Billy Crudup has supporting roles in two acclaimed 2016 films. In Pablo Larraín’s Jackie, Crudup plays a journalist modeled on Theodore White, who’s working on a magazine feature about the newly widowed Jackie Kennedy (played by Natalie Portman). In Mike Mills’s 1979-set 20th Century Women (led by a stellar Annette Bening), he’s a burned-out hippie who finds himself unsure of how to connect with women, or anyone.
Both roles showcase Crudup’s strengths as a character actor, skills he’s honed on screen and stage since bursting into most people’s awareness in 2000 when he played guitarist Russell Hammond in Almost Famous. And both films, though stylistically very different, tell stories firmly rooted in memorable, politically charged times.
I recently spoke to Crudup by phone about playing characters in period films and the politics of art in an uncertain age.