Dazzling Performances to Gild the Résumés
Christian McKay | Me and Orson Welles
By KAREN DURBIN
Christian McKay takes on an unusual challenge by playing a title role in Richard Linklater’s period love letter, “Me and Orson Welles” (Nov. 25). No, not Me — that’s Zac Efron’s part as Richard, a tyro who charms his way into a bit part in Welles’s 1937 Mercury Theater production of “Julius Caesar” in New York.
Mr. McKay (rhymes with high) plays Welles, which he has done before, in Mark Jenkins’s one-man stage play “Rosebud: The Lives of Orson Welles.” But while the large gestures and emphatic diction of the stage are well suited to portraying such an outsize character, they are often calamitous onscreen. In only his second film role, Mr. McKay, who is English, makes the transition beautifully.
Welles was 22 when he mounted Shakespeare’s “Caesar,” and his genius was just starting to be recognized. (He made the cover of Time magazine the following year.) In the film he cuts a dashing figure, displaying the confidence of an older, much more established artist. He’s performing the self he wants to be. Mr. McKay captures the doubleness of that, keeping Welles at once theatrical and real, never dominating a scene except when Welles himself is making one. He also gives him a watchful, assessing and subtly excited gaze that makes him thrilling and a little dangerous.
Much of Mr. McKay’s performance takes place on his smooth, temporarily Wellesian features. His Orson is a wily enchanter who can talk people into and out of just about anything. “You’re what I call a God-created actor,” he tells Richard with such grave sincerity that you could believe he means it if he didn’t say the same thing to other cast members. Elsewhere Welles’s eyes harden into something ugly as Mr. McKay shows us the smallness of a man determined to punish anyone who challenges his ego.
But just when it’s tempting to write Welles off as a bully, there is a scene in which he flatters, cajoles and beseeches his flagging cast and crew to give it one more run-through, and Mr. McKay delivers this lengthy exhortation with such seductive power and full-bore charm that for a dizzying minute you may find yourself wishing that you too could follow him anywhere.
The Victoria Times Colonist discusses Charlie St. Cloud scouting in Victoria and some photographs that will be used in scenes in Charlie's cottage and a cafe.
'Eyes of Swiftsure' going Hollywood
Dean of marine shutterbugs will have work on movie set
By MICHAEL D. REID, Times Colonist
Not long ago, a Universal Pictures crew quietly scouted Victoria as a location for a yachting drama starring Zac Efron.
Sorry, tweens, but our ship didn't come in. The High School Musical star is instead filming The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud in Vancouver, opposite Kim Basinger and Amanda Crew, but Victoria isn't completely out of the picture.
That's why local real estate agent John McVie is smiling this week. Wind and Wave, a colourful calendar showcasing sailing photographs taken by his late father, James A. McVie -- "the eyes of Swiftsure" -- is being featured, specifically in the main character's cottage and in an east coast village café.
"If my dad were alive today he'd be thrilled," says McVie, whose father was known as the dean of Canadian marine photographers, a shutterbug who photographed yachting regattas from Swiftsure to the Admirals Cup for 47 years.
Directed by Burr Steers, who also helmed Efron's last movie 17 Again, the movie stars Efron, 21, as Charlie, a grief-stricken New England cemetery caretaker who has a bond with the spirit of his younger brother, who died in a car crash that Charlie survived. Guilt-ridden, Charlie gives up sailing and "meets" his brother nightly to talk and play catch.
Complications ensue when Charlie meets Tess Carroll, an adventurous young woman who plans a solo round-the-world sailing trip. Her life-changing ambition figures prominently in the meditation on love, loss and healing.
For the past six years, Wyman Publishing Ltd. has released the commemorative calendar celebrating the yachting life through McVie's vibrant images. To the delight of his son, the calendar caught the attention of the Universal film's set decorator, and McVie didn't have to think twice when they asked him to sign a clearance authorization.
"It's because the movie is all about yachting," McVie said. "It was a real hobby for my dad, so here's a sliver of his life."
Although McVie realizes there's no guarantee, all he asked for was a mention of his father's name in the credits.
His dad was less a fan of Hollywood boating movies, he says, than watching international competitions.
"He had a great interest in watching every single America's Cup on TV," he said. "They'd be the most compelling things to watch, and he'd always be rooting for Australia and New Zealand as opposed to the U.S."
Seeking permission to use reproductions of photographs or art works is standard practice, says Terry Lewis, a film industry set decorator whose credits include Snow Falling on Cedars and Seven Deadly Sins, the Lifetime miniseries filming here.
"You're asking for trouble if you put an original work of art on a film set and don't have a clearance form," says Lewis, whose challenges on Seven Deadly Sins have included getting clearance for the use of rock posters in teenagers' bedrooms.
If a show and the studio or network is big enough, he says, hiring a person to do clearances is essential.
"It can be as inane as candy bars on a shelf, where you have to rotate candy bars so you don't see the names, but that's an extreme example," he says. "You could have an actor standing in front of it delivering a line, so you have to be careful."
While McVie was tickled his dad's calendar is making its film debut, Lewis says that's not always the case.
"We do great shows here, so people don't have to worry about it, but you don't necessarily want that painting your mom did of the childhood home appearing in I Drink Your Blood 7."
Although the Efron flick went to Vancouver, the producers were so intrigued by our scenic assets they came over twice.
"We scouted everywhere from Brentwood to along the coastline to Nanaimo," former Victoria film commissioner Rod Hardy says.
He says Steers was "blown away" by the Royal Victoria Yacht Club and several youths on racing skiffs he met there.
"He talked to them for 45 minutes and couldn't believe how nice they were."