Times Herald Record Coverage
A couple of pics from the Maverick Award Ceremony, full gallery
The Inside Scoop on finding Orson Welles
by Deborah Medenbach
Maverick Award winner Richard Linklater immediately optioned Robert Kaplow’s “Me and Orson Welles” book with his own money, already envisioning the kind of film it could turn out to be.
“But I wasn’t going to make it unless I could find a perfect Orson Welles,” Linklater said. Fate has a way of bringing things to our doorstep and it wasn’t long before word got to him about a one man show called “Rosebud” showing for a short run in a 50-seat theater in New York. The actor, Christian McKay, had all the nuances of Welles’ persona down pat.
“We flew him to LA for screen tests in traditional 1930s clothing,” producer John Sloss said. Afterward, McKay said “I guess you’ll be getting a big star for this role.”
“I put my arm around his shoulders very Cecile B. DeMille and said ‘We could find a big star, or we could make a big star.’ I think I scared the wits out of him,” Sloss said.
McKay turns in a performance Welles himself would be proud of.
“Me and Orson Wells” is based on the early life of actor Arthur Anderson of New York, who performed with Welles in a 1937 production of Ceasar. Anderson and Norman Lloyd are the only members of the original theater company still living.
Did the young Anderson continue with his theater career after his encounter with Welles and subsequent drubbing by his mentor?
Yes. He became the voice of the Lucky Charms Leprechaun. Magically delicious.
A few other reviews/twitters
From imdb maow boards:
Keither @ fredflare.com
Note: start with the left column...
These two are actually from a UK screening I believe, but I hadn't posted them yet...
imdb user-submitted review: motta80-2
Orson Welles is alive and well and residing in the body of British actor Christian McKay! McKay is simply stunning here as Welles - the look, the eye-brow, the mannerisms, the bounce, the voice - never have i seen Welles, as a character, better done. Many have tried few have succeeded (although i have a soft spot for Vincent D'Onofrio's Welles-cameo in Ed Wood.
The same can be said in general for Richard Linklater's film in terms of featuring Welles and using the whole "putting on a show" theatrical device. I didn't like Oliver Parker's Fade To Black with Danny Huston hamming Welles. RKO 281 was solid and Tim Robbins' Cradle Will Rock was a noble, if unsatisfyingly drear effort. Aided by McKay's towering achievement, a (mostly) superb supporting cast and a deft lightness Linklater has delivered his best film in years.
To my mind he can be hit (Dazed & Confused, Before Sunrise) and miss (A Scanner Darkly, Fast Food Nation), but this is firmly in the hit category.
Other non-Welles films, such as Kenneth Branagh's In The Bleak Mid-Winter, have failed in their attempts to have fun at "putting on a show" format because they are too in love with moments that have that "you just had to be there" element. Christopher Guest made a go of it in Waiting For Guffman, but then he was mocking the pretensions so many others embrace as part of the scene. Somehow McKay's (as Welles) enormous personality and Linklater's breezy "makes it look so easy" style make you feel like you are there in Me & Orson Welles and it works to great effect - tantalising the viewer with moments and flashes of the play to come without giving it to you until the right time. The 'Me' of the title really becomes the viewer. You are swept along me both filmmaker and Orson (and it really does feel like Orson. After a few moments i never doubted the Linklater had somehow resurrected Welles and saddled him with Zac Efron!) And this brings me the film's one real problem (and surely a marketing nightmare for the distributors!) Now i'm no Efron hater, i haven't seen any of the HSM movies, but he was fine in both Hairspray and 17 Again but here he has to register in a fantastic ensemble of actors and he simply doesn't. Admittedly he is hamstrung a little by the role. Since the story and Linklater's direction make the viewer feel like 'Me' observing Welles as he creates his legendary production of Julius Caesar and the Mercury theatre company it is easy to kind of forget about Efron's Richard, or at least to dismiss him as Welles so often does. He just makes no impression at all. He's not bad he's just not really significant.
This leads to the inevitable problem that as we reach the films final act, once the play is done and Welles is off screen you feel like the movie is over. You've seen everything there is to see here, it is time to move along. But no, because Efron's story is unresolved so we get another 10 minutes of him and his ending. But you simply don't care. Once McKay/Welles had gone off with his supporting cast the movie was over, it just didn't know it! Amongst the supporting cast Claire Danes continues in display as easy charm, effortlessly likable and curiously beautiful in her quirky angular way. Zoe Kazan (last seen in Revolutionary Road) is a delight as the underused other woman in Efron's life (although if she'd been used more it would have meant more Efron, less Welles so maybe that's a blessing in disguise). James Tupper is excellent as Joseph Cotten, a great match for McKay's Welles. If they ever (God forbid) remake The Third Man they have the cast! Ben Chaplin is also marvellous as George Couloris. I'm constantly impressed by Chaplin and have no idea why he isn't a bigger name. Kelly Reilly doesn't have much to do but look gorgeous, which, naturally, she does with ease. Eddie Marsan seems miscast as John Houseman. I like Marsan but he didn't fit the bill for me here.
Ultimately this is McKay's show. He gives an electrifying performance at the center of a movie that while it is about Welles efforts to put on Julius Caesar is a charming, funny and swift-paced joy; but unfortunately it also has to make space for Zac Efron and his own storyline and there-in lie the flaws.
How you market this i don't know! I can't imagine Efron fans getting excited about a film set in the 1930s about the creation of an historic theatrical production staged by a man who's been dead for 25 years! And on the flipside i nearly didn't see it because i dismissed it, on first awareness, as a Zac Efron movie and so not for me. Only on a second invitation did i notice it was directed by Linklater (always interesting, if not always successful) which charged my want to see it.
Ultimately though if you want to see it because you're an Efron fan, well go see it because your guy's in it and because you'll get to see something a bit different from what you're used it. And maybe you'll like it. If you're not an Efron fan, never fear, you can all but forget he's there and just enjoy Linklater at his breezy best and the best performance of Welles on screen since the great man departed this earth (and took possession of McKay!)
ETA (10/5 AM): One more twitter from WFF: