In a new interview on its 20th anniversary, Cameron Crowe and Billy Crudup discuss the iconic ‘I am a golden god’ scene
There’s a standout scene in Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous where Russell Hammond, the lead guitarist of fictional 70s rock band Stillwater, is standing on the roof of a fan’s house on acid, screaming: “I am a golden god! And you can tell Rolling Stone that my last words were… I’m on drugs!”
According to a recent oral history in the New York Times, the scene was taken directly from Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant, who first said the line while standing on the balcony of the Riot House on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood in 1975.
“When I was writing it, I was thinking, I love the playful relationship Plant had with his own image,” said Crowe. “Sometimes he would wear a Robert Plant fan t-shirt that someone had thrown onstage. He just had a wonderful sense of humor about his position as a big-time rock star.”
“The reason Robert Plant said it was because he had long, golden hair. Because my hair is brown, I wasn’t making that connection at all. I was just imagining that Russell was thinking of himself as some sort of tribal idol,” explained Billy Crudup, who played Russell.
Speaking of his character, Crudup added: “What it took was an acid trip for him to expose this childlike experience of being a rock god.”
Crowe also recalled the moment he first showed the scene to Plant, saying: “We sat in the screening room with Page and Plant for a while. And one of the first things was, Robert Plant said, ‘Wow, so many memories.’ He said, ‘I have a bottle of quaaludes from the early 1970s that is ornamental on a shelf. I think I’m going to go home and open it up tonight.’”
He added: “That was when I felt like ‘I’m a golden god’ found its rightful home and went back to its creator. I often think of Robert Plant himself dialoguing with the movie when I see that scene.”
“Life became the movie, which became life, which became the movie,” he concluded.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Almost Famous, the original cast and crew have reunited for a special five-part anniversary podcast – here’s six things we learned.
Watch the iconic scene below.