In 2000, one movie bred a new generation of tiny dancers. "Almost Famous" might not have been the biggest box office success when it hit theaters, by there's no denying it's become one of the most iconic films of its time. The story of a young Rolling Stone journalist hitting the road with a rock band in the 1970s spoke to classic music fans as much as it did to people who fell in love with the era for the very first time. Written and directed by Cameron Crowe, the semi-autobiographical drama received glowing reviews upon its release and won a best original screenplay Oscar, two Golden Globes and even a Grammy Award for its legendary soundtrack. As the film celebrates its 20th anniversary on Sept. 13, 2020, join Wonderwall.com as we find out what its stars are up to now…
Kate Hudson starred as Penny Lane, a veteran groupie who catches the affection of almost every person she encounters. Penny, who's based on a real-life 1970s music promoter of the same name, is determined to prove she's more of a "band aid" than a typical groupie who's far more interested in the music than the band members themselves.
"Almost Famous" is the film that shot Kate Hudson into the stratosphere. She only had a handful of credits prior to her work as Penny but became a full-blown movie star immediately after delivering her Oscar-nominated and Golden Globe-winning performance in the hit rock drama. She next appeared in the costume epic "The Four Feathers," which came and went without notice, but then came her biggest hit to date: 2003's "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days." The romantic comedy co-starring Matthew McConaughey grossed more than $177 million at the box office, quickly became a classic in the genre and cemented the Los Angeles-born actress's status as a rom-com queen. She followed it with hits like 2003's "Le Divorce" and "Alex and Emma," 2004's "Raising Helen," 2005's "The Skeleton Key" and 2006's "You, Me and Dupree." Kate reunited with Matthew in 2008's "Fool's Gold" and teamed up with Anne Hathaway in 2009's "Bride Wars." The star got to flex her vocal skills in the 2009 musical "Nine," something she would continue to do in a recurring role on "Glee." She returned to her rom-com roots in 2011's "Something Borrowed" and 2016's "Mother's Day" and lent her voice to the animated hit "Kung Fu Panda 3" that same year. The actress also showed her more dramatic side in 2016's "Deepwater Horizon" and 2017's "Marshall." While taking some time away from acting, Kate launched her own line of workout clothes and activewear in 2013 — Fabletics. The fashion maven has put acting on the back burner to focus on the business, which currently operates 25 stores across the U.S. Kate also had a multi-year deal with retailer New York & Company and released two books. Kate — the daughter of actress Goldie Hawn and stepdaughter of Kurt Russell — was married to rocker Chris Robinson from 2000 to 2007; they have one son. She was engaged to Muse frontman Matt Bellamy from 2011 to 2014; they have one son. Kate has been in a relationship with musician-actor Danny Fujikawa since 2016; the couple welcomed a daughter in 2018.
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Patrick Fugit led the charge in "Almost Famous" as William Miller, the young magazine writer excited to follow a band on the road for the first time as he aims to get his very first cover story. William has to reconcile the fact that, as a music fan, meeting his heroes in person might be more disappointing than he imagined, and also process his feelings for Penny.
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"Almost Famous" marked Patrick Fugit's first big-screen appearance and it couldn't have served as a better breakthrough performance for a new actor. He followed it with the 2002 dramas "Spun" and "White Oleander" and the hit 2004 teen comedy "Saved!" He then had a multi-episode arc on the lauded TV series "ER" in 2003 before he took parts in indies like 2005's "The Amateurs," 2006's "Wristcutters" and 2009's "Horsemen." Then the Salt Lake City native moved into major studio flicks such as "Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant" in 2009, "We Bought a Zoo" in 2011 and "Gone Girl" in 2014. More recently, Patrick starred on the Cinemax horror series "Outcast" and in the 2018 drama "First Man" opposite Ryan Gosling.
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Billy Crudup portrayed Russell Hammond, the lead guitarist of Stillwater, the fictional band at the heart of the film. Russell's bandmates are frustrated that he's garnering most of the attention from press and fans despite not being the frontman. He develops a bond with both William and Penny that could damage the other relationships in his life.
Billy Crudup already had a slew of hits under his belt before "Almost Famous" such as 1996's "Sleepers," 1997's "Inventing the Abbotts" and 1998's "Without Limits." Shortly after, the veteran theater actor received Tony Award nominations for his work in a 2002 Broadway production of "The Elephant Man" and the 2005 play "The Pillowman." He balanced those with parts in 2003's "Big Fish," 2006's "Mission: Impossible III" and 2009's "Watchmen" and won a Tony in 2007 for his work in Broadway's "The Coast of Utopia." (He scored a fourth Tony nom in 2011.) The New York-born star also appeared in dramas like "Eat Pray Love" in 2010, "Spotlight" in 2015 and "Jackie" and "20th Century Women" in 2016 as well as action flicks like "Alien: Covenant" and "Justice League" in 2017. More recently, Billy starred on the 2017 Netflix series "Gypsy." He can currently be seen on the Apple TV+ hit "The Morning Show" — he earned an Emmy nod for his performance. Billy dated "Weeds" star Mary-Louise Parker from 1996 to 2003 but left her while she was pregnant with their son to date actress Claire Danes from 2003 to 2006. The star has been in a relationship with his former "Gypsy" co-star Naomi Watts since 2017.
Philip Seymour Hoffman played Lester Bangs, a veteran rock journalist based on the real-life Lester, who was one of the industry's most famous music critics. William seeks Lester out for guidance as he finds himself in over his head with this assignment.
Philip Seymour Hoffman was already a veteran character actor before taking part in "Almost Famous," having previously starred in 1992's "Scent of a Woman," 1996's "Twister," 1997's "Boogie Nights," 1998's "Patch Adams" and "The Big Lebowski" and 1999's "Magnolia" and "The Talented Mr. Ripley." He earned a Tony Award nomination for his work in the 2000 production of "True West" and then both acted in and directed a number of plays in New York. The New York native followed that period with parts in hits like "Punch-Drunk Love" and "Red Dragon" in 2002, "Cold Mountain" in 2003 and "Along Came Polly" in 2004. Philip hit a new peak with his starring role in the 2005 biopic "Capote," which received glowing reviews and earned him a best actor Oscar. He then made an Emmy-nominated turn in HBO's "Empire Falls" and joined Billy Crudup in 2006's "Mission: Impossible III." The star's critical acclaim wouldn't let up: He received additional Oscar nominations for his work in 2007's "Charlie Wilson's War" and 2008's "Doubt" as well as a Golden Globe nom for his work in 2007's "The Savages." His streak continued with 2011's "Moneyball" and "The Ides of March" and 2012's "The Master." He then had a part in two of the hit "Hunger Games" films. Sadly, the celebrated actor was found dead in his apartment in February 2014, the victim of an accidental drug overdose at 46. He's survived by his longtime partner, costume designer Mimi O'Donnell, and their three children.
Jason Lee starred as Jeff Bebe, the lead singer of Stillwater. Tensions between Jeff and Russell build throughout the film as Russell attracts more attention and success despite Jeff being the band's frontman. Things eventually erupt between the two, nearly causing the group to call it quits.
Ahead of "Almost Famous," Jason Lee was already known for his starring roles in director Kevin Smith's hit run of comedies including 1995's "Mallrats," 1997's "Chasing Amy" and 1999's "Dogma." After the rock drama, his winning streak continued with 2001's "Heartbreakers" and "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back," 2002's "Stealing Harvard" and "Big Trouble" and 2003's "A Guy Thing" and "Dreamcatcher." He also lent his voice to 2004's "The Incredibles." In 2005, the Southern California native began his four-season run as the title character on the hit comedy "My Name Is Earl." His performance earned him two Golden Globe nominations. He next starred on the drama series "Memphis Beat" and the sitcom "Up All Night." More recently, Jason shined in all four films in the "Alvin and the Chipmunks" franchise and in the 2019 comedy "Jay and Silent Bob Reboot." He also co-owns the Texas restaurant Barley and Board. The star was married to actress-photographer Carmen Llywelyn from 1995 to 2001 and was then engaged to actress Beth Riesgraf, with whom he has a son. He married Ceren Alkaç in 2008. The couple have three children.
Frances McDormand played Elaine Miller, William's strict mother. Elaine bans all rock music and pop culture influences from their home amid fears they might have a negative effect on her children. It's this behavior that drives both William and his older sister out of the house to pursue the very things their mother always worried about.
Frances McDormand is one of the most celebrated character actresses in Hollywood. Prior to "Almost Famous," she was best known for her work in films by acclaimed directors the Coen Brothers, like 1984's "Blood Simple," 1987's "Raising Arizona" and 1996's "Fargo," which won her an Academy Award. The Illinois-born actress received praise for her performance in "Almost Famous," receiving an Oscar nomination for her work. She also snagged an Oscar nom for 2005's "North Country." Frances next starred in the hits "Burn After Reading" in 2008, "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" in 2011, and "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted" and "Promised Land" in 2012. The star won a Tony Award in 2011 for her performance in the Broadway play "Good People" and an Emmy for her turn in the HBO miniseries "Olive Kitteridge" in 2014. This made her only the 12th actress to achieve the "Triple Crown of Acting" (Oscar, Emmy and Tony Award wins in the acting categories). In 2017, Frances starred in the hit drama "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri," which garnered her a second Oscar. She more recently had a part on the 2019 Amazon series "Good Omens" as the voice of God. Frances has been married to director (and frequent collaborator) Joel Coen since 1984. They adopted a son in 1995.
The free-spirited Polexia Aphrodisia was played by Anna Paquin. One of Penny's group of "band aids," Polexia takes an interest in helping William lose his virginity as well as in keeping him up to date on the budding romance between Penny and Russell. She also has an attraction to Stillwater's lead singer, Jeff.
Anna Paquin was a veteran child actress when she signed on to "Almost Famous" — she'd won an Academy Award at 11 for her performance in the 1993 drama "The Piano." The Canada-born, New Zealand-raised star also had notable roles in 1996's "Fly Away Home," 1997's "Amistad" and 1999's "A Walk on the Moon" and "She's All That" before landing her first blockbuster with "X-Men." Anna returned as Rogue in the following two "X-Men" sequels and in 2014's "X-Men: Days of Future Past." Beyond that, the actress had parts in 2002's "Darkness" and 2007's "Trick 'r Treat." Anna's most notable role to date is Sookie Stackhouse on the HBO supernatural-creature drama "True Blood," which ran for seven seasons from 2008 to 2014 and earned her a Golden Globe. Since then, Anna has lent her voice to 2015's Pixar hit "The Good Dinosaur" and taken part in the 2016 remake of the classic TV miniseries "Roots." More recently, she was seen in Martin Scorsese's "The Irishman," the final season of acclaimed drama "The Affair" and as the lead character on Pop's drama series "Flack." The openly bisexual actress married "True Blood" co-star Stephen Moyer, who played her vampire lover on the show, in 2010. The pair welcomed twins in 2012.
The Miller Family was rounded out by William's older sister, Anita, who was played by Zooey Deschanel. Anita can't stand her strict mother and hides a rock 'n' roll record collection that she uses to introduce William to modern music. It's Anita's music that ignites William's passion; her leaving home to become a flight attendant inspires her brother to pursue his interests.
"Almost Famous" proved to be a big moment for Zooey Deschanel, who only had one film and one TV credit to her name before it. The role led to a breakthrough series of films in 2002: "Abandon," "Big Trouble," "The Good Girl" and "The New Guy." Her work in the 2003 indie "All the Real Girls" and the hit comedy "Elf" officially made her one to watch in Hollywood. She followed those with parts in 2005's "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," 2006's "Failure to Launch" and 2008's "The Happening" and "Yes Man." It was the Los Angeles-born actress's work in the 2009 romantic comedy "(500) Days of Summer" that truly made audiences take notice. Then in 2011, Zooey snagged the lead role on the TV comedy "New Girl," which aired on FOX for seven seasons and earned her an Emmy nomination and three Golden Globe nods. More recently, her voice was heard in animated hits "Trolls" and "Trolls World Tour." Zooey is also one-half of indie music duo She & Him, who have released six albums since 2008. In 2011, the star co-founded HelloGiggles, an entertainment website geared toward women. She was married to Death Cab for Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard from 2009 to 2011 and film producer Jacob Pechenik from 2015 to 2019. She has two children with Jacob and has been dating '"Property Brothers" star Jonathan Scott since 2019.
Fairuza Balk played another of the band aids, Sapphire. Like Penny, Sapphire is a veteran groupie — she previously toured with Black Sabbath. Confident and self-assured, Sapphire has no problem speaking her mind whether it's telling Elaine to support her son or alerting Russell to how much he's hurt Penny.
Fairuza Balk had a lengthy resume before signing onto "Almost Famous," having previously starred in 1985's "Return to Oz," 1989's "Valmont," 1996's "The Craft" and "The Island of Dr. Moreau" and 1998's "American History X" and "The Waterboy." Since "Almost Famous," the Northern California native has focused on indie films like "Deuces Wild" and "Personal Velocity" in 2002, "Don't Come Knocking" in 2005, "Humboldt County" in 2008, "Bad Lieutenant" in 2009 and "Hell is Where the Home Is" in 2018. Fairuza also had an extended arc on the TV drama "Ray Donovan." The artist has performed as part of various bands throughout her career and has also exhibited artwork in Los Angeles.
Rounding out the band was Mark Kozelek, who portrayed Larry Fellows, Stillwater's bassist. One of the band's more quiet members, Larry sides with lead singer Jeff when tensions arise over Russell becoming the focus of the band despite not being the frontman.
Mark Kozelek is best known as a musician. He's one of the founding members of rock band Red House Painters, who formed in 1988 and went on to release six acclaimed albums. While the band was held up working on their final album, Mark recorded both a solo album and an EP of AC/DC covers. After a shift in members, Red House Painters became Sun Kil Moon in 2003. The band has released 11 albums, with their most recent effort coming out in 2020. Mark recorded some of the collections on his own and made others with the help of his bandmates. In August 2020, Pitchfork posted a lengthy report about sexual assault allegations against the rocker coming from multiple women. Mark has denied the allegations and has retained a law firm to "investigate and pursue as necessary any claims against anyone participating to defame me."
Bijou Phillips made up the last of the band aids, Estrella Starr. Estrella stands by Penny and her decisions for the group while also developing feelings for Larry.
"Almost Famous" was one of Bijou Phillips' first roles, as she'd only previously starred in the 1999 teen drama "Black and White." Before acting, Bijou had a successful run as a model, posing for Calvin Klein and Vogue Italia as a teen. At 17, the Connecticut native released her first album, "I'd Rather Eat Glass." After "Almost Famous," Bijou focused on acting and had parts in indie dramas like "Tart" and "Bully" in 2001, "Octane" in 2003, "The Door in the Floor" in 2004 and "Havoc" in 2005. The actress then became a bit of a scream queen with turns in horror films "Venom" in 2006 and "The Wizard of Gore" and "Hostel: Part II" in 2007. By 2010, she was working primarily on television, with small parts on "Raising Hope," "Hawaii Five-O" and "Law & Order: SVU." However, Bijou has not acted since 2012, instead focusing on her family. She married actor Danny Masterson in 2011; the couple have one daughter. In 2017, Bijou — whose parents are The Mamas & the Papas musician John Phillips and actress-singer-model Geneviève Waïte — underwent a kidney transplant as a result of a lengthy battle with kidney disease. Also in 2017, she was accused of assault on past film sets by various co-stars and apologized for her behavior. Her husband was arrested in 2020 on rape charges; he's denied any wrongdoing. The pair are also known for their commitment to the Church of Scientology.