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Trivia / Almost Famous

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  • Acclaimed Flop: Despite critical and awards love, the film failed to break even (grossing $47.3 million on a $60 million budget). In fact, the film's box office failure may have led to the decline of Cameron Crowe's career until his 2011 comeback. Fortunately, it's been Vindicated by History and is now one of Crowe's signature films.
  • Billing Displacement: Kate Hudson is not the main character. Patrick Fugit is (and Billy Crudup gets first billing). But she is nowadays almost always the first actor people associate with the movie.
  • California Doubling: The film was shot in and around Ocean Beach, San Diego, CA, Crowe's hometown. Much of the film is set there, but the parts that aren't were also filmed there. The San Diego Sports Arena appears both as itself and as a stand-in for several other concert venues throughout the film.
  • Cast the Runner-Up: Kate Hudson was originally supposed to play William's sister, Anita, but was given the role of Penny Lane when Sarah Polley dropped out.
  • Dawson Casting: Borderline. William, who is 15, is played by Patrick Fugit, who was 16 throughout filming (turning 17 shortly after it wrapped). Inverted or played straight, depending on how you interpret Penny's Vague Age, by Kate Hudson, who was 20 (though she claims to be as young as 16, in context she is obviously lying). The two actors were born only three-and-a-half years apart.
  • Defictionalization: One of the Director's Cut DVD extras was a "Stillwater" CD.
  • Deleted Scene: In addition to the "Stairway to Heaven" scene included on the Special Edition DVD (see Executive Meddling below), there's also a deleted scene of Penny saying the name of Russell's girlfriend Leslie over and over again (Word of God says it's a Shout-Out to a similar scene in Stolen Kisses).
  • Enforced Method Acting: In the plane scene, instead of having the camera shake, Crowe and cinematographer John Toll made it so the set was shaking, so the actors' reactions were genuine.
  • Executive Meddling: A benevolent example. Crowe wanted to include a scene where William plays the entirety of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" for his mom. Word of God says they couldn't get the rights to "Stairway" for the scene, but it was eventually included, without the Zeppelin song, on the Special Edition DVD. Some YouTubers have synced the song to the visual, though the DVD includes an on-screen prompt for the viewer to play "Stairway" alongside the scene.
    • DreamWorks SKG decided that Cameron Crowe's original vision of the film as a "band on the road" movie wouldn't appeal to audiences, so the theatrical version removed a large amount of Stillwater material in order to reshape the film as a love story between William and Penny. To compensate for tampering with the film, DreamWorks later released the "Almost Famous Untitled: The Bootleg Cut" DVD, which features the film as Crowe intended.
    • Crowe also planned for the film to be released as "Untitled," but DreamWorks demanded a more unique name. Extras were allowed to submit potential titles ("Saving William's Privates" was one), until Crowe settled on "Almost Famous."
  • Irony as She Is Cast: Cameron Crowe's mother Alice, who was as anti-rock in real life as she's depicted in the film, plays Mrs. Deegan, the high school counselor who's one of the ones trying to convince Elaine to let William go on tour with Stillwater (see Executive Meddling above).
    • Going the other way, Frances McDormand is actually a huge rock-n-roll fan playing the anti-rock Elaine.
  • Method Acting: According to the DVD Commentary on the director's cut, Noah Taylor stayed in character as the band's manager during breaks in filming.
  • Missing Trailer Scene:
    • The trailer opens with the young William at a school dance, staring at all of his classmates who are taller than he is.
    • There's a part in the hotel room in Phoenix where William is telling Estrella, Polexia and Sapphire that he has "family members with severe anxiety problems". This is part of a scene in the script where Polexia calls her father (pretending to be calling from Paris, France), and William tells the three Band-Aids not to use the phone, in case his mother calls.
    • There are different takes of the scenes where Elaine tells her students, "Rock stars have kidnapped my son!", and on the bus during the "Tiny Dancer" scene where William tells Penny, "I have to go home", and she replies, "You are home".
  • Real-Life Relative: Cameron Crowe's mother is Mrs. Deegan, William's high school counselor. Also, his sister Cynthia, along with her family, appear briefly in the elevator of the Cleveland hotel.
  • Star-Making Role: For Kate Hudson. Although far from suffering in obscurity due to being Goldie Hawn's daughter, she was not known as an actress beforehand. This is the performance that earned her widespread acclaim and helped to launch her as an A-List star in her own right. Even years after her more popular romantic comedies faced heavy backlash, "Almost Famous" remains the one film of hers well-regarded today.
    • Also, to a lesser extent, for Billy Crudup. It did not launch him to the same heights that Hudson reached but did bring him cult recognition. Additionally, Crudup was more well known than Hudson going into Almost Famous, having Sleepers on his resume at the time, so it's harder to pin this film as his SMR than hers.
  • Technology Marches On: Played for a laugh. "A Mo-Jo, it's a very high-tech machine that transmits pages over the telephone! It only takes eighteen minutes a page!"
  • Those Two Actors: Jason Lee and Zooey Deschanel had appeared together the previous year in Mumford, though as with this film, they didn't have any scenes together.
  • Throw It In!: "Do you want to go to Morocco?" "Yes. [beat] Ask me again." This was not scripted, but in fact was Patrick Fugit asking Kate Hudson to do another take of the exchange.
    • Kate Hudson came up with the response "You are home" on the bus during the "tiny Dancer" scene.
  • What Could Have Been:
  • Word of God: Upon the 4k limited edition being released in 2021, Cameron Crowe stated he actually doesn’t see William’s romance with Penny lasting very long. It’s something that will burn bright but go out fast, leaving William to end up in a far more mature and satisfying relationship with Polexia.
  • Working Title: Cameron Crowe initially wanted to name the film Untitled, after the style of an obscure record by a forgotten band. The studio forbade it until the Director's Cut, which was officially titled Untitled: The Almost Famous Director's Cut.
  • Write What You Know: The entire film is based on Cameron Crowe's days as a teenage rock journalist.
    • In his 2012 memoir My Cross to Bear, Gregg Allman confirms that several aspects of the movie are directly based on Crowe's time spent with The Allman Brothers. The scene in which Russell jumps from the top of the Topeka party house into a pool was based on something Duane Allman did: "the jumping off the roof into the pool, that was Duane—from the third floor of a place called the Travelodge in San Francisco. My brother wanted to do it again, but the cat who owned the place came out shaking his fist, yelling at him. We told that story all the time, and I have no doubt that Cameron was around for it." He also confirms that he and Dickey Betts played a joke on Crowe by claiming clauses in their contract did not allow his story to be published—just before he was to deliver it to Rolling Stone.
  • Write Who You Know: William Miller's mother was based on Cameron Crowe's own mother, who even showed up on the set to keep an eye on him while he worked. Though he asked his mother not to bother Frances McDormand, the two women ended up getting along well.