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Billy Crudup at the 'Hello Tomorrow' New York Premiere
Joy Malone/Getty Images

The 10 best Billy Crudup movies and TV shows, ranked

And he isn't done yet!

William Gaither Crudup, known professionally as Billy Crudup, has been acting in movies and TV shows for almost 30 years and has built an impressive filmography of performances. Both good-looking and charming, Crudup could have likely skated by playing your typical leading man roles, but has consistently chosen interesting and nuanced parts to play throughout his career. Lately, he has taken his talents to the small screen, playing key roles in some major TV shows, including the recently released Apple TV+ science-fiction comedy-drama Hello Tomorrow!, which premiered back in February. We have ranked the best Billy Crudup movies and TV shows from worst to best.

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10. Eat, Pray, Love (2010)

2010’s Eat, Pray, Love is, obviously, a Julia Roberts vehicle first and foremost, but the many men in her life play essential roles as well, including Crudup as Steven, Roberts’ ex-husband. Eat, Pray, Love is based on the 2006 Elizabeth Gilbert memoir of the same name and was written and directed for screen by Ryan Murphy. While reviews were mixed for the movie, it was a hit at the box office, as fans flooded in to see Roberts and company in this charming story of self-discovery and adventure. 

9. The Stanford Prison Experiment (2015)

If you have taken any level of psychology, you have probably heard of the titular experiment in which this film revolves around. Here, Crudup plays Dr. Philip Zimbardo, the psychology professor responsible for the experiment that attempts to test the theory that social situations, and not individual personality, are a main driver of behavior. As you might recall, the experiment quickly gets out of hand, with some members abusing others in an unfortunate turn of events. This film does an excellent job of bringing this increasingly intriguing experiment to life and Crudup is excellent as the complicated Dr. Zimbardo.  

8. The Morning Show (2019)

When Apple TV+ was looking for a way to break out into the already overstuffed streaming landscape, they knew they needed to make a significant splash. To do that, they made a show with enough star power for a major Hollywood movie. The result was The Morning Show, which stars Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Steve Carell, and, of course, Crudup. The show centers around a fictionalized morning news show in the vein of The Today Show or Good Morning America. Crudup plays Cory Ellison, the CEO of the fictional UBA broadcast station who must deal with the fallout of his primary anchor losing his position due to sexual abuse allegations. Crudup won Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series at the Critics’ Choice Awards for his role in the show.

7. Princess Mononoke (1997)

This marks the only example of our list of Crudup doing voice work. That said, he is excellent in the essential role of Ashitaka, a warrior prince, in the English dub of this Studio Ghibli film which touches on such subjects as environmentalism and individualism. Princess Mononoke remains one of the more popular and successful Studio Ghibli films of all time and was, at the time of its release, the highest-grossing film ever in Japan. 

6. Big Fish (2003)

2003’s Big Fish is a movie about what it means to tell stories and how we use them to process the moments in our lives. It is also one of the more imaginative and fantastical live-action movies to come out of the early 2000s. Here, Crudup plays the role of Will Bloom, a young, recently married man who is trying to connect with his father prior to his death. Will’s father, Edward — who played by both Albert Finney in the present and Ewan McGregor in flashbacks — is the primary driver of the story, but Crudup’s Will is essential in understanding the themes. This being a film from the mind of Tim Burton, there are plenty of flights of fancy throughout, as both Will and the audience try to wrestle fact from fiction in his father’s telling of his life story. Big Fish was praised by critics at the time, who credited both the acting and the absurd, winding story as highlights. 

5. Watchmen (2009)

Watchmen remains one of the more iconic and important comics of all time. The Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons comic is a wonder of storytelling and imagination, building a world that feels both real and heightened with relative ease. All this made the movie adaptation a very big deal in 2009, with the attentive hype one might expect. Throughout the 2000s, there were a handful of directors pegged to take on this sprawling story, but the job eventually went to Zach Snyder, who at that time was best known for 2007’s 300. Starring Malin Åkerman, Matthew Goode, Carla Gugino, Patrick Wilson, and, of course, Crudup — here playing Joel Osterman/Dr. Manhattan — Watchmen received mixed reviews upon its release, though many had to acknowledge that any adaptation of such a complex story would be difficult for anyone to pull off. 

4. Without Limits (1998)

Though Crudup had done a few movies prior to 1998’s Without Limits, this was very much his coming out party to the larger public. Playing the real-life role of record-breaking, long-distance runner Steve Prefontaine, Without Limits puts the focus on Prefontaine’s relationship with his trainer and mentor Bill Bowerman, here played by Donald Sutherland. Though this film does not necessarily break the mold of your classic inspirational sports movie, it is extremely well-acted and certainly led Crudup to get more roles as his career progressed. 

3. Rudderless (2014)

This story of music, art, and grief comes from the mind of actor William H. Macy in what was his directorial debut. Rudderless tells the story of Josh Manning (Crudup), a father who is dealing with the recent death of his son, who was shot and killed in a school shooting. The movie gets going when Josh finds a series of song demos his son had recorded prior to his death, setting him on a course in which he must face grief head on. Though the movie was criminally under-seen at the time of its release, it is well worth the watch, if only for the performances alone. 

2. 20th Century Women (2017)

Director Mike Mills has made a career of making heartfelt and subtle films that hone in on very specific relationships, familial and otherwise. 20th Century Women is no exception, telling an intimate story of how a group of characters interact and touch each other’s lives. Here, Crudup plays William, a carpenter and mechanic who becomes involved with multiple of the titular women of the film. The rest of the cast is rounded out by fantastic performers like Elle Fanning, Annette Benning, and Greta Gerwig. Mills was nominated for Best Original Screenplay for his work on the film. 

1. Almost Famous (2000)

Crudup has been in plenty of good movies and will surely take on excellent roles in the future, but it will be hard for any to live up to the role of Russell Hammond in Almost Famous, the comedy/drama about a fictional band rising to prominence in the early 1970s. Written and directed by Cameron Crowe and based heavily on his own experience as a music journalist, Almost Famous has grown to become one of the most beloved films of all time, despite being considered a box office bomb at the time of its release. Crudup is excellent as Hammond, trading on his good looks and easy charm to play a believable rock star with a heart of gold.

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Sean Fennell
Sean Fennell is a pop-culture obsessive from Philadelphia who's desperate attempt to watch, read, and listen to everything is the great battle of his time. Sean graduated with a Journalism degree from Shippensburg University in 2015 and since that time has been freelancing for sites all over the web, covering everything from music to television to movies and interviewing dozens of creative minds along the way. If you’re wondering whether he has seen or heard it, he has, and he has thoughts.