1 of 6 | Billy Crudup stars in and executive produces "Hello Tomorrow!" Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Feb. 17 (UPI) -- Billy Crudup said his futuristic salesman character on Hello Tomorrow!, premiering Friday on Apple TV+, responds to his clients' personal needs. Crudup, 54, plays Jack, a salesman in an unspecified future year who sells time-shares on the moon.
"Any good salesperson isn't really selling a product," Crudup told UPI in a Zoom interview. "They're selling to a person."
Jack actually sells the promise of vacations on the moon, and although he has a quota to meet, Crudup said he believes his character sincerely wants to offer his clients a wonderful opportunity.
"That personal connection is born out of curiosity," Crudup said. "A love for humanity, I think, is the thing that comes through in a great salesperson."
Jack manages a team of salesmen that includes Eddie (Hank Azaria) and Herb (Dewshane Williams). Crudup said Jack's outward confidence also masks his insecurities.
"He's so good at this sell that it makes you wonder what's ticking underneath," Crudup said. "There's a little confusion there at the bottom. Confusion can definitely lead to some sadness."
Jack also recruited a new salesman, Joey (Nicholas Podany), who he mentors. Crudup said Joey also fills a void in Jack's life.
"He goes to great lengths to try to introduce Joey to a world of hope, optimism and dream fulfillment," Crudup said.
Podany said he read books on sales and listened to a recording of The Power of Inspired Salesmanship by Millard Bennett and Norman Vincent Peale. He said Bennett also pushed the idea of fulfillment through sales, which Podany found suspect.
"If you are able to get the product, if you're able to be the salesman, your life will be better -- no doubt about it," Podany said. "And then you go home and you cry a little."
Backing up the salesmen, Shirley (Haneefah Wood) manages the office and helps generate sales leads. Wood said Shirley buys into what Jack is selling "as long as she's bringing that money in."
Though set in the future, Crudup said he sees Hello Tomorrow! as a statement about modern day consumerism. People cannot visit the moon in 2023, but Crudup said we may have an unhealthy dependence on material possessions.
"It's a wonderful question to continue to ask ourselves as ingenious human beings," Crudup said. "What can really improve the quality of life for the highest number of people? I'm not sure that the answer is always products."
Williams said he also saw Herb's time-share sales as a metaphor for modern technology, including Zoom.
"I won't even necessarily call [technology] an addiction," Williams said. "I'll just say it's a necessary aspect of our modern lives."
Wood said selling trips to the moon suggests consumers are trying to find an escape in their lives, the same way people try to escape into gadgets like smartphones.
"We think that living on the moon is more is going to be better than us living down here on this Earth today and being present," Wood said.
The salesman of Hello Tomorrow! dresses the part, too. Crudup said wearing the tailored suits gave him the posture of being a salesman.
"It forces a kind of physical behavior," Crudup said. "Pulling up your britches there around your waist, it was a gift to have such incredible costume designers whose work built your character with you."
Hello Tomorrow! is Crudup's first executive producer credit in his 36-year screen career. His feature film credits range from 1997's Sleepers to 2000's Almost Famous and 2017's Justice League, plus director Zack Snyder's 2021 extended edition of that film.
Crudup has been in the Apple family as a cast member of The Morning Show, which is returning for a third season. He said he does not consider himself an executive producer to the extent his Morning Show co-stars, Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, earn that credit.
However, Crudup said he appreciated the additional responsibilities, mainly the conversations with creators Amit Bhalla and Lucas Jansen, writer-producer Stephen Falk and executive producer Jonathan Entwistle.
"It just meant more phone calls, but it was wonderful because I got to collaborate," Crudup said.
New episodes of Hello Tomorrow! premiere Fridays on Apple TV+.
Billy Crudup (L), and his partner, Naomi Watts, arrive on the red carpet at the premiere of Apple's "Hello Tomorrow!" in New York City on February 15, 2023. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo