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Billy Crudup on Netflix, sex scenes and Almost Famous

You have one of those ‘Bowie’ surnames. How do you actually pronounce it?

It’s ‘Crood-up’. I guess I haven’t found a way to make it significantly important enough to get people to agree on the same pronunciation. This is a lifelong journey of mine.

Your new Netflix series is called Gypsy. Is it about the traveller community?

No. Ironically, shooting a show called Gypsy actually created some stability in my life because we shot it in Brooklyn, near my home. So it was one of the first things in a while where I have felt like a person who had a regular job. I think it’s something we actors long for, even though we are committed to this life of misadventure and irregularity.

Film appeal:.Naomi Watts

So what is Gypsy about?

It is about a woman, played by Naomi Watts, who finds herself in the middle of her life detached from all the ambitions and hopes and dreams she had when she was in her early twenties. She is a therapist who begins to use the intrigue in the lives of her patients as an escape mechanism for herself. And so, needless to say, her own life, which includes a husband, played by me, and a daughter and her mother and her friends, begins to become destabilised because of her desires. The writer, Lisa Rubin, told me that when she was writing the story she was listening to the Fleetwood Mac song Gypsy, which is about the gypsy spirit she sort of lost in her youth.

Why pick this as your first TV series?

I am a big fan of Naomi Watts. I think she is spectacularly talented and she has sustained a career doing ambitious things in film for a number of years, which is really hard to do. I knew that if she was attached, the intention was to create something sophisticated. And I figured that if I was going to be in a TV show for a season or a couple of seasons, I wanted it to at least have the ambition to be interesting, because I can get bored pretty easily.

Sam Taylor-Johnson, who shot the first Fifty Shades Of Grey, directs the first two episodes. The trailers look steamy.

Well, I do shower at one point! That may be the height of it. I kept joking with Naomi that we seemed to have an awful lot of sex for a marriage that is meant to be boring. I think there will be many couples who will be envious at the type of sex this couple finds boring.

Back in the day: Crudup in Almost Famous

What do you watch on Netflix?

I was addicted to Stranger Things. It has the kind of Close Encounters feel that I loved growing up. And Narcos. The first thing I ever really binged on was Breaking Bad. It is hard to hit the pause button on that show.

We’ve just seen you in Alien: Covenant. What is it like to get face-hugged by an alien?

Cosier than you would expect. It feels like a warm embrace. I can remember people saying, ‘Oh, your character is so stupid for looking into that egg’ and I keep having to remind them that he didn’t see the original Alien. He had no idea what was going to come out of it.

You play Dr Henry Allen in the upcoming Justice League. What can you tell us about that?

All I can tell you is that I was in the trailer. I am so sorry but it is all super clandestine. Which is kind of fun.

Is it true you were once in the running to play Batman?

I think I had one conversation with Christopher Nolan about it but I don’t know if I was ever seriously considered. Batman is an awesome character. Having unlimited resources and an irrepressible desire for social justice makes for a compelling kind of character, particularly one that is tortured by the kind of trauma he experienced. You can generate a lot of energy and passion in a role like that. And then you get all the cool toys too.

What springs to mind now when you look back at Almost Famous?

More than anything, it is gratitude to Cameron Crowe for casting me as Russell Hammond. As you get older, you realise you are lucky to be in anything people will see across generations. Most of the people who are fans of it now are people who were very young when it came out in 2000. It does mean you have to put up with s*** like them saying, ‘Whoa, you look like Russell’s father’ but I am OK with that. We all get older.

Gypsy launches on Netflix on Friday