Study Guide

Almost Famous Coming of Age

Coming of Age

ELAINE: I skipped you an extra grade. You're eleven.
WILLIAM: Eleven?

Well, that's a rude awakening if we've ever heard of one. We know that William is a precocious kid, but this is still pretty devastating news for little prepubescent William. Why does Elaine want him to grow up so quickly?

ANITA: Look under your bed. It will set you free.

Given his immense passion for rock and roll, we cannot understate the impact of Anita's record collection on William's development. From this moment on, his path is set.

LESTER: You'll meet them all again on the long journey to the middle.

As a seasoned rock journalist, Lester's take on life is pretty cynical. This initial conversation marks the beginning of his mentorship of the young, naive William. What would have happened to William without Lester's guidance?

ELAINE: Don't take drugs!

Elaine's motherly quip appears again in a note passed on by the concierge at the Tempe hotel—played hilariously by Eric Stonestreet, now famous for his role as Cam in Modern Family.

WILLIAM: Actually I'm sixteen.
PENNY LANE: Me too. Isn't it funny? The truth just sounds different.
WILLIAM: I'm fifteen.

William reveals his true age to Penny pretty much from the get-go. It turns out Penny isn't much older than he is... but the world of rock and roll sure makes them grow up quickly.

WILLLIAM: How 'bout Stillwater?

Doing his darnedest to put on his grown-man-voice on the phone for Ben Fong-Torres, William tries valiantly to seem older than he is. When Ben finally meets the 15-year-old William in person in the Rolling Stone offices at the end of the film, all he can do is laugh.

RUSSELL: When did you get so professional?

William finally corners Russell and surprises him with a series of sophisticated questions about life, love, and music. The fact that William is not taken seriously by the band—or by Penny Lane—begins to weigh on him.

WILLIAM: Sweet? Where do you get off? Where do you get sweet? I am dark and mysterious and pissed off, and I could be very dangerous to all of you… I am the enemy!

In love with Penny and frustrated by the fact that no one takes him seriously, William finally loses his temper. He realizes that he has a certain amount of power as a rock critic, and he finally threatens to use it.

William, hopelessly in love, watches as Penny gets her stomach pumped to the tune of "My Cherie Amour" by Stevie Wonder.

He can't even legally drive, but William has already saved someone's life. For all her overprotectiveness, maybe Elaine is sort of right about some things. This is a tough situation for anyone to be let, let alone a couple of teenagers.