If you’re like us, you swooned over the nostalgic vibe, the dreamy soundtrack, and the breakout cast (Kate Hudson!) of Almost Famous when it premiered in 2000. Now, 16 years later, the film’s director, Cameron Crowe is bringing his deep music industry knowledge, and his same whimsical style to the small screen with Showtime’s new dramedy Roadies.
The show follows an ensemble cast of, you guessed it, roadies touring with an arena-level band. Led by stars Carla Gugino, Luke Wilson, and Imogen Poots, the motley, behind-the-scenes crew experiences the highs and lows of life on the road, complete with tour buses and sound stages across the country. (Each episode actually takes place in a different city stop on the fictional The Staton-House Band’s tour).
“These are people who are truly there to serve that band and to make that hour and a half of concert magic happen. And the truth is if they do their job right, they’re invisible,” Gugino said of the show’s real life-inspired characters. We recently sat down with Gugino and Poots to chat about the show and its on-set magic. Because, at its heart, Roadies is about family—the kind you create, or perhaps just stumble into—and Gugino and Poots know that all too well.
“It is quite interesting how life and art start to imitate one another,” Poots said of working long hours with her Roadies cast mates. “You’re around these people all the time and boundaries immediately start to disintegrate.”
“We’ve sort of become the different limbs of each other or something,” Gugino agreed with a laugh.
On the show, Gugino plays Shelli, a production manager for The Staton-House Band, who sees a bit of herself in Poots’ Kelly Ann, a wide-eyed electrical tech who has a habit of crossing boundaries too. Gugino and Poots, along with Wilson, are often caught picking up the pieces from humorous backstage disasters, all the while, helming the show with a frankness that is at times disarming and heartfelt.
The women shared a few behind-the-scenes secrets with us, including the dish on what Luke Wilson is really like when the cameras are off, and their own musical inspirations.
There’s a true authenticity to the show, which often draws upon Cameron Crowe’s personal experiences.
Gugino: It’s exciting to be on something where the authenticity is really valued. A couple of my musician friends have said they haven’t seen another show that captures the whimsical odd magical nature of what it is to put on a tour.
Poots: A hundred percent. And the claustrophobia and the magic behind it. Cameron Crowe is about authenticity. As nice as he is, he’s also extraordinarily smart.
Gugino: The show is an extension of Cameron in every way, in the way of what Imogen is saying in regard to how smart he is, and also how authentic he is, and funny he is, and how he has this like really boyish, un-jaded look at life. The most personal is the most universal. I don’t have a huge amount of experience backstage in a tour across the country with a rock and roll band, but when I read that script I was like, “I really relate to these people.” Because you realize we all want the same things in life. We want to be loved, we want to be seen, we want to succeed.
One of the interesting things about the show is that we’re never actually going to see The Staton-House Band perform, although we will see musical guest stars, so the series is truly about the people behind the scenes.
Gugino: Being on sets, being an actor and knowing how many people are there to support you and make that magic happen when that camera starts to roll. I feel like it’s such a great thing to be able to play one of them and sort of give back in that way. Also, I always marvel at that sort of circus-like family backstage—you’re in it together.
What’s it like working with Luke Wilson?
Poots: With Luke, I just really love being next to him because he’s very sensitive and also has this wonderful sense of humor. He reminds me of that kind of James Stewart-esque guy. I mean, he’s so attractive and yet he’s a complete goofball at heart.
Gugino: It’s so fun to act with Luke because we have completely different energies–I speak very quickly, he speaks more slowly, you know, he has this really great Southern wit—and for some reason our different energies really do come together in a fun way.
Music is really the other character in the show. How has music played a role in your own life?
Poots: It’s played a dangerously large role in that you could occasionally say I could do without other humans. The Smiths were a very important band for me when I was a teenager. I have very pleasurable memories of just being in the library writing essays and listening to The Smiths on repeat. Leonard Cohen, I fall asleep to him every night. I love Blondie a lot. I think Pavement is an amazing band.
Gugino: Music has shaped my life in such a massive way, as I’m sure it has for most of us. I make playlists for characters that I play and movies that I do. I have many favorites and they do change although I will say that there’s something about Cat Power that at any moment if I’m not sure what I want to listen to that’s always the go-to.
Roadies premieres June 26 on Showtime.