Initially known for his work on the stage, Billy Crudup emerged in the late '90s as a young actor of considerable talent, gracing the screen in an increasing number of films. Tall, lean, and possessing one of the best-defined jaws in the Western Hemisphere,Crudup was born on Long Island, NY, on July 8, 1968. Raised in Florida and Texas, he earned an undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and then received a Master's degree from New York University.
Crudup first won audience attention and critical acclaim in his role as an amorous tutor in the widely praised New York production of Tom Stoppard's Arcadia. His performance netted him both an Outer Critics Circle Outstanding Newcomer Award and a Theater World Award. He followed this success with a lead in the stage production of Bus Stop, winning similarly excellent reviews for his performance. He made his film debut in 1996 with a small part in Woody Allen's Everyone Says I Love You, and the same year he got a more sizable part among the all-star cast of Sleepers. Acting alongside Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Brad Pitt, Jason Patric, and Minnie Driver, Crudup received some recognition for his portrayal of a troubled survivor of childhood abuse. This recognition was amplified the following year, when he starred with Joaquin Phoenix in Inventing the Abbotts, a small film that cast him as an amorous, destructive ladies' man. That same year, he starred with Woody Harrelson in Stephen Frears' critically maligned The Hi-Lo Country (1998), and he won kudos for his performance as runner Steve Prefontaine in Without Limits. Critics praised both his physical resemblance to the late athlete and his ability to portray him with a vivid blend of arrogance, pathos, and sympathy.
In 1999, Crudup could be seen starring in Jesus' Son, an independent film that had its premiere at that year's Telluride Film Festival. While he received high marks from critics for his lead role in the adapatation of the acclaimed Denis Johnson book, Crudup wouldn't have his mainstream breakthrough until the following year. Cast by Cameron Crowe in a role originally intended for Sleepers costar Brad Pitt, Crudup was a hit with audiences and critics alike in the ode to 70s-era rock-and-roll Almost Famous, a film that allowed him to flex his abilities as both a dramatic and comedic actor while cementing his status as a bonafide sex-symbol.
Though his star was clearly on the rise, Crudup opted to avoid overexposure by taking roles in the independent films World Traveler and Charlotte Grey. However, it wouldn't be long before he graced the sceens of multiplexes again. In late 2003, Crudup played the straight foil to a delightfully eccentric Albert Finney in Tim Burton's Big Fish. The film was a hit at the box-office and declared by many to be Burton's best film in years. ~ Rebecca Flint Marx, Rovi