Netflix’s I Used to be Famous follows a former pop star, Vince (Ed Skrein), who is desperate to make a name for himself in the industry once again. He eventually runs into a talented drummer named Stevie (Leo Long) and the duo starts working on music that might get them recognition.
I Used to be Famous starts by introducing a famous UK boy band from the early 2000s named Stereo Dream. The group of five is led by Vince AKA Vinnie D and Austin Roberts. The plot then cuts to 20 years later where Vince is now a washed-up nobody who struggles to make ends meet.
He lives in Peckham, London and we see him go from bars to restaurants, hoping to get a live performance gig, with some new music he’s been working on. Unfortunately, nobody really pays attention to his stuff.
While busking on the streets one day, he has an impromptu jam session with a talented drummer named Stevie, who is on the autism spectrum. The mini performance is enjoyed by the locals and some even record it.
Before Vince can speak to the boy properly, his mother, Amber, takes him away. Meanwhile, we also see that Austin never fell off the wagon and is a famous musician who is planning his farewell tour.
After another series of unsuccessful attempts to get a gig, Vince hears the sound of drums being played nearby. He ventures into a local church and notices a class of musical therapy for people with special needs. Incidentally, Stevie and his mom are part of the group too.
The coordinator Dia invites Vince to join the group and this is where he starts getting to know Stevie. Later, Vince gets a call from his mother asking if he’ll visit for his brother Ted’s birthday.
Back at home, Vince looks at old footage from his childhood when he gifted his brother a harmonica. The next day, as Vince walks through the street where he usually performs, a local shop keeper shows him the video of him playing with Stevie.
Seeing that it has almost 100,000 views, he rushes to a famous pub nearby and books a gig. Now the next step is to convince Stevie and Amber for the same.
At the music group, he shows Stevie the video and he agrees to play with him. He does show slight discomfort at the thought of performing in front of people and loud noises but goes with it. Amber, on the other hand, is outraged at the idea and leaves with her son.
Not willing to give up, Vince finds their address from the church office and goes to see Stevie. Before Amber can yell at him, her son lies that he invited Vince for tea.
This is when Vince reveals that he was in Stereo Dream and realises that Amber used to be a dancer (from a picture). Vince also reveals that his brother Ted died many years ago.
The topic of the gig arises and an argument begins. As they go back and forth about it, Stevie has a panic attack and Amber rushes to get his drumsticks as they soothe him. However, Vince manages to calm Stevie down by playing beats with his hands and seeing this, Amber agrees to the gig.
I Used to be Famous ending explained in detail:
What happens at the gig?
The duo starts rehearsing and Vince goes to meet Austin at his studio, inviting him for the pub performance. The big night finally arrives and they reach the place just in time for their set.
The pub’s manager calls them ‘The Tin Men’ and their first few songs are received extremely well. However, as the show goes on, a few hecklers decide to bother Stevie. As his condition starts getting the better of him, Vince gets into a fight with one of the trouble makers which leads to him being thrown out of the building.
Vince is badly bruised but is surprised to see that Austin actually showed up. As he tries to help his old friend, Vince tells Austin to go away, mocking that he doesn’t want his help like last time, hinting at bitter history.
He then heads back to Stevie’s place where Amber unleashes on him for endangering her son. Vince retaliates by saying that Stevie has talent and if she keeps him locked up, he’ll never reach his true potential.
Not wanting to hear another word, Amber kicks Vince out and tells him to stay out of their lives.
What happened to Ted?
A distraught Vince heads home and smashes stuff to let out his anger. He then notices that he’s messed up old recordings of his brother as he watches them.
Through broken-up snippets of the footage and flashbacks, we get to know that Ted was sick and passed away in the hospital while Vince was on tour with Stereo Dream. The guilt of not being there for his brother’s last breath has since plagued him.
Vince travels back to his hometown to meet his mother and asks for the harmonica that he gifted Ted all those years ago. She cries and tells him that she doesn’t know where it is.
How does Stevie change?
Back in London, Stevie’s behaviour starts changing and he demands that Amber let him do things by himself as he’s not a kid anymore. He prints flyers for The Tin Men and goes out looking for gigs, eventually managing to secure one.
He calls up Vince (who is on his way back to London) and lets him know that they’re playing despite his protests. A few days later, Vince meets Stevie and Amber outside the church and apologises.
During the music class, Dia lets Vince lead and he shows his natural skills in teaching and musical therapy. Later, Dia offers him to take over the class in the near future.
Does Vince get his big break?
Austin comes across The Tin Men’s video from the pub and is impressed by it. As Vince feels happy about getting the offer from Dia, he is ecstatic when Austin invites him to be a part of his farewell tour. He goes and tells Stevie about it but there is an unfortunate twist.
Austin’s producer Dennis (who Vince knows from Stereo Dream days) informs him that they only want him for the tour and not the special needs kid.
Vince agrees but is devastated when he lets his young friend know of the development. Fortunately, Stevie is positive about it and encourages Vince to go through with it as he won’t get a third shot.
Do The Tin Men get back together?
Stevie starts practicing drums more vigorously and Vince prepares for the tour. He gets a package from his mom which contains Ted’s harmonica and finally visits his grave.
Meanwhile, Stevie starts focusing on musical education and applies to The Royal Central School of Music. He goes on an introductory trip to the school by himself and Amber gets back into dancing again.
She is happy seeing her son taking huge strides in life and goes to visit Vince. She admits that she was holding Stevie back and is happy that he’s changing, all thanks to Vince.
However, she also explains that Vince needs to stay out of her son’s life now as he cannot have his head filled with false promises at this critical stage. Vince is devastated as this means he won’t be able to see Stevie on his birthday.
At the studio, Dennis gives Vince some papers to sign as part of the tour and asserts creative authority over his tracks. He notices Austin and Dennis argue in the next room and the screen cuts to black (we don’t see if Vince signed the document or not).
The scene then cuts to Stevie’ birthday dinner. As the mom and son duo starts walking back home, they notice signs guiding them to the same place where Vince and Stevie first jammed.
There, they notice a mini concert set-up with a stage, fairy lights and drinks. Vince apologises for everything that has gone wrong and plays a song for Stevie after wishing him a happy birthday. He also involves a bunch of other street musicians and friends from the therapy group.
Stevie joins Vince on stage and they play together for a small group of locals who gather to enjoy the performance of The Tin Men.
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