Sarah Polley was nearly Penny Lane and more hot goss from the 'Almost Famous' podcast

A new five-part pod that celebrates the iconic film drops today.
July 8, 2020 7:44 a.m. EST
July 8, 2020 2:15 p.m. EST
In the early 1970s, a 16-year-old Cameron Crowe spent three weeks touring Japan with The Allman Brothers, and the teen rock journalist went on to became a frequent contributor to Rolling Stone magazine and later used his experiences on the road with other major rock acts of the 1970s as the inspiration for his Oscar-winning 2000 film Almost Famous. Just as Crowe’s iconic coming-of-age film acts as a love letter to music, the new podcast Origins: Almost Famous Turns Twenty is a love letter to the fan favourite film.As the latest chapter in host James Andrew Miller’s Origins series, made in collaboration with Cadence13, Almost Famous Turns Twenty is a new five-part series that features interviews with Crowe, as well as the core cast, including Kate Hudson, Jimmy Fallon, Patrick Fugit, Frances McDormand, Billy Crudup, Zooey Deschanel, Jason Lee and more. Casting director Gail Levin as well as musicians Peter Frampton and Nancy Wilson also provide never-before-heard commentary on the casting, filming and enduring legacy of the film, which continues to be the benchmark for music-centric films two decades after its release and just as rewatchable.[video_embed id='5430453417001']RELATED: Kate Hudson and Danny Fujikawa make it red carpet official[/video_embed]All five episodes of Almost Famous Turns Twenty were released today and in the first episode, Miller shares new interviews with the cast to reveal the mainly untold story of how the beloved group came together. The actors spoke to Miller about what it meant to be in a Cameron Crowe film and attributed the magic between the actors to Crowe’s intimate auditions and casting director Gail Levin’s impeccable eye. Crowe and Levin also discussed the cast that could have been, including the four months Brad Pitt spent working with Crowe to perfect the part of Stillwater guitarist Russell Hammond and how Sarah Polley was almost nearly Penny Lane. While it’s difficult to think of anyone other than the Morning Show alum as Russell, it feels almost impossible to picture anyone but Kate Hudson as ultimate fan Penny. Like Pitt, Polley spent months attached to the film as the famous Band Aid before quickly exiting stage left. Polley, who also bore a resemblance to the real Pennie Lane, had a soulful approach to the character that Crowe loved. But after speaking to friends who cautioned her against doing a big studio film, arguing that the DreamWorks picture could be detrimental to her career as an indie artist, Polley backed out. “Losing Sarah Polley, it was where I got really unnerved,” Crowe told Miller.Following Polley’s exit, Hudson, who had already been cast as William’s sister Anita, a role that would go on to be played by Zooey Deschanel, petitioned for the role of the enigmatic Penny Lane. Natalie Portman had already auditioned for the role, but Hudson was persistent. Speaking to Miller about her love for the character, Hudson revealed that she turned down several major starring roles to wait for Crowe to begin filming. For her loyalty and her captivating performance, Hudson was rewarded with a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress.
Hudson may be the daughter of Hollywood royalty, but at the time of her casting in Almost Famous, she only had a few movie roles under her belt. That was still more than Jimmy Fallon, who had just recently joined the cast of SNL in 1998 and had yet to appear in a feature film. In his short time on late night, the comedian made an impact on Crowe, who wanted Fallon for the role of manager Dennis Hope. Still, the comedian had made an impact on Crowe, who wanted Fallon for the role of manager Dennis Hope. For Fallon, working with the writer and director of Say Anything was a childhood dream come true. “When I found out I got this role I called my sister,” said Fallon. “We were in tears.”Fallon and Hudson, along with the rest of the cast, quickly bonded on set. At some points during filming the actors even occasionally dipped into the rockstar lifestyle IRL. Speaking to Miller, Hudson remembers drinking with Fallon, Crudup and Lee the night before she was scheduled to shoot a pivotal scene for Penny Lane. All five episodes of James Andrew Miller and Cadence13’s series Origins: Almost Famous Turns Twenty are available now.[video_embed id='1990971']BEFORE YOU GO: Brad Pitt lands a new role as a hitman named Ladybug[/video_embed]

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