraduate degree, and he continued his passion for acting with the undergraduate acting company, Lab!Theatre. He was a member of the Beta Chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon. He then studied at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, where he earned a Master of Fine Arts in 1994. A year after graduating, he made his debut on Broadway in the Lincoln Center Theater production of Tom Stoppard's Arcadia.
Crudup began acting in such films as 1996's Sleepers and 1997's Inventing the Abbotts. While he has appeared in many films, he regularly returns to the stage. His first role in an animated feature was in 1999's English release of Princess Mononoke, in which he starred as Ashitaka. He then played Russell Hammond, the lead guitarist of the fictional band Stillwater in Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous (2000). He has also been the voice of MasterCard "Priceless" commercials in the U.S. since 1997, making his first appearance in an ad in 2005. In 2006's The Good Shepherd, he played British spy Arch Cummings, a stand-in for Kim Philby.
Crudup received a Tony Award nomination for his performance in The Elephant Man on Broadway, as well as for his role as Katurian in the Broadway production of The Pillowman, also starring Jeff Goldblum, which closed on September 18, 2005. From October 2006 through May 2007, he was featured in the first two parts of The Coast of Utopia by Tom Stoppard at Lincoln Center, playing literary critic Vissarion Belinsky, for which he received another Tony Award nomination and subsequent win.
Crudup recently completed Watchmen with director Zack Snyder in Vancouver, Canada. He portrays the superhero Doctor Manhattan.
He is on the Board of Directors for The Actors Center in New York City.
From 1996 to November 2003, Crudup dated actress Mary-Louise Parker, with whom he had a son, William Atticus Parker, born on January 7, 2004. Crudup left Parker while she was seven months pregnant. Widespread speculation was that Crudup left Parker for his Stage Beauty co-star Claire Danes. In 2004, Danes and Crudup confirmed that they were dating, but denied the press reports that they were together at the time of Crudup's split with Parker. In December 2006, the couple split after Danes was seen together with her Evening co-star Hugh Dancy.