Is the Netflix Film 'I Used to Be Famous' Based on a True Story?

Katherine Stinson - Author

Aug. 15 2022, Published 3:54 p.m. ET

Vince (Ed Skrein)
Source: Sanja Bucko/Netflix

How does one find purpose after fame? That's the question posed by the upcoming Netflix film I Used to Be Famous.

Vince (Ed Skrein) is determined to find success as a solo artist after fronting as the lead singer of a boy band. His attitude toward music changes when he meets Stevie (Leo Long). Stevie is an autistic teenager who has a passion for percussion, and a pure love of all things musical. Viewers now want to know: Is I Used to be Famous based on a true story?

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Although I Used to Be Famous isn't based on any particular singing star's life, the film was inspired by one real-life musician. Who inspired the character of Stevie? Read on to find out!

(L-R) Stevie (Leo Long) and Vince (Ed Skrein)

Vince still has a lot to learn about music.

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Is Netflix's 'I Used to Be Famous' based on a true story?

The I Used to Be Famous director Eddie Sternberg told Variety that his own cousin, Saul Zur-Szpiro actually inspired Stevie's character. Saul is autistic. When he was younger he was highly agoraphobic and didn't like crowds — but he did love the drums.

Thanks to the support of his family, Saul helped found the band The AutistiX in 2010. Per the same Variety report, Tom Jones himself even joined the band onstage during a charity concert.

Eddie told Variety that, "By picking up drumsticks, Saul – who was agoraphobic, didn’t like going out, didn’t like crowds – suddenly, through music got this power to perform in front of 1,000 people. It gives me shivers talking about it. So I thought that was music in its purest form. When you watch Saul perform, it’s just pure enjoyment, there’s no ego attached to it. Whereas with Vince, it’s all ego, and it’s all manufactured."

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When does 'I Used to Be Famous' drop on Netflix?

Leo himself is neurodiverse. Per the same Variety report, the filmmaking team worked with the National Autistic Society and Access All Areas to ensure that Leo, a newcomer in the acting arena, felt comfortable during filming. Leo's IMDb page notes that the actor strives to "make the music and film industries more people-friendly for disabled musicians."

The actor is also a talented musician, having performed with the London Youth Folk Ensemble and the National Open Youth Orchestra.

The film will initially premiere in select U.K. theaters on Sept. 9, 2022. Netflix subscribers can stream I Used to Be Famous on Sept. 16, 2022.

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