Portraying a wide range of characters appeals to actor Billy Crudup. His films include Without Limits, Almost Famous, Big Fish, Watchmen and Jackie. He shared amusing and interesting anecdotes during his question-and-answer session after the Jesus’ Son screening during the Florida Film Festival at the Enzian Theater.
Crudup finds pleasure and growth as an actor portraying conflicted, complicated and unlikeable characters and said “his intention is to show one moment where you get a glimpse of their humanity.”
He played a messed up guy named FH, which is short for F**khead in Jesus’ Son, a drug-induced ride that crashes and finds stability during the 1970s. The film was adapted from a collection of short stories by cult author Denis Johnson and features supporting cast members Jack Black, Denis Leary, Holly Hunter and Dennis Hopper.
Black’s scenes are filled with many laugh-out-loud moments, including when he was a hospital orderly helping a patient who had a hunting knife in his eye and accidentally running over a rabbit and trying to save its bunnies. Crudup said he had to close his eyes during the takes he shared with Black because he was so vividly entertained by what Black was doing as an observer that he couldn’t get through the scene. It was difficult for Crudup to look or engage with him because “what he was doing was brilliant, inventive, entertaining and charismatic.”
Crudup has had a wealth of acting opportunities, and I asked him if there was one character that has stayed with him.
His response was “F**khead because of his clumsy hopefulness.” He also said there was something touching in the scene where the heart tattoo comes to life and it’s sort of back lit with golden rays and finding that in any small experiences you have in your relationships despite all of the awfulness in life. To Crudup, that’s something to aspire to along with finding enough peace in your inner life where you can appreciate the constant stream of beauty and surprise around you and your experience with humanity.
Crudup also discussed portraying runner Steve Prefontaine in Without Limits. He was an athlete who was at the forefront of endorsing Nike footwear and competed in the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany.
Tom Cruise was one of the film’s producers. Crudup said he would occasionally get a phone call from Cruise who would cheer him up and say, “Keep at it! It’s going to be great!”
He also portrayed the golden god Russell Hammond in one my favorite rock ‘n’ roll movies Almost Famous, written and directed by Cameron Crowe. Crudrup was thrilled to be a part of the film, but was afraid of becoming typecast.
“I didn’t want to become trapped by playing heroes or romantic leads,” he said. “Not that I didn’t want to play romantic characters, but Russell is an anomaly. He’s a bona fide rock star who has mystery.”
Other roles include portraying the nagging and frustrated son Will Bloom who is trying to determine fact from fiction during his dying father’s life in Big Fish, directed by Tim Burton.
He also portrayed superhero Dr. Manhattan in the Watchmen.
His upcoming movies include Alien: Covenant and Justice League.
One attendee asked if he has nightmares about Sigourney Weaver and Crudup assured him that the actress was in his dreams.
He couldn’t share too much about Alien: Covenant, but said he plays a member of the crew on a colonizing mission that doesn’t go as planned. The movie hits theaters on May 19.
In Justice League, he plays Barry Allen’s (The Flash) father Henry and couldn’t tell the audience any other details about the upcoming film. The film’s release date is Nov. 17.
Learn more about Crudup’s career on imdb.com.