The moment of having to “fake it until you make it” came during what should have been an especially emotional scene in Crudup’s film Rudderless. Crudup played a father whose son is killed. He recounted filming a memorial scene when literally nothing came to him when cameras started rolling. Director William H. Macy finally had to intervene, explaining why it’s better to fake it than force it.
Billy Crudup said raw emotion doesn’t always come
Crudup described how any professional can “get the yips” on The Off Camera Show. “William H. Macy directed the movie that I got inspired to play guitar more and sing,” he said referring to Rudderless.
“There was a scene where my character just completely breaks down,” he recalled. “And so usually my approach to that is to not try to dictate the way that that’s going to happen, just arrive at the moment and allow your body to respond in the way that it responds.”
“And usually, something comes up, whether it’s of interest or not, is somebody else’s idea later on,” he added. “But sometimes it doesn’t. You get in your head, you get self-conscious, sometimes you get the yips. As a golfer, you know how to make a putt. But like all of a sudden, you’re over the ball and everything looks foreign.”
He recalled one emotional scene where he couldn’t find emotion to react
Crudup recalled the scene where he should be overwhelmed with intense emotion but literally nothing came. “So we’re doing this scene in Rudderless, and I walk up to like a memorial,” he shared. “And I’m waiting, I’m looking at it, I’m breathing. And this is about as much emotion as is happening.”
“And so I say cut. Walk back, do it again. Waiting … Why are those people looking at me and why or why is Bill staring at me? Why is he pacing? Cut! We’re gonna do it again,” Crudup said.
William H. Macy told Billy Crudup to ‘fake it’
At this point, Macy knew the only way to get through the scene was for Crudup to act. “I go back and then Bill comes up at a certain point,” Crudup said. “He goes [whispers] ‘Hey, hey, so I think you’re going to have to fake it.’ And I was like, ‘Understood boss.'”
He acknowledged that raw emotion doesn’t always come. “That’s where the part of it, where it doesn’t come,” Crudup said. “And you just have to do your best pretend version. And it’s not going to be the muse. It’s not going to be something that you’ve exceeded your potential, but it will be workmanlike. You’re going to be able to tell the story enough.”
He added that Macy’s comments echoed within him when he played rocker Russell Hammond in Almost Famous. “So the stuff in Almost Famous, you know? Yup. It would be churning inside,” he said. “You’re not a rock star. You’re a theater idiot who is way out of his league here. So you’ve got that going on in your head and you just have to go to work.”