Almost Famous –

Student Conversations: Cameron Crowe

Cameron Crowe, Kate Hudson and Patrick Fugit spark an Oscar buzz with Almost Famous

In Almost Famous,” a budding 15-year old wanna-be rock journalist receives something every budding 15-year old music journalist dreams about: an assignment from Rolling Stone magazine to go on tour with one of the country’s most noted emerging rock bands.

Sound too good to be true? Probably, but this is exactly what happened to “Almost Famous” director /writer Cameron Crowe. Crowe, of “Jerry Maguire” and “Say Anything” fame, kickstarted his pop culture career as a writer for Rolling Stone, palling around with noted critic Lester Bangs and moving cross-country on tours with Led Zeppelin and others.

“I tried to keep it a secret that this is my autobiography,” Crowe says of “Almost Famous,” which opens nationwide this Friday. “People tend to get weird when they see someone and they’re like ‘This is a move about MY life!’ I added fake scenes just to justify that.”

Be that as it may, Crowe isn’t finding it necessary to justify anything else about “Almost Famous.” The film has already sparked a huge Oscar buzz, while stars Patrick Fugit and Kate Hudson are earning accolades as the film’s young 1970s-era costars. Student.Com caught up with the trio and asked them what being “Almost Famous” is really like. Being that this movie is more or less your very own story, were there any surreal moments for you? Some deja-vu, perhaps?

Cameron Crowe:“I got sort of emotional when Phillip Seymour Hoffman was doing scenes as Lester Bangs. There’s one scene in a diner, and Hoff is in a Guess Who tee shirt and he’s sitting in the back with William (Fugit). I had to stand aside and compose myself. I don’t think anyone saw me do it… but it was like I died and watched a scene from my very own life.”

“It’s 95-percent autobiographical. And that makes it vulnerable. Last night, I was reading online where someone had read the script, and they were upset that that one scene didn’t make the final cut. That was hard to read – The critical part of this would be so much easier if it wasn’t about MY life. This was a story I always knew I would tell. I mean, I did get to go on the road with Led Zeppelin. I would tell people privately some of the things I witnessed and some of the things that happened, and they would be like ‘No way!’ A lot of these rock and roll stories are a lot better than anything I could make up.” That said, was there anything you did in the film to protect the integrity, so to say, of your mother, or sister — or even any of the musicians you may have based your characters on?

Crowe: “I was worried about that ‘line’ when writing about my mom. But she loves the movie! It’s just like journalism — when you profile someone, and you include some really dicey stuff in the article. And then when you see them later, they never bring up the dicey stuff you thought they would get mad about. It’s always like ‘Why did you write about my wrinkled shirt… I mean, the murder stuff and everything, that’s all true… but why mention the shirt?’” So how do you break the news to your family that there’s a film coming out…

Crowe: “You tell your loved ones, ‘Hey, there’s a movie coming out, and it’s about us. So you try to be responsible.” Kate, what did you do to prepare for the role of Penny Lane, who is more or less a delusional groupie?

Kate Hudson: “About four weeks before production, Cam and I sat down and talked about the essences of the character. From that, it was understood that we were able to be free in the parameters of the character, I tried not to limit myself. In portraying Penny Lane, I was portraying the masks she had out on, [and] her vulnerabilities how that made the masks fall.”

Crowe: “In the movie, when her character talks about being there for the music, Kate pulls it off so well that she really reminded me of the boys and girls of that time.” Patrick, you make your big-time debut in this movie, and you’re still pretty young. Where did you get the inspiration to start acting?

Patrick Fugit: “I grew up in Salt Lake City, and my friends and I… acting was something we did for fun. And then, we got involved with the local theater shows, because I came from an artsy background. In the 7th grade, I played the shoemaker in ‘The 12 Dancing Princesses.’ I asked my mom if I could get an agent, and soon, I was in TV shows — I did ‘Touched By An Angel,’ and one time, I got eaten by ants.” Eaten by ants?

Fugit: “It was a horrible TV movie for FOX… ‘Legion Of Fire: Killer Ants.” It was weird… we were in a town, and I found this big pile of dirt, and I was with a friend, and I was like ‘Let’s check out this pile of dirt!’ And he was all suspicious, because his father was the sheriff… I ended up falling down the ant hole.”

Hudson: I kind of had something like that – though I wasn’t eaten by ants. I was in something called “Ricochet River.” But now, I’m working with Cameron Crowe! I mean, ‘Say Anything!’ ‘I gave her my heart and she gave me a pen.’ That’s a classic.”

Courtesy of – Jon Vena – September, 2000