There is almost nothing cooler or more validating than seeing yourself on screen – and I don’t mean that literally – I’m not an actor, nor do I have any desire to be. And I don’t mean what “Sex and the City” character you are either – each one of them is a stereotype for a reason. Yes, it’s fun to establish who’s who in your group of girlfriends, but chances are you don’t closely relate to one of them on a deep and personal level. Maybe I’m just speaking for myself, but I don’t know anyone in New York who writes magazine articles for a living and has a closet that big.
I mean a character whose personality matches yours, or who has the same hopes and dreams, or similar mannerisms or way of speaking. Maybe you’re good at the same things or worship the same people. To identify with a character so profoundly as to “see yourself” in a movie is pretty amazing.
For me, one of those characters is William Miller.
William Miller, or “The Enemy” as he is affectionately nicknamed, is the protagonist of a little film called “Almost Famous.” Part of the reason I have such love for this film is because it’s just a really good story. Masterfully written by Cameron Crowe, the characters, the dialogue, and the flow of the scenes all work together beautifully. There is no weak point. “Almost Famous” is as funny as it is touching and earned Crowe an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
That the character of William Miller was written with such tenderness and given the time of day by the screenwriter makes a big difference in my ability to connect with the character. But how do I relate to a 15-year-old aspiring rock journalist growing up in 1970s California being raised by a tough-love hippie professor mom, you might ask?
William, like me, is a young aspiring writer who is sweet (but would vehemently deny it when accused of being so), and smart, and has an overbearing mother (though not to the extent that Frances McDormand took it).
William loves music and worships the musicians, but he isn’t a musician himself. He just wants to play with the big boys. I’m the exact same way about film. I love movies, and I worship the filmmakers and actors who bring them to life, but I’m not an actor, and it is highly likely that I’ll never be a director. But I too, wish to be among the Hollywood greats. To observe and learn from the masters, and just maybe become one myself. That’s wishful thinking yes, but that’s what movie magic does to people like me.
Most of all, I am bright-eyed and naive, just like William. I still believe in those greats of Hollywood despite the corruption and misogyny and discrimination and scandal. I’m earnest and passionate, and no matter what, I’ll always love the actors and directors and creatives that I look up to, just like William and his rock musicians.
Why? Because just the same way William can appreciate each band member and their music, I can appreciate the way creatives fit into making a movie. And we both so desperately want to play a role in our heroes’ lives.
Now, if you haven’t seen “Almost Famous,” this blog probably made no sense. If that’s you, I highly recommend you remedy that situation. I promise it’s worth it.