MEMORIES OF PLAYING THE YOUNG WILLIAM MILLER IN "ALMOST FAMOUS"
This one goes out to @samboyd 😉
- •I ended up auditioning five separate times for this. The first audition was with Gail Levin, the casting director, then a call back with Cameron Crowe, the director - both took place in NYC. The others were 3-4 hour long work sessions with an acting coach that took place in LACameron Crowe loved me, but felt like I was giving the character "too much Michael and not enough William Miller." In retrospect, I get it - I was a little Staten Island kid actor who couldn't pronounce his r's and I was meant to be playing this shy, repressed kid. It came to a head when they asked me to come back and do a fourth work session - which we ended up saying no to. After they continued auditioning other boys for a month, they finally offered me the part.
- •During one of these marathon work sessions, my mother was waiting for me in the hallway......and got so frustrated at one point that she grabbed the young, shaggy haired intern looking guy that was walking in and out of the room and said to him, "Can you please tell me what the fuck they are doing in there with my son. This is getting ridiculous, we got places to be." That young, shaggy haired intern looking guy was the director Cameron Crowe. His reply was, "We're stripping Michael of Michael."
- •Even though I'm only in the first five minutes of the movie, I worked on the movie for five months. (It was a nine month long shoot)There was a looooong rehearsal process - something like three months. All of my rehearsal time was spent with Patrick Fugit, the older William Miller, who was fifteen at the time. They wanted us to share a lot of similar traits and qualities - as characters and actors. The little hand gesture was one of those traits found in this process.
- •Patrick and I became obsessed with fingerboards, the mini-skateboards you rode with your fingers.
- •Kate Hudson, who was 21 at the time, was really sweet to me and would play with me all the time. She said she grew up with boys so this was normal for her.She was also incredibly sexy, and I remember one day in particular when she was wearing a Penny Lane-ish tank top with no bra, white jeans and a bright yellow thong. I remember this so well because that day my grandpa and my dad were on set. Kate and I were throwing a football back and forth, and she bent over to pick the ball up. All three generations of the Angarano men shamelessly checked out her ass at the same time. It was a nice moment for us.
- •Cameron would play the real music during scenes.Whenever you hear music in the movie, it was really played on set. This is incredibly rare and amazing - particularly because of the kind of music we were listening to. Once I saw Patrick do a scene that ended up getting cut, where he had to leave the house and run down the street. It was a big crane shot. Cameron had his associate producer hold a boom box, ala "Say Anything" and Baba O'Riley was playing from it. Young me's mind was blown by how cool this was.
- •I almost made Zooey Deschanel puke.Right before our super tight close ups where she has to say, "One day you will be cool." I just ate a drumstick and said hey do you like seafood?! See. Food. I was very amused. She actually didn't take it that well.
- •I hung out with Billy Crudup in his trailer.Patrick brought me to hang out with Billy while he practiced guitar. This might have been my first heterosexual mancrush.
- •Frances McDormand was amazing.To have been lucky enough to work with an actress/person like her at that age is truly one of the fortunate things of my life. She's a role model in every way. I also remember thinking her husband was very strange (Ethan Cohen).
- •The scene of me flipping through records took two months to film.We reshot this at least four times. Cameron kept adding new records and wanted me to handle each one very specifically.
- •"Eleven!"We were shooting this scene all day long on a big car rig. We shot everyone else's coverage and I had about a half hour till I had to be wrapped. We did it a couple of times, I could tell Cameron wasn't feeling it. We have less than ten minutes now - crunch time. He comes over to me and says "Michael. I'm gonna give you direction that I've never given anyone before. And I will never give anyone it again, because it's bad direction.... make it funny."