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 the acclaimed independant film Jesus' Son, but his mainstream breakthrough would happen the following year in Cameron Crowe's ode to 70s-era rock-and-roll, Almost Famous. Cruddup's performance as an up-and-coming rock star made him a stop tier star as well as a sex-symbol, and he would capitalize on his success over the coming years with selective, prominent roles in films like Charlotte Grey, Big Fish, The Good Shepherd, Watchmen, Eat Pray Love, and Too Big to Fail.