Billy Crudup is the best kind of chaos on ‘The Morning Show’


At the end of the first season of the drama series Apple + The morning show, an arrogant, sleek-haired TV executive named Cory Ellison tells a coworker to maybe try a smile every now and then. Tale as old as the world! Except in this case, the subject of the unsolicited comments is somehow not a pissed off underling at United BA, the ruthless, sexist and uniquely fictional entertainment giant at the heart of the show. No, Cory is actually addressing one of the few people above him in the org chart: Big Boss, Fred, a guy Cory would love nothing more than to switch from his position to the top of the world. ‘UBA.

“I know you have a wife, a few houses, and a network,” Cory tells his boss. “But you don’t seem very happy with all of this. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you smile for more than a second or two in a row. What is a pity, because smiling? It’s fun to smile. It feels good.”

If this had always been true, Cory should be feeling fantastic. Played by Billy Crudup with awards-level vigor – winner Tony, longtime Mastercard voice and golden / blue god won his first Emmy for it The morning show role — Cory spends much of the first season showing off those pearly whites, sometimes as an invitation and sometimes as a warning. An ambitious newcomer to the fast-paced network, he smiles softly from the margins of the boardroom and raves loudly on the sidewalks of the city center. He serves the menacing heat of a Stepford wife scheduled to give a TED talk; he operates with the erratic charm of a corporate Joker. In The morning show‘s first season, Cory quotes Robert Frost, Sun Tzu and Eater dot com with impenetrable and therefore unsettling glee. He smiles as he compares UBA workers, in various ways, to oil-covered sea otters from the Exxon-Valdez oil spill and lurking predators quietly awaiting a kill. He shines positively whenever he’s picking up or covering up, which he often is.

The more tense a situation is, the more it feeds it. (In one episode, Cory talks about the winds of SoCal kindling the fire of Santa Ana with reverence, as if they were a role model for him; he is, after all, a man who lives to stoke.) “It’s exciting. ! ” he whistles with real emotion during a potentially catastrophic telephone negotiation of season 1 between the brass of the UBA, a quorum of lawyers and The New York Times. Cory is a Littlefinger of the last days, shouting in a closing elevator that “Chaos is the new cocaine!” and orchestrate new havoc behind closed doors.

When the first season of The morning show Left out, Cory was pulling off a takeover of the airwaves with the help of presenters Alex Levy (played by Jennifer Aniston) and Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon), giving him something to smile about. Except that — judging by the first episode of The morning show New ‘messy entertaining’ and ‘absolutely bonkers’ second season, which kicked off last Friday – it looks like audiences are ready for something different this season. He’s a version of Cory whose permanent smile has collapsed into something more like a grimace.

All along The morning showseason one, Cory is successful in large part because he’s so unpredictable, both by nature and through painstaking self-design. And the same can be said about Crudup’s bespoke and alluring treatment of what could easily have been a generic or even squeaky role. (And show!) Watching Crudup ham and zag is like feeling like a character sitting in a meeting chaired by Cory: the observer is left enthralled and also says, “Wait, what ?!”

In a series packed with talented actors, including reliable stars Aniston and Witherspoon and harassed stars like Mark Duplass, it’s Crudup who is the most memorable stage partner of the first season, whom he sings showy tunes with. (voice extremely Cory) Alex Leeeevy, or eat underground falafels with Duplass producer character Chip Black, or be the kind of guy who responds, when a catering server offers to take his coat at a party, “Permission granted.” »In an interview with GQ in 2019, Crudup said he wasn’t entirely sure what made him say the word ‘never’ with random flourishes during one of Cory’s lines on Twitter awake, but that it was possible that Yankees’ flowery announcer John Sterling was an influence. Talk with Vanity Fair Last summer, Crudup said that “one of the wonderful things for me playing Cory was, they said there was no mandate for this guy to be cool.” After all, people in power are often not.

In a conversation with IndieWire Around the same time, Crudup said that as he thought about how to play Cory, he envisioned guys he had crossed paths with over the years, especially around New York City. There was the “37-year-old CEO of a big company,” he said. “He kissed the sun. Wherever he went, there would never be a problem because he was there, because the world hadn’t told him about the complexities and failures. He had only had the thrill of his own imagination in real time. There was the professional poker player who “was constantly talking to you for information, doing social math and poker math at the same time,” Crudup said. “This is how you see Cory peeking aside in the middle of something, checking to see if there’s any information he needs to add to his ever-evolving algorithm.”

In interviews about her role, Crudup often comes back to this quality as one of the two things Cory essential – this ability to, basically, read a play. (It’s an observation reminiscent of a season 2 replica of Succession when one brother laughs at another, “Look at yourself, seeking influence like a Robo-cop yuppie.” The other quality, as Crudup puts it, is the possession of a certain type of arrogance born of never really failing.

Cory can cut off a chaotic presence, but “I don’t think he’s an agent of chaos,” Crudup said. GQ, “Because I don’t have the impression that he is an anarchist at all. He loves the system, are you kidding me? The system is the thing that gives him great costumes. The crucial thing is: he understands the system as it is, and he is not afraid of the system because it is changing because there is no evidence yet that he does not know how to do it. understand.

Just an episode in the new one The morning show season, however, such evidence is already starting to accumulate. In Season 1, Cory got the benefit of not being the best dog, which gave him the freedom to make vivid, precise remarks such as, “Watching a beloved woman break up is timeless American entertainment! But in the Season 2 premiere, Cory is like the dog chasing the car and not sure what to do when it catches up with it.

He is fired, he is hired, he is foiled. He is forced to face a new him, sort of: a sharp go-getter named Stella, played by Greta Lee, whose superpower isn’t her smile, but rather her unimpressed gaze. Ratings are dropping under the reign of Cory’s favorite morning presenter (vocally extremely Cory) Bradley Jackson. When Cory suggests a staff reshuffle involving Alex’s return, Stella’s level “I don’t know if bringing her back is the event that you think it’s’ is both a devastating own and a suggestion that Cory is no longer the prodigy – if he ever really was.

Playing Cory is a physically daunting task: the character speaks so quickly, and so quickly, that Crudup often finds himself sweating while playing. In Season 1, “I would often say to my wardrobe supervisor, ‘Can you please have another shirt next to it? “” Crudup told ET.

In Season 2, however, Cory’s cracks appear to be designed to show. The camera slows down so viewers can record the stress on her face; his smiles seem more forced. (Fear not though, he always quotes random poetry and can still pronounce the name “Maaaagggiiieeeee! When Bradley confronts him on New Years Eve about a personal decision that leaves her dry, he doesn’t. not the same clever joke ability he once relied on. He’s got too much on his shoulders to be able to reliably disarm. He’s no longer a skilled snake oil salesman, he’s just a snake.

“I’m doing my best here, okay?” He complains to Bradley. Complains. “This work is hard! I know it doesn’t sound like that to you, because I walk in and out of the room smiling like a Cheshire cat, but it’s fucking hard! If last season was all about Cory’s smile, this season seems to be more about what happens when that look is wiped from her face. The first part could have been fun, but the second part? It’s entertainment. And if there’s anyone who understands the difference, it’s our man Cory.

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