Is Jack Billings Based on a Real Con Salesman?

Apple TV+’s ‘Hello Tomorrow!’ is a retro-futuristic series that follows the story of a salesman named Jack Billings. Jack’s job is to convince people to give him their money in exchange for getting a place of their own on the moon. He is great at the job and runs a team of talented salesmen. Despite his passion for the job, no one knows that Jack is pulling a scam. Things get more complicated as Jack is forced to stay in the town of Vistaville for the sake of his son, Eddie, who has been so estranged from him that he doesn’t even know that Jack is his father. With every episode, the show puts Jack on the verge of having his entire life unraveled. If you are wondering whether a real person served as an inspiration for this complex character, then here’s what you need to know.

Jack Billings is a Fictional Character

The idea of creating Jack’s character first came to creators Amit Bhalla and Lucas Jansen while watching a 50s training video for car salesmen. This led them to think about a salesman who is selling things to people that are not real, but in some ways, starts to believe his own lies, which means that he walks a very thin line, crossing which would tear his entire life apart. “This could be a very powerful, very engaging, and charismatic salesman who also lived sort of poised over a chasm of crazy, disastrous possibilities,” Jansen said.

When the role came across Billy Crudup, he recognized certain traits of his own father in Jack. The actor revealed that his father was also a salesman and “was a hustler mostly”, which meant that he also had the ability to read people, see through them, and tell them what they wanted to hear. So, when the time came to bring Jack alive from paper to screen, he decided to draw from his father’s experiences.

As the story moves forward, we see how Jack works. One of the things that makes him such a successful salesman is that he finds ways to relate to people. In one scene, he teaches Eddie how to read people, citing the example of an old woman baking cookies. Crudup said that his father too “loved people and was curious” about them. This meant that he would express interest in the life of everyday people. “He was curious about people and it didn’t matter who it was. He was as interested in Brenda, our server at Denny’s, as he was in Tom Cruise,” the ‘The Morning Show’ actor said.

While he didn’t understand this as a child, over the years he realized that this was one of the core strengths of his father. “He had all these kinds of ways of relating to people that were awful for us growing up. That was the feature that I wanted to bring to Jack at the core of this storytelling. A real affection for humanity in all of its ranges,” he added. In addition to this, Crudup also found a different side of Jack that slowly appears over the series.

Calling him more of a preacher than a salesman, Crudup said: “In Jack’s mind, providing that hope is proselytizing. The good word is the future because the present is so mundane, it’s so boring. It doesn’t have any of the American promise. It just has the reality of living.” While trying to give people this hope for a better life, Crudup said that Jack himself exhibits that optimism. “What you see is this guy being ripped apart. It’s a great contrast for somebody who has to live with the things that they’ve done while still trying to maintain the optimism that is at their core,” the Emmy-winning actor said.

Considering all this, it is clear that even though Jack Billings is a fictional actor, the writers, and the actor have made sure to present him as a real person with real problems and relatable flaws, giving the audience a chance to understand him better, maybe even hope for things to turn out better for him.

Read More: Is Hello Tomorrow’s Vistaville a Real Place?