He read with Natalie Portman, who wouldn’t have been more than 19 years old at the time. In the end, it was Kate Hudson who scored the role of Penny Lane – she is two years older than Portman and Billy Crudup, who is five years younger than Pitt. Another “almost” was for the part of William’s mother Elaine, who is played by Frances McDormand in the film. It turns out Meryl Streep was up for that role. Whoa!