Billy Crystal is coming back to television. Since his breakout appearance on the soap opera parody sitcom Soap, Crystal has been relatively limited in his on-screen appearances on the small screen, only briefly appearing in FX‘s The Comedians and reprising his role as Mike Wazowski in the Monsters at Work series in recent memory. Now, he’s set to lead a new limited series from Apple in Before which also has acclaimed director Barry Levinson at the helm.
Crystal will star as a child psychiatrist in the midst of a terrible period of his life. After losing his wife, he encounters a troubled young boy in need of help. Although details are sparse about the series, the role sounds like a bit of a departure from his usual comedic shtick. Sarah Thorp (The Bounty Hunter, Hawthorne) wrote the series with Dune screenwriter Eric Roth also on board as a writer. All four of Crystal, Thorp, Levinson, and Roth will executive produce the series. Paramount Television Studios is producing the series for Apple.
Before will reunite Crystal and Levinson for the first time since the latter executive produced the sequel film Analyze That with Crystal reprising his role as the psychiatrist to Robert De Niro‘s mafia don Paul Vitti from the 1999 film Analyze This. While Crystal will be playing an oddly similar role this time around, the situation appears to be quite different and Levinson will now be fully in charge of the direction.
Ever since announcing his presence to the world with Soap, Crystal has forged a career as an acclaimed movie star and comedian with six Emmys to his name. Throughout the 80s and 90s, he appeared in a slew of popular films, including This is Spinal Tap, The Princess Bride, Throw Momma From the Train, Mr. Saturday Night, and City Slickers. One of his biggest breaks, however, came in 1989 with When Harry Met Sally which launched his career into the stratosphere. He’s also been unafraid to do voice work in films, appearing in The Critic, Monsters Inc., and the English dub of the Studio Ghibli classic Howl’s Moving Castle. Outside of film, he’s also known for his hosting duties at the Academy Awards and on Saturday Night Live.
Levinson has also proven himself one of Hollywood’s great creatives, perhaps best known for his Best Director-winning film Rain Man. Among his other directorial efforts are Wag the Dog, Paterno, The Natural, and The Wizard of Lies. Like so many creatives, he’s recently turned to streaming for work, most recently executive producing the Hulu series Dopesick and Showtime‘s City on a Hill. He has a few upcoming projects which he’ll helm including One Giant Leap, Francis and the Godfather, and The Jury Room.
Additional details for Before are still in flux at Apple as they try to nail down the number of episodes for the series among other things. Be sure to visit Collider for updates on Before.