William Gaither "Billy" Crudup (pronounced /ˈkruːdəp/; born July 8, 1968) is an American Tony Award-winning actor of film and stage. He is well known for his roles as guitarist Russell Hammond in Almost Famous, Will Bloom in Big Fish, and Ashitaka in Princess Mononoke. He also starred in the 2007 romantic comedy film "Dedication (film)", alongside of Mandy Moore. He appeared as Doctor Manhattan in the 2009 film Watchmen.
Crudup was born in Manhasset, New York, the grandson of Billy Gaither, a well-known Florida trial lawyer. His parents divorced during his childhood, and later remarried, before divorcing a second time. Crudup has two brothers: Tommy, an executive producer, and Brooks, also a producer. He left New York with his family when he was about eight years old, first living in Texas, then in Florida. He graduated from Saint Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 1986.
Crudup attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he received an undergraduate degree, and he continued his passion for acting with the undergraduate acting company, Lab!Theatre. He was a member of the Beta Chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon. He then studied at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, where he earned a Master of Fine Arts in 1994. A year after graduating, he made his debut on Broadway in the Lincoln Center Theater production of Tom Stoppard's Arcadia.