Over 20 years after the film’s release, the character of Penny Lane continues to attract admirers and is considered to be Kate Hudson’s breakout role. Her poignant performance landed Hudson an Academy Award nomination and won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress. In a 2020 interview with Independent, Cameron Crowe declared that “Kate was magic” and “lit up the room.”
While Hudson told Independent that Penny Lane was inspired by “an amalgamation of women,” it was famous rock groupie Pamela De Barres that primarily influenced Crowe. Donning a similar bright smile and curly hair, De Barres romanced legends like Frank Zappa, Jimmy Page, Jim Morrison, and Keith Moon. She detailed her experiences in her 1987 memoir, “I’m with the Band: Confessions of a Groupie.” De Barres is well-aware of her influence on the film, but is not a huge fan. In a 2020 interview with Vulture, she complained that Lane “was not owning herself, not owning groupiedom and what it actually means.” While she doesn’t hate the movie, De Barres felt upset that Lane was “stolen” and her character was “ripped off” from her since she was not a consultant on the film.
Hudson also studied the real Penny Lane aka Pennie Trumbull, who was known for forming a group of band promoters called the Flying Garter Girls Group. Each of the girls had nicknames similar to the band-aide crew in “Almost Famous,” which consisted of Polexia Aphrodisia (Anna Paquin), Sapphire (Fairuza Balk), and Estrella Starr (Bijou Phillips). “I chatted with so many wives of the rock stars of that time. It was a wild time, and the rules were very different. [Penny] sort of captured the freedom and free love and living a nomadic g**** lifestyle in the world of rock’n’roll,” Hudson told Independent.