10 Actors You May Not Have Known Were in Almost Famous
In 2000, one of my favorite directors made a film that he deemed his “love letter to rock music.” Cameron Crowe spent his younger years as a reporter for Rolling Stone Magazine, covering some of the most notable acts of the 1970s. Almost Famous was a movie filled with classic music, memorable scenes, and great acting. Even though most of the actors weren’t ones whom might be called “A-listers,” the ensemble cast was unforgettable.
Some of the actors who played fairly large roles in the film might have been more noticeable, including Zooey Deschanel, of New Girl and (500) Days of Summer fame, and Jimmy Fallon, of late night fame. Deschanel played the main character’s older sister, Anita, while Fallon played the featured band’s big time road manager, Dennis Hope.
The following list includes ten actors that appeared in Almost Famous whom you may not have recognized thirteen years ago when the movie was released.
Playing the role of David Felton, one of the editors at Rolling Stone Magazine, Wilson only has a few lines throughout the film. Known more notably for his role on The Office, his part does not go unnoticed. His wardrobe, along with his kitschy cigarette holder, only adds to the oddity that is his character. My favorite line of his comes in his reaction to William’s Rolling Stone article: “Dark. Lively!”
When William first meets with Lester Bangs, we see Bangs doing a radio interview with an opinionated disc jockey. Perrette, who plays forensic scientist Abby on NCIS, shines in her short scene as Alice Wisdom. She has the balls to profess her love for Jim Morrison, whom Bangs claims is “a drunken buffoon.”
Who could forget Vic, the obsessive Led Zeppelin fan who toured “with” the band? Jay Baruchel, of How To Train Your Dragon and She’s Out Of My League, played the devoted and incessant fanboy with gusto. His passion was his ticket to the crazy world of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, but Vic was just there for the music. Or really, just for the Zeppelin.
Most people know the music of Peter Frampton, but might not be able to recognize his face. It took me a quick glance over his IMDb page to even find out he was in this film. A household name in the 1970s, Frampton gave us hits like, “Baby, I Love Your Way” and “Do You Feel Like We Do.” In Almost Famous, he doubled as Humble Pie’s road manager, as well as a behind-the-scenes music supervisor and rock and roll mentor to the fictional band, Stillwater. He was the guy at the road manager’s poker tournament who bought Penny Lane for 50 bucks and a case of Heineken.
The late, great comedian Mitch Hedberg had a minuscule role in Almost Famous, contributing to the road manager’s poker tournament as well. He plays The Eagles road manager who shares the “Crosby” drugs, but asks not to be mentioned in any publications. Known for his comical one-liners, Hedberg was a very funny man who left this world far too soon.
“You can taste the colors with your mind, brother.” The Legendary Red Dog is played by Zack Ward, an actor who might not sound familiar by name, but who played a well-known villain in one of the greatest holiday movies ever made. Disguised as one of The Allman Brothers’ roadies, Ward once played Scut Farkus in A Christmas Story. His yellow eyes are not mentioned in Almost Famous, but his red locks flow for days. I like him better as an adult, even if he is high in all his scenes.
If you haven’t seen Modern Family, you might be living under a rock. But if you didn’t notice Eric Stonestreet in Almost Famous, you may just be pretty normal. Stonestreet might be known as a flamboyant family man now, but he once had a small role as a desk clerk named Sheldon. He was the man who found out the hard way that William’s mother was a handful. “She freaked me out. Tell her to stop,” he said, delivering the finest stone cold stare ever while William reads the message: “DON”T TAKE DRUGS!!”
John Patrick Amedori
Especially known for his stint on Gossip Girl, Amedori has played bit parts in television and movies. He portrayed a young Ashton Kutcher in The Butterfly Effect, but in Crowe’s film, he embodies a young rock musician and music fan among a crowd of “Real Topeka People.” He is shown playing guitar with Russell Hammond (Billy Crudup) right before the acid kicks in at the party. This actor is one that has definitely blossomed with age.
Comedian Nick Swardson has starred in several Happy Madison films such as Grandma’s Boy, Just Go With It, and That’s My Boy. But before any of these movies debuted, he was billed as “Insane Bowie Fan.” When William travels to Cleveland against his will, the band enters a hotel lobby swarming with fans of David Bowie. We hear Swardson bashing Bowie’s new record, calling it “Hamburgers for the Apocalypse,” but when Ziggy Stardust himself enters the lobby, Swardson screams with delight. You can tell he still idolizes the man.
In a crucial, yet deleted scene, we are drawn into the world of underground radio interviews of the 1970s. Kyle Gass plays disc jockey Quince, who attempts to delight us with his psychedelic poetry while in a drug-induced trance. We all know Gass is a very funny man from his work with Jack Black in Tenacious D, but this scene reiterates his comic genius. Falling asleep and snoring with joint in hand makes for an excellent radio interview.
And as a bonus to this list, and because I wanted to take it all the way to eleven, I give you Mister Rolling Stone Magazine himself. With about two seconds of screen time and absolutely no speaking lines, Jann Wenner is credited as “Legend in Cab.” He is shown in the back of a taxi, as William runs down the streets searching for a rejected Penny Lane. And as “Mona Lisas & Mad Hatters” plays in the background, we are reminded of how Cameron Crowe must “thank the lord for the people [he] found.” Wenner was the man who gave Crowe a shot as a young writer all those years ago. Without which, we might have never been graced with the awesomeness that is Almost Famous.