The late Philip Seymour Hoffman gave one of the most memorable performances of his career as rock critic and truth teller Lester Bangs in Cameron Crowe's "Almost Famous." An autobiographical recounting of Crowe's own experiences as a teen journalist on tour with Allman Brothers Band, Led Zeppelin, and Lynyrd Skynyrd, the film follows a wide-eyed writer named William Miller (Patrick Fugit) who finds a new home on the traveling bus of the fictional band Stillwater during the spring of 1973. Bangs never joins them on the road, but he does become the spiritual and moral compass for William, spouting out brilliant bits of wisdom over the phone to help the young scribe avoid the allure of an "industry of cool."

The real Lester Bangs was considered one of the most important voices in music criticism until his untimely death at the age of 33. His incendiary reviews for Rolling Stone and Creem magazine contained a new, fresh voice that was intellectually honest and unafraid of railing against the powers that be. Bangs's writing made the subversive counterculture seem even more important to a generation of youths that elevated the music of the times and apotheosized the musicians that played it.

Bangs was brutally honest. Apparently, Hoffman also demanded a real sense of truth from Fugit — his inexperienced screen partner — who was expected to match the acting intensity of one of the all-time greats. When Fugit was asked if he was ever intimidated by Hoffman in an interview with Observer for the film's 20th anniversary, the now veteran actor remembered some harmless badgering from Hoffman that never cut too deep thanks to Fugit's upbringing.

'You Have To Make Your Reputation On Being Honest And Unmerciful'

Hoffman honed his skills on stage and led the off-Broadway LAByrinth Theater Company for years while still appearing in countless films. His limited screen time as Lester Bangs in "Almost Famous" didn't effect his ability to make a huge impact on the film. When Fugit recalled the dynamic between the two, he recalled Hoffman giving him grief for not doing enough plays, but he also strangely credited the world of ballet for helping him stand his ground, telling Observer:

"My mom is a no-s*** master level ballet teacher, so we took ballet whether we wanted to or not. That is a very pressurized environment and it is very demanding. And so I had become sort of used to a creative environment that was very demanding of me, so I was never off-put by Philip's professional intensity."

To Hoffman, if you didn't come from the stage, you hadn't proved your mettle as a performer yet. "He would rib me and give me s*** because I was so lucky," Fugit said. The conversation Fugit recalled sounds like a warm up for the on-screen meeting Lester Bands and William have at a quiet diner in "Almost Famous":

"He would be like, 'You're 16, what theater have you done?' and I was like, 'I went to theater school.' He would say, 'No, what plays?' and I would list off all these summer program plays and s***. And he was like, 'OK, so nothing legitimate.'"

For all the ribbing, Hoffman was still a consummate professional. "He would give me s***, but he was very kind to me in regards to being supported. It's not like he's going to leave me hanging or anything like that," Fugit clarified. Whatever dynamic Hoffman and Fugit had before the cameras rolled definitely came across in the playful chemistry they have together in the finished film. Unfortunately, based on /Film's review by Caroline Cao of the new "Almost Famous" Broadway musical, it doesn't sound like the actors on stage portraying Bangs and William had quite the same spark.

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The post How Philip Seymour Hoffman Would 'Rib' Patrick Fugit On The Set For Almost Famous appeared first on /Film.