Almost Famous (2000) Poster



Jump to: Cameo (2) | Director Trademark (1) | Spoilers (1)
The film is director Cameron Crowe's semi-autobiographical account of life as a young Rolling Stone reporter. The actual group Crowe first toured with was The Allman Brothers Band. Gregg Allman distrusted him, and kept asking if he was a narc. Crowe was in a near-fatal plane crash while traveling with The Who. The character of Russell Hammond is based on Glenn Frey of Eagles.
Penny Lane asks William if he'd like to go to Morocco with her. He says, "Yes... ask me again." According to Cameron Crowe, "ask me again" was Patrick Fugit stepping out of character and asking Kate Hudson to repeat her lines for another take. Crowe liked the take as-is and kept it in the final cut.
To look like a real rock band, the four actors in Stillwater rehearsed for four hours a night, five nights a week, for six weeks.
Most films have music budgets of less than $1.5 million. This film featured over 50 songs, with a music budget of $3.5 million.
When Cameron Crowe's mother appeared on the set for a cameo, Crowe made every effort to keep her away from Frances McDormand, who was playing a character based on her, so McDormand's interpretation of the part wouldn't be swayed. When he left the set for a few minutes on the first day of shooting, he returned to find McDormand and his mother having lunch together.
Stillwater's songs were written by Peter Frampton (who also had a small part in the film), Cameron Crowe, and his wife Nancy Wilson of the rock band Heart, a fact indicated early in the credits. The music acknowledgments credit Russell Hammond and Stillwater as if they were real authors and performers.
Cameron Crowe's character is pulled into the pre-performance huddle. The scene is based on an occasion when Eddie Vedder pulled Crowe into Pearl Jam's huddle before performing one of their Lollapalooza shows.
There actually was a band called Stillwater in the 70s though the band depicted here is not them. They agreed to the use of their name after reading the script.
According to Cameron Crowe, he sent the script around town to see if he could get anyone to respond to it. Steven Spielberg, founder of Dreamworks, read Crowe's 172-page script over the weekend and called Crowe on Monday saying, "Direct every word". Crowe said he filmed almost all of the script.
When Penny Lane drives William to the hotel to meet Stillwater, a reflection on the windshield resembles the cover of Pink Floyd's album "Dark Side of the Moon".
Cameron Crowe says he got Billy Crudup's line, "Well, yeah, on my better days, I am Russell from Stillwater," directly from John Cusack's response to a girl in a bar who asked, "Aren't you Lloyd Dobler?", his character in Say Anything... (1989).
Philip Seymour Hoffman's schedule only permitted him to be on set for four days. He had the flu the whole time.
At the party, Russell Hammond cries out, "I am a golden god!" when he is on acid. That is a reference to Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, who is purported to have said the same thing (sober) while looking over Sunset Strip from a hotel balcony.
The roles of Russell Hammond and Penny Lane were originally written for Brad Pitt and Sarah Polley respectively. Polley dropped out to work on her own project, the low-budget Canadian movie The Law of Enclosures (2000). According to Crowe, Pitt worked with Crowe for months before finally admitting, "I just don't get it enough to do it." Kate Hudson was originally cast as William's sister.
The old records William looks through at the beginning are actually Cameron Crowe's, saved from his younger years.
At the age of 18, director Cameron Crowe wrote the liner notes to the "Frampton Comes Alive!" album by rocker Peter Frampton. Frampton returns the favor here by acting as a music consultant for the film.
Penny Lane dancing in the empty, debris-strewn Cleveland auditorium is Cameron Crowe's favorite scene in the movie.
When the tour plane hits turbulence, Russell starts to sing "Peggy Sue", a reference to Buddy Holly, who died in a plane crash while on tour. Russell then continues "Whoa baby!", a reference to The Big Bopper, who died in the same crash.
Peter Frampton taught Billy Crudup how to play the guitar in preparation for the concert scenes.
Fairuza Balk's exclamation, "Does anybody remember laughter?" is a reference to an additional lyric Robert Plant (of Led Zeppelin) would often insert in live performances of "Stairway to Heaven".
When Frances McDormand's character reprimands Billy Crudup's character over the phone, Crudup was actually was on the other end of the line.
The real life Lester Bangs died of a drug overdose at a fairly young age. Eerily, Philip Seymour Hoffman, who portrays him in this film, would later die of a drug overdose as well.
At the very beginning of the movie, when the production titles are going, the soundtrack includes the sound of a needle starting a vinyl record. At the end of the movie, after the final credits roll, the soundtrack includes the sound of a record ending and the needle returning.
The opening credits include a turquoise, blue, and white cigar-shaped aerosol can labeled "Ozium." It's an odor masking product that smells like light oil, used to hide the smell of marijuana.
In William's final interview with Russell Hammond, William asks "What do you love about music?", Russell replies "To begin with...", and William laughs. "To Begin With..." is the title of Stillwater's (fictional) first album, seen briefly on an 8-Track in the opening sequence, and more clearly in The Making Of, on the DVD.
The legal disclaimer at the end of the film (which, for most films, merely states that all characters and events are fictional, with any real-life similarities being coincidence), notes that the character of Penny Lane was "loosely based" on a real individual. Cameron Crowe has stated that Penny Lane is based on his real-life friend, Pennie Trumble, who goes by the name "Pennie Lane". She lives in Portland, Oregon, and is involved in the music industry.
Lawrence Kasdan receives "special thanks" credit. Kasdan encouraged Cameron Crowe to revive his oft-discussed personal project and get the movie made.
Patrick Fugit's voice broke during filming.
Marti Frederiksen provided the lead singing vocals for Jason Lee as Jeff Bebe. When Jeff Bebe learns that Stillwater will make the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, Jason Lee's actual voice sings the song "Cover of the Rolling Stone"
Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready provided the guitar track for Stillwater's songs.
The hand writing on the notepad during the opening credits belongs to Cameron Crowe.
Film debut of Eric Stonestreet.
Jason Lee said he emulated the moves of Paul Rodgers, lead singer of Free and Bad Company, to accurately portray rock star Jeff Bebe. His aim was "not to be a parody".
When the band finds out that William is using "everything" in his Rolling Stone article, Jeff Bebe wears a T-shirt that says "Jeff Bebe" on it, but the picture above it is of Russell Hammond. This is a sly allusion to the feud between them, and ties into the line from the "Untitled" version where Jeff says to Russell, "I'm the you they get when they can't have you."
The school shown for a few seconds at the beginning of the film is the University of San Diego High School, Cameron Crowe's alma mater. Crowe gave his high school journalism teacher, Daniel Wilson, a cameo during the high school graduation scene. The concert scenes that open the film were filmed at the San Diego Sports Arena, down the road from USDHS .
Jimmy Fallon's character warns the band "If you think Mick Jagger is going to be touring when he's 50..." As of 2014, at age 71, he's still active and touring
References to The Allman Brothers Band:
  • A ticket stub from an Allman Brothers concert is briefly visible in the opening scene,

  • A black-and-white photo of the fictional band Stillwater echoes the Allman Brothers' famous "Live at the Fillmore East" album cover

  • The character Red Dog is named after one of the Allman Brothers' famous roadies, Joseph L. Campbell (aka The Legendary Red Dog)

  • Allman Brothers' music plays on the tour bus

  • At the end of the movie, when Russell is in William's bedroom, he stands in front of a poster of the Allman Brothers' "Live at the Fillmore East" album cover.

The shot of the crowd at the start of the first Stillwater concert, with the roses on the stage and fan flashing a peace sign, is based on the cover of Neil Young's "Time Fades Away".
Produced in 92 days.
Kirsten Dunst auditioned for and almost got the role of Penny, but the part went to Kate Hudson instead.
The film's original title was actually "Untitled", but Dreamworks wouldn't allow it. Cameron Crowe called the bootleg edition on DVD "Untitled".
"Fever Dog", written by Peter Frampton, is similar to the opening song "Four Day Creep" on Humble Pie's live album "Rockin' The Fillmore" Frampton was lead guitar in Humble Pie.
According to the commentary on the director's cut, Noah Taylor stayed in character as the band's manager during breaks in filming.
The other bassist, or guitarist, who leads them off singing "Tiny Dancer" on the tour bus is Mark Kozelek, lead singer of Red House Painters. He has also produced many solo albums.
At Continental Hyatt House, Vic the Led Zeppelin fan's T-shirt has song lyrics on it. The front says "To be a rock and not to roll", from "Stairway to Heaven". The back says "Have you seen the bridge?" from "The Crunge".
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When William finally makes an appearance at Rolling Stone's San Francisco office, a Hunter S. Thompson "Freak Power" poster can be seen on the wall. William's editor also mentions Thompson in an earlier phone conversation.
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In the live Stillwater scenes, Ed Vallencourt playing a set of Ludwig Amber Vistalite drums. The see-through, acrylic drum sets were made popular in 1973 when John Bonham of Led Zeppelin first used them on the 'Houses of the Holy' tour. Other drummers used these sets on tours during the 1970s, including 'Keith Moon' of The Who and Nick Mason of Pink Floyd.
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Ben Fong Torres was a one-time senior editor and writer for Rolling Stone, from near the beginning through to the early eighties. During his time with Rolling Stone he interviewed Bob Dylan and The Doors, amongst many others. Since leaving he has published a number of books, including "The Doors by The Doors" (in collaboration with The Doors), and "Hickory Wind", a Gram Parsons biography.
Jon Favreau and Jack Black both auditioned for the role of Lester Bangs.
Uma Thurman turned down the role of Penny Lane.
Rainn Wilson's character, David Felton, seems to be loosely based on Hunter S. Thompson, down to the cigarette holder.
'Frank Barsalona', who is referred to several times in the movie, was one of the first major promoters of rock band tours. His 'Premier Talent Agency' was responsible for helping launch the touring careers of Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Springsteen and The Talking Heads among others.
A real musician, Leslie Harvey, guitarist for Stone the Crows, was actually killed by grabbing a microphone that was not grounded in 1972.
One of the opening songs over the credits is by Alvin and the Chipmunks. Jason Lee starred in the trilogy of Alvin and the Chipmunks movies, as the character who asks the chipmunks if they're "ready to sing their song"
Penny's camera is a Polaroid SX-70.
Stillwater is disappointed about a photo on the T-shirt. It's close replica of the cover of Bad Company's 1977 album, "Burnin' Sky".
Scarlett Johansson auditioned for a role that was later cut.
The scene where Russell gets electrocuted on stage is based on an incident where Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley was electrocuted on stage during a concert on Dec 12th, 1976 at the Lakeland Civic Center in Florida.
The principal announcing the graduates' names in the William's high school graduation scene is played by Charles Walker. Walker also played the principal in Say Anything... (1989) which was also written and directed by Cameron Crowe.
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The road manager reads Ray Bradbury's 'The Illustrated Man' on the tour bus.
Elijah Wood screen tested for the role of William.
Claire Danes was a top contender for the role of Penny Lane.
At the Continental Hyatt, William briefly peers into a room to see a man and woman singing a duet. This is an homage to Cosmic American music pioneer Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris, portrayed by musicians Pete Droge and Elaine Summers. Parsons was one of the first artists that Cameron Crowe interviewed (for a paper called Music World) and he has used Parsons' music in other films. For this film, however, Crowe asked Droge to write a new song that would sound Parsons-esque. This song is called "Small Time Blues."
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Christina Ricci auditioned to play Penny Lane and came close to winning the role.
Chloƫ Sevigny was considered for the role of Penny Lane.
Stillwater's plane is a Lockheed 18-56.
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During the turbulent plane ride, the pilot announces that they will land in Tupelo, MS. This is perhaps a reference to the birthplace of rock legend, Elvis Presley.
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When Russell walks into William's bedroom, a poster of the band Pink Floyd is visible on the wall adjacent to the headboard of William's bed.
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When William runs up the street after leaving his mother, you can see various writing utensils falling out of his bag.
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Peter Frampton:  member of the road crew for Humble Pie. In real life, Frampton was a member of Humble Pie from 1969 to 1971.
Jann Wenner:  the man in the back of the cab William looks into after he runs out of the party after Penny. He is listed near the end of the movie credits as Legend in Cab.

Director Trademark 

Cameron Crowe:  [To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)]  Immediately after the opening credits, William Miller and his mother are having a discussion about Atticus Finch, the protagonist of "To Kill a Mockingbird".


The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

John Fedevich, as Stillwater drummer Ed Vallencourt, speaks only one line, announcing (under duress) that he is gay.

See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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