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.
Kedge on May 08, 2019:
I don't think I knew who Marc Maron was back when I wrote this, haha!
Mark on August 29, 2017:
Marc Maron is in it as well... How did you miss that one!?!
Juggling Taxi Comedy Cowboy Vegas on March 27, 2017:
I whatch this film every day for a year, Elton John music, the story had several stories in it, about a young teen that was in a adult world, was more adult than the band members, groupies that weren't just groupies they looked for love, band member that had went out of his way to make up for his wrong deeds . Love this film.
Juggling Taxi . on March 27, 2015:
I watched this film everyday for a year.
Stargrrl on February 23, 2015:
Some of these people I recognize--most notably, the guy from Tenacious D. That movie was hilarious--The Pick of Destiny.
Simon from NSW, Australia on February 22, 2015:
Nice Hub. Hadn't noticed most of these. great movie. I love the Tiny Dancer scene too.
Laura Smith from Pittsburgh, PA on July 23, 2014:
There truly is no bad performance in this movie. Everyone gives it their all, no matter how big or small their part. Awesome Hub!
Kenneth Avery from Hamilton, Alabama on May 07, 2014:
This is an excellent piece of writing. Amazing, to be precise.
I loved every word of it. Voted up and all the choices because you deserve it. I loved Rainn Wilson in the Office, and I am grateful that John (slacker) Karinski, was no in Almost Famous. Of course, Peter F., I still have his "Comes Alive" al bum with long version of "Do You Feel Like I Do?" I didn't know that Pauly Perette, "Abby," of NCIS was in this movie. You sure did a great review and wonderful research of your topic.
You have such
a gift for writing. Just use it without a selfish motive and no telling at how far you will go
and how many people you will touch.
I am going now to leave you some fan mail and become a follower.
I cordially invite you to read one or two of my hubs, and be one of my followers.
If you want to leave me any tips, suggestions on how to impove my hubs, just tell me. I need
all of the help I can get.
Kenneth/ from northwest Alabama
Nykki from Germantown, WI on August 13, 2013:
This is one of my all time favorite movies! I knew only about half of these people were in the movie so thanks for informing me on the others. Great hub!
Leah Kennedy-Jangraw from Massachusetts on August 07, 2013:
One of the things I love about re-watching a movie I haven't seen in a few years is picking out the now more famous minor characters, great idea to turn it into a hub. Also I absolutely love Almost Famous- I knew of some of the ones on your list but not all of them.
Selina Kyle on June 06, 2013:
This makes me want to go watch the movie again! Great list- I had no idea most of those were in the movie- probably because I had no idea who they were last time I watched it lol
Kevina Oyatedor on May 17, 2013:
I did not know that Rainn Wilson, Jay Baruchel, Kyle Glass and Eric Stonestreet were in the movie. Those are my favorite actors and Kyle Glass is part of Tenacious D. The only people I noticed were Jimmy Fallon, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Fariza Balk and Jason Lee. Great hub.
Jean Bakula from New Jersey on April 10, 2013:
I love that movie, it makes me feel nostalgic in a good way, especially the part when they are all on the bus and start to sing Tiny Dancer! I never realized Peter Frampton and so many famous people were in it though. Gee, I know what I want to watch later!
Karen (author) from Salem, OR on April 10, 2013:
They sure did a great job hiding Fallon under all that 70s facial hair and wardrobe, but I guess since they list his name in the opening credits, I was kind of expecting him somewhere. One of my favorite lines is when he says, "If you think Mick Jagger is gonna be out there tryin' to be a rock star at age 50, you're sadly, sadly mistaken." Priceless.
Open Thoughts from Idaho on April 10, 2013:
This movie is really good. Not sure just how long it took me to realize Jimmy Fallon was in it.