Almost Famous is a 2000 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Cameron Crowe and telling the fictional story of a teenage journalist writing for Rolling Stone magazine while covering the rock band Stillwater, and his efforts to get his first cover story published. The film is semi-autobiographical, as Crowe himself was a teenage writer for Rolling Stone. The film is based on Crowe's experiences touring with rock bands Poco, The Allman Brothers Band, Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. In a Rolling Stone article, he talks about how he lost his virginity, fell in love, and met his heroes, experiences that are shared by William, the main character in the film. Despite failing to break even, the film received positive reviews. It received four Oscar nominations, one of which led to an award to Crowe for his screenplay. It was also awarded the 2001 Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media. Roger Ebert hailed it the best film of the year. It also won two Golden Globes, for Best Picture and Kate Hudson won Best Supporting Actress.
In 1973, William Miller (Patrick Fugit), is a 15-year-old boy aspiring to be a rock journalist. His mother, Elaine (Frances McDormand), wants him to become a lawyer. Shunned by his classmates, he writes for underground papers in San Diego, sharing the love of rock music instilled in him through a gift of albums left behind on the day his sister Anita (Zooey Deschanel) leaves home. William listens to an interview with rock journalist Lester Bangs (Philip Seymour Hoffman). William has sent Bangs copies of his work, and Bangs gives William a $35 assignment to write up a review of a Black Sabbath concert. Bangs advises William to be honest and unmerciful, but fails to mention how to get into the show or meet the band. Without credentials or a ticket, William cannot get into the arena. He meets some semi-groupies who call themselves "Band-Aides": Estrella Starr (Bijou Phillips), Polexia Aphrodisia (Anna Paquin), Sapphire (Fairuza Balk) and their leader Penny Lane (Kate Hudson). The Band-Aides gain entrance to the show, but William is still barred from entry as the opening band, Stillwater, arrives late. At first reluctant to assist a journalist, they eventually bring William backstage after he verbally praises their work. The guitarist, Russell Hammond (Billy Crudup), takes a liking to William, partly because of William's friendship with Penny. William goes with Penny to the "Riot House" the Hyatt Hotel on Sunset Boulevard to meet Stillwater. Penny, feigning retirement from her rock glory days, acts as William's chauffeur, but only to get close to Russell, for whom she has genuine feelings and a past relationship. William is called by Ben Fong-Torres (Terry Chen), editor of Rolling Stone, who wants him to do a story for their magazine. William deepens his voice on the phone, as Ben believes William is several years older than he really is. When William convinces Ben to let him do a story on Stillwater, he is instructed to go on the road with them. Aboard "Doris," the band's decrepit but beloved tour bus, ride Stillwater, a couple of their crew, the Band-Aides, and "the enemy", there to report what he sees and hears. On the first leg of the trip, William makes his first in an increasingly frustrating number of attempts to interview Russell. Penny watches the interaction and sympathizes with William. William experiences tensions with the band due to his role as a journalist. Russell receives an electric shock on stage in Phoenix, which infuriates their manager Dick Roswell (Noah Taylor), causing them to leave the show without finishing. In Topeka, Kansas, a t-shirt showing Russell in focus with the rest of the band out of focus sparks an argument between Jeff and Russell. Russell and William leave, going to a teenage house party so Russell can be with people who are "real". Tripping on acid, Russell climbs onto the roof, screaming "I am a golden god!" and instructing William to write that his last words were "I'm on drugs!", before jumping into the pool. William calls Dick and a reluctant Russell is persuaded to board the bus the next morning. A new manager, Dennis (Jimmy Fallon), comes on board to help steer the band, and it is revealed that Penny must leave the tour before New York, where Leslie, Russell's ex-wife/girlfriend, will join them. During a poker game he allows Dick to put up the groupies as a stake. The band loses the groupies to the band Humble Pie for $50 and beer. When William tells Penny, she acts nonchalant but is devastated. Penny and Doris are left behind; Dennis has piled the band into a plane for more gigs. Penny goes to New York on her own, and as the band gathers in a restaurant with Russell's girlfriend, Penny shows up. As they celebrate making the cover of Rolling Stone, Penny makes Leslie uncomfortable and Dick asks her to leave. William chases Penny back to her hotel and finds her overdosed on quaaludes. While trying to keep her awake, he confesses his love for her, just before doctors burst open the door and pump her stomach. William and Penny spend the morning walking through the city, and Penny reveals her real name to him (a secret she has told very few). Penny thanks William for saving her and being her friend on the tour. As they leave New York, Stillwater's plane is caught in poor weather and looks like it will crash. Believing they will die, the group confesses their secrets. When Penny is insulted by Jeff, William defends her and discloses his love. The plane lands safely, leaving everyone to ponder the changed atmosphere. William must continue on to San Francisco to finish the story, and so he parts ways with the band in the airport. As he leaves, Russell tells him to write whatever he wants. Remembering Russell's request to "make us look cool," William writes a story that the Rolling Stone editors dismiss as a "puff piece." William seeks advice from Bangs, who advises him to be "honest and unmerciful." Upset about Penny, he rewrites the article, telling the truth. The Rolling Stone editors can't wait to publish it, but have to ask the band to verify it. Fearful of how the article will affect their image, the band denies everything, making William look like a liar. William is crushed and the story is dead. Sitting dejected in the airport, he sees his sister, who has become a stewardess and lives on her own terms. She tells him they should go on a trip together and, exhausted, William chooses to go home to San Diego. Backstage at the Miami Orange Bowl on the Stillwater tour, Sapphire talks to Russell about Penny's near-suicide and how despite the warnings she received about letting people fall in love with her, one of them saved her life. Russell is curious about the person Sapphire is talking about, but Sapphire chastises him, saying that everyone knows what the band did to William and how awful they think it is. Russell calls Penny and asks for her address, telling her he wants to meet. Unbeknown to Russell, she gives him William's address in an attempt to solve the conflict between them. Russell goes to the house, thinking it is Penny's, but finds Elaine instead. Learning who he is, she lets him in to see William as Russell realizes where he is. They reconcile and Russell reveals that he called Rolling Stone and told them William's story is true. The film ends as Russell finally gives William an interview.