Time Out London
We first meet Zac Efron’s Richard, the ‘me’ of Richard Linklater’s charming new film about the insecurities and comradeship of actors, as a distracted, 17-year-old New York student, reading Noël Coward in class instead of Shakespeare. It’s 1937 and Richard is a mildly cocky, slightly vain youngster who compares himself to a photo of John Gielgud on a book cover and tells a girl he meets in a jazz store that ‘I’m sort of an actor’. Minutes later, he stumbles on some real actors gathered to rehearse Orson Welles’s Mercury Theatre production of ‘Julius Caesar’ and lays down some chat about playing the ukulele. Next thing, he’s got a bit part. Weekly pay: zilch. ‘Kid’s got balls,’ mutters Welles (Christian McKay), a cigar between his teeth. Let rehearsals begin…
Robert Kaplow’s source novel and Linklater’s sprightly adaptation sprinkle a little fiction on Welles’s very real, radical staging of ‘Julius Caesar’ and offer a sideways view of one of the most precocious, flawed talents of the twentieth century. In 1937, Welles was just 22, pre-‘War of the Worlds’, pre-‘Citizen Kane’, but already a darling of the New York theatre scene and able to wrest art from chaos on a wing and a prayer. Efron’s Richard – played with an attractive, puckish energy and loosely based on a real character – is a window on Welles’s world at just enough of a distance from the great man that the director’s loud personality doesn’t dominate. All roads lead to Welles, but we also witness a brief affair between Richard and Mercury staffer Sonja Jones (Claire Danes), during which Richard learns that the public and the private are one and the same in this theatrical hothouse. Even the loss of his virginity infringes on Welles’s mantra: ‘There is one simple rule: I own the store!’
McKay’s turn as Welles is hugely enjoyable, the right mix of extreme confidence and a dash of vulnerability. Physically and vocally, he’s very convincing: his Welles is a bullish presence among his actors but he also displays cracks in the great man’s armour: he whispers a sincere ‘thank you’ to his producer (Eddie Marsan) and tells Richard how he’s adapting ‘The Magnificent Ambersons’ for radio: ‘"Ambersons" is about how everything gets taken away from you,’ he says, a reminder that Welles lost both parents by the time he was 15.
What’s most admirable about Linklater’s production is that it never loses sight of the play at its heart. The crescendo is not a romance or any other distraction, but the outcome of rehearsals during which we and the cast believe a disaster is pending. There’s a strong ensemble flavour, characterised by the simultaneously selfish and clubbable tendencies of the actors, which makes for a lightly comic experience but also for a portrait of a theatre company that feels warm and true.
Four out of five stars
Anyone who ever made it in the entertainment business got there because of some "big break." But do these breaks happen because of luck? Or talent? Or both? In Me and Orson Welles, directed by Richard Linklater (Waking Life), we witness the early days of one of Hollywood's most successful icons and can decide for ourselves whether luck or talent plays a bigger role in his success.
This movie tells Welles' story through the eyes of a wide-eyed high school student named Richard (Zac Efron) who, in 1937 New York, stumbles into a small role in a production of Julius Caesar that Welles (Christian McKay) is staging in his newly formed Mercury Theater on Broadway. The film is a sort of behind-the-scenes look at the wild world of theater in general, and particularly the even wilder world of Welles—a womanizing, narcissistic, magnetic force of American nature destined for greatness. Richard is in over his head, for sure, and next to Welles he's about as embarrassingly minute as Miley Cyrus would be if she starred in a film opposite Judi Dench.
Perhaps that's why, when Richard goes head-to-head against Welles over a woman (Claire Danes) later in the film, it's hard to root for Richard's success. He's outmatched in every way by Welles, and even if he is more virtuous and less tainted by ruthless ambition, he's painstakingly boring by comparison. But maybe he's just young. How interesting can a high school teen be, anyway?
None of this is Efron's fault. The former Disney Channel/High School Musican star is perfectly fresh-faced and innocuous in the part, and he capably embodies the sort of "aw shucks, mister!" vibe of a raised-in-the-Depression New York youth. But Efron can't help the fact the film's real star—the British actor Christian McKay as Welles—is infinitely more compelling to watch. McKay, who looks impressively similar to man himself, perfectly captures Welles' thunderous bravado and penchant for the melodramatic. Though at times it might tilt a little too far in the direction of caricature, McKay's portrayal is for the most part dead-on.
As for the rest of the cast, Danes is a standout as an eager-beaver member of the Mercury company who will do anything (and sleep with anyone) in order to get ahead. On the soul-deadening ambition scale, she's somewhere between the innocence of Richard and the ruthlessness of Welles. So perhaps it makes sense that she's romantically linked with both.
The story plays out against the "clearly a set" backdrop of 30s-era Manhattan, though the majority of the film was shot inside the Gaiety Theatre on the British Isle of Man (and indeed, most of the cast is British too—largely the Royal Shakespeare Company). The visuals are magnificent, to be sure, but at times the film feels a tad claustrophobic and stagey. It's all so blocked and clean and colorful, when the messy, black-and-white New York of that era might seem a more logical fit (and cheaper too). But Linklater's stylistic choices are doubtless all very intentional.
Linklater's films are often heavy on dialogue and slight on action (though this isn't necessarily a bad thing). Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Slacker, and Tape are made up entirely of conversations: Just people talking and walking and waxing philosophical. These films put the spotlight on the question of what cinema is and how it differs from theater. If it's just people talking, why not just write it as a play? What are the benefits of playing for the camera's eye as opposed to the theater-going audience's attention? Me and Orson Welles—a movie about theater, focused on an iconic film director—asks these questions with appropriately theatrical gusto.
Linklater and cinematographer Dick Pope (Happy-Go-Lucky, Vera Drake) playfully draw attention to the cinematic presence of the camera. Though we are watching "theater," our point of view is not fixed as an audience's might be. Rather, the camera is constantly moving, swooping hither and yon, getting up in the face of the actors. Liberal use of tracking shots, slow zooms, and other "this is what a camera can do!" tricks (including some mise en scene depth-of-field setups Welles would have liked) make a point to underscore the filmic reality of this otherwise theater-centric story.
This is also a film about storytelling and how it lives and breathes in different media forms. Welles is a movie (Linklater) based on a book (Robert Kaplow) about a film director (Welles) who once adapted a Shakespearean play (Julius Caesar) based on a real event. It's a film about the amorphous versatility of storytelling. It's not a coincidence that the film is set in the 1930s—a time when the cinema, theater, radio, and newspapers were enjoying their heyday. Back then, people had the patience for things like Shakespeare, the imagination for things like radio melodramas, and the motivation to slow down and read fiction once and a while.
But even in this age of iPods, Twitter and High School Musical, there is still a market for a well-told story. And that seems to be the point Linklater is trying to make. Despite his faults, Orson Welles was a great, ambitious, groundbreaking storyteller. He didn't care what people said or what obstacles got in the way of his vision. He pressed on and trusted his aesthetic instincts, though sadly he's as much a relic of the mid-century as he was an anomaly within it (a distinctive voice working within the clone-friendly Hollywood studio system). Do they make them like Welles anymore? Probably not.
At the end of the day, Welles is a movie for people who love Orson Welles or love movies about theater. It has less to say about art, luck, and talent than you'd think it would (for a film so aesthetically self-aware), and it has fewer insights into Welles himself than it probably should. It's no Citizen Kane, and it won't change your life. But it's a well-told story, and sometimes that's enough.
Two and a half stars out of four
One thing to say about Richard Linklater – everything he does has the air of pleasant about it. A knack for creating a comfort zone, his adaptation of Robert Kaplow’s novel is a quaint affair, with 1930s Manhattan wonderfully and painstakingly recreated on the Isle Of Man. The film is told from the point of view of a 17-year-old aspiring actor Richard (Zac Efron), who gets the luckiest break of his life when he nabs a role in Orson Welles’ production of Julius Caesar in the freshly opened Mercury Theatre. An account of one turbulent week leading up the opening night, Richard not only faces stage fright and massive egos, but the drama of falling in love with Welles’ glamorous theatre assistant Sonja.
It’s a good job an actor whom the camera adores was cast as Richard, as the character is woefully underwritten. At no point do you feel you know what drives him, or what makes him tick – Richard is a bland, empty vessel and it is only Efron’s bone structure that stops him fading into the wallpaper. Also disappointing is the lack of chemistry between Efron and Claire Danes‘ brittle, self-obsessed Sonja – unhelpful when the supposed passion Richard feels for her drives a pivotal scene in the film. Again, more of a problem with the screenwriter than the actors. Richard gets to regularly clear his head from the madness of the production by bumping into the gauche writer Gretta (a twee Zoe Kazan), but these scenes still go no further to enhance Richard, serving only Gretta.
So it is left to the magnificent Christian McKay to carry the film as the young Orson Welles, and the British stage actor wrings every bit of magic from his screen debut. McKay not only harnesses the mannerisms of the audacious auteur, but that confidence that veers very frequently into arrogance. However, McKay is very careful not to merely be a bombastic caricature, demonstrating the knowing that anyone desperate to succeed in the arts must have, and sharing that with Efron in a fascinating one-on-one scene towards the end. A supporting cast, of, well, the supporting cast of Julius Caesar, add some much-needed charm, especially Ben Chaplin’s adorably intense George Coulouris. Very little happens in this seven-day period, but all the highlights come from the behind-the-scenes chaos of working under a director like Welles, giving the cast a great opportunity to have fun with the in-jokes and send-ups.
An unremarkable flick, but a delight for anyone interested in Welles, or who fancies seeing a strong contender for one of the performances of the year from McKay. Efron’s star quality burned brighter in Hairspray and 17 Again, and it’s a shame he is not allowed to shine in a dull role.
Three out of five
On the Box
In a poll last year, it was discovered that more people falsely claim to have seen Citizen Kane, than any other film.
Those fakers who are quick to reference one of the most iconic works of the last century might actually find the will to get their hands on it after watching this superb tribute to the director.
Me and Orson Welles tells the story of his efforts to complete an early Broadway production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, capturing all the best aspects of the man himself, and a few of the worst.
The story is told through Richard Samuels (Zac Efron), a disenchanted schoolboy who wings his way to a role in the latest Welles project and is immediately enraptured with the new universe he has been ushered into.
However, the famous director’s desire to create his vision while indulging his own enigma delays production somewhat. With the play set to open in less than a week, things don’t look good, and cast and critics are all predicting doom.
These doubts are of little concern to Welles however – "They scoffed when I removed ‘to be, or not to be’ from Hamlet…" – and he doubles his efforts to achieve a masterpiece.
Christian McKay is a fabulous in the lead role and he skillfully conveys the charm, wit and menace which went towards defining the star of a generation.
Still relatively unknown, such is the mesmerizing hold this actor exerts upon the audience that it almost feels as if he was born to play this part.
Indeed he comes as close to delivering a real vision as possible without actually transporting us back to the Mercury Theatre in 1930s New York, and we are forced to feel the unbreakable sway that Welles held over those around him.
The film as a whole is also a triumph, and the atmosphere of a by-gone era is nicely bottled by Richard Linklater. The cast also turns in some excellent support work, notably Clare Danes as a love interest for the over-shadowed yet acceptable, Zac Efron, playing a 17-year-old new boy who acts as a story-vehicle.
This is a piece of genuine quality which serves as an absorbing tribute to the sheer power of charisma and to a man whose talent summed up a generation.
Four stars out of five
"I am Orson Welles, and every one of you stands here as a subject to my vision." So announces the young actor/director to the cast of his famed New York production of Julius Caesar in 1937. But it’s not all about him: among this cast is teenager Richard (an impressive Efron), who within a week will debut on stage, be wooed and dropped by Welles’ mistress (Danes) and learn much about dark genius. He grows up as quickly.
If there are romantic comedy elements to what is one of the eclectic Linklater’s finest films yet, these are outweighed by a stellar character study. Brit newcomer McKay delivers a classy, career-making performance as Welles. Sensitive, narcissistic, bullying, his Orson is a tour de force, raising the game of the rest of the ensemble. A witty script and stylish yet unvarnished period feel also help. When the play has impressed audiences while changing the lives of all those in his circle, Welles booms, four years before Citizen Kane, "How the hell do I top this?"
I do love Zac Efron in ‘30s styles. His best decade is probably the ‘60s in Hairspray but his polished good looks work in a ‘30s coif too.
Anyway, he plays an aspiring actor who gets a gig at Orson Welles’ theater production of Julius Caesar. Just talking shop with Orson Welles is a cool thing to see, and the environment of ‘30s pop culture and Shakespearean analysis requires a little homework for the audience to keep up.
The film creates an interesting world to set the story. Welles is a charismatic tyrant, like any high powered boss you have to work for. It’s a mentorship story, with artistic and intellectual talk. Seeing Welles behind the scenes of a radio show is cool too.
It’s also a "putting on a show" movie with all the things that go wrong before opening night. You just linger with the crew. The political backstage workings of a stage are cool, the theater banter between performers, their intellectual sex metaphors. It’s definitely highbrow, but not boring or alienating.
Even this world has its dating schemes as everyone angles for a shot with the "hot girl." And yes, there is a "plain one" who’s actually right for him all along. They get into shenanigans at a museum. That’s how gloriously pretentious this movie is. They get up to trouble at a public institution for learning.
You see the spit of theatrical projection and there’s a valuable lesson about the politics you have to learn about Hollywood types. I guess Welles was still a Broadway type at this point but it’s the same lesson. Standing up for yourself is a noble trait. It’s not the right thing to do with an established ego who has the power to help you but only if it suits him.
The only thing is it’s grammatically incorrect. Shouldn’t it be Orson Welles and I?
Zac Efron shows that he has range beyond teen movies in this sophisticated theatrical drama.
Claire Danes is also delightful as his love interest Sonja, while Christian McKay steals the show doing a great impression of real-life legend Orson Welles.
It’s interesting to see the hold Welles has over his fellow performers – especially the women, who fall at his feet, much to Richard’s annoyance.
There are fun moments, but it’s easy to get a bit bored – this is slow-paced and oddly lacking in direction.
Great performances keep this slow-moving drama afloat. Zac Efron looks as lovely as ever and proves himself in a more grown-up role.
Three out of five
At the Movies with AO Scott and Michael Phillips
Director Richard Linklater ("School of Rock," "Dazed and Confused," "Before Sunrise") and stars Claire Danes and Zac Efron talked to a small group of reporters here in Washington DC about their new film, "Me and Orson Welles." It is a fictional story based on the real-life production Mercury Theater production of "Julius Caesar" in 1937. Welles, then a theatrical and radio prodigy and general enfant terrible was a few years from making "Citizen Kane" but already considered both brilliant and impossible. In this movie, based on the book by Robert Kaplow, a high school student (Efron of "Hairspray" and "High School Musical") almost accidentally gets a bit part in the chaotic production and falls for a young woman (Danes) working on the production. When we saw them, they had just come back from a visit to the White House.
Q: What got you interested in this script?
ZE: Rick talked to me about it and that was probably the most flattering thing in the world, I was kind of floored. Although it appears on the surface to be more serious or dramatic, I think for the kids who did see "High School Musical" and "17 Again," for a younger audience, its an interesting transition. At a first glance theater in the 30s might appear a more stuffy, boring kind of story, but what the audience will find out is that it is every bit as fun as "High School Musical" and even more real world and practical. It doesn't just have to be a fantasy land in which theater can be fun. It's probably more exciting -- the stakes are higher and it's real.
Q: You just came back from the White House! What was that like? Were the Obama girls there?
RL: I secretly suspected that's why we were invited but Sasha and Malia did not play sick. They were in school -- Michelle would not allow it. We were meeting with the policy advisor on behalf of the Americans for the Arts. They're hosting the screening tonight. It's about arts education.
CD: We had our meeting in the "war room." They do real things in that building!
ZE: It's just a meeting room -- no buttons to push! But it was still really cool.
RL: George Washington is on the wall -- that war. It's like Hollywood -- all of the people are really smart! So how can they make such bad stuff?
Q: You created the tone of the book beautifully. Can you talk a little bit about doing a period piece because the details are so evocative.
RL: That's the magic of cinema, you can re-create a moment in time like this. It's November 1937, this theater, this stage design. But beyond the specifics, you try to create a mood, an atmosphere. That's not just the history but also the genre. This movie has elements of screwball comedy, if you think of the films of the 1930's, just in film history terms, to get that tone. This is a genre Orson Welles would never act in or make a film about! We put him in a film he would put himself in for a fun ride through a week in his life. It's one thing to make a period piece about something you remember intimately, which I have done. It's another thing to go back in time.
Is there a politician you admire?
CD: Obama's the man!
ZE: Abraham Lincoln!
Q: Did you grow up in homes where politics was talked about?
CD: I grew up in New York, we talked about politics. I am curious, but I do not follow it avidly. I am not a news or politics junkie like my husband.
RL: I admire anyone who has devoted their lives to public service. Someone who's truly a public servant.
CD: We try to make movies that are going to influence people in positive ways. We want to entertain them but we also want them to empathize and understand themselves in a new way. It's exciting to talk to people who are working on a more practical level.
RL: It is exciting to have a President who has such vast empathy. You can read his books and you can see he really has this bigger vision and really cares about people. You see how tough that job is and you have to be patient. But we felt like these people get it.
Q: How would you like to be remembered?
RL: We hope people will like it, we'd like them to see it in a theater preferably. There might be some kid who's too young for it now but will catch up with it later on DVD. These stories travel.
ZE: Orson Welles was so ahead of his time and took a lot of risks, so unafraid. I think that's something that is a great way to be remembered. He pushed mediums forward; he reinvented three mediums before he was 26 years old.
CD: I love that line of Bowie's, "It doesn't matter who does it first; it matters who does it second." The innovators are often overlooked because they prepare people to appreciate that idea later on.
Q: You achieved such an authentic backstage feeling in the movie.
ZE: Putting on a play and being part of a show, there's now way to explain or condense it. You live the highest highs and lowest lows. You feel on top of the world. It was interesting living in that world and re-creating the highlights of those moments, especially being directed by Orson Welles.
RL: But Christian McKay (who plays Welles) was the least experienced actor in the whole cast! He was the top dog but he would ask the most innocent questions.
ZE: He would even ask me questions!
RL: But it never seems out of the realm of possibility that even with so little film experience he would have a lead role in the film. That's the Welles-ian element. And it's not an imitation; it is a real performance.
Q: Did you do much research about Welles or the era?
CD: Like so many people, I discovered Welles in college, "Citizen Kane" in class. I definitely had an appreciation for him. And Rick made a care package for us of slang terms, a great compilation of songs from that time. I didn't have to do a lot of research. My character was very relatable. But I was not the performer, more the Girl Friday, though she is starring in her own epic drama.
ZE: We had a pretty exciting time re-creating 1937 New York City in Pinewood Studios and we kind of felt we were living in that era. And we did talk about how my character would have admired Fred Astaire.
Vancouver Sun, "Zac Efron 'almost too good looking' to land plum movie role."
Can extreme good looks be a handicap for an actor?
The question fascinates screen heartthrob Zac Efron. He may have set millions of teenage female hearts fluttering with his performance as the dashing and romantic Troy Bolton in the High School Musical franchise -- but hey, this is a guy who also wants to be taken seriously as an actor.
He hopes he's made a major step in this direction with Me And Orson Welles, a period piece set in the late 1930s and a film already generating strong Oscar buzz. Yet director Richard Linklater was initially reluctant to cast Efron in the role of a star-struck high school kid who lucks into a small role in Orson Welles' legendary Mercury Theatre production of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar.
Linklater had seen the young actor's performance in Hairspray and his first impression was that Efron was "almost too good-looking."
Efron can laugh about it now. "If he did think that, thank god he reconsidered," he says by phone from Los Angeles.
And, in fact, it didn't take long for Linklater to change his mind.
"You can't judge the full range of an actor based on what you've seen them in," Linklater admitted later. "So we set up a meeting. A minute or two into the conversation, I knew he would be the perfect Richard Samuels."
As for Efron, he knows he's been blessed with good looks-- but he's anxious to point out that this has nothing to do with genuine talent.
"I think it's all relative. I think you're kind of meant to do what you're meant to do. I don't think it (good looks) necessarily hurts or helps more than the other. It's me. I can't change it. I don't think about it, to be honest."
What he does think about is the need to break out of his conventional adolescent screen image, although he is grateful to High School Musical, Hairspray and 17 Again for advancing his career. That's why he's placing such high hopes on The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud, which he recently filmed in Vancouver -- a drama about a youth coping with the death of a much-loved younger brother. It's also why working with Linklater -- a seminal figure in America's independent film renaissance -- is so important to him.
Me And Orson Welles, based on a novel by Robert Kaplow, recalls a memorable event in American theatrical history. And Efron's character, the youthful Richard Samuels, is both participant and onlooker as a 20-something Welles (played by newcomer Christian McKay) stakes his fledgling career on a risky, modern-dress production of Julius Caesar -- a production which will confront the looming shadow of Fascism over the world.
Or as Efron’s character puts it: "This is the story of one week in my life. I was 17. It was the week I slept in Orson Welles' pyjamas. It was the week I fell in love. It was the week I fell out of love."
For Efron, it's a career necessity not to find himself in a rut, and here he's playing a character unlike anything he's done before in a film from a director who has rarely worked in the Hollywood mainstream. So of course, the 22-year-old actor sees this film as an important chapter in life,
"Oh yeah -- I take everything very seriously. I think every movie at this point is important. But this one has a different fan base and different subject matter. It's more mature, and I'm not able to rely on some skill sets that I've been able to rely on in the past. So it's branching out, I think."
He felt he was taking a risk, and that scared him. But it also compelled him to press ahead.
"It made me a little nervous at times, but that's usually a good thing in my experience. The scarier something is, the harder it is to jump into, and the more of a challenge it will be."
He went into the project thinking he knew about Welles, the precocious genius who at the age of 25 directed Citizen Kane, considered by many critics to be the greatest film of all time. But Efron quickly learned how little he really did know.
"I've always taken pride in the fact that I was familiar with his work and with his movies. I considered myself very well-educated on Welles, but then I showed up on set and talked to Rick (Linklater) about Orson, and in five minutes he had completely trumped me. All my pride went out the window," he says.
"I realized I didn't know the first thing about Orson, particularly his endeavours in theatre. It was a very educational experience. What I know now is fascinating -- The Mercury Theatre was a great chapter in his life."
During filming in Britain, Efron cheerfully coped with High School Musical fans congregating outside shooting locations. But as he chatted with them and signed autographs, his kept thinking about the character of Richard Samuels in the movie, and how much he had in common with "this school kid" from New Jersey.
"To be honest, I can relate a lot to this character in so many ways. He has this affinity to theatre and is drawn to it. That's how I was -- I was just drawn to it. And then he lucks into this part with Orson who is such a presence -- and I remember who that presence was for me."
When he was younger, Zac chalked up a large number of community theatre and high school stints in his hometown of San Luis Obispo, Calif. And as he starred in productions of Gypsy, The Music Man, and Little Shop Of Horrors, one fellow performer became an inspiration.
"The girl who played Mama Rose in Gypsy -- she was the most brilliant performer. She had a presence, and I remember every night I would watch her songs from the wings and her ability to be mesmerizing. And I think that's kind of what Richard goes through with Orson in this movie."
He also feels that filming in England was part of a growth process. Some scenes were shot at the legendary Pinewood Studio where Efron felt haunted by ghosts from the past -- including four decades of James Bond films. But he also he felt he was personally maturing during these weeks.
"Filming in England set it apart from the rest of the projects I've done because I was able to remove myself. L.A. is a different environment from filming in London where I was able to focus differently. I was stripped of friends and family, I really was living on my own. It was a first for me, and a great thing to go through while you still have the ability to change."
Empire Webchat with Richard
iheartrhubarb: Were you worried about the baggage that Zac Efron brings with him?
I just travelled with Zac; his bag was rather large... I think he's always being given a lot of clothes. I wish we were the same size, perhaps I could nick a few jackets from him! No, but once people see Zac in the movie they don't question him in the film at all. In fact no-one can imagine anyone else pulling it off like that.
Paste Magazine with Richard
Paste: Going back to the movie, what motivated you cast Zac Efron as the lead?
Linklater: Selfishly, I just want the best actor who can pull that part off. I can’t imagine anyone else. That’s a touchy part; [Efron’s character, Richard] could have disappeared. When you have these big personalities, the person who’s eyes you’re seeing it through has a tendency to become wallpaper. They can be real background. So I needed a leading man who could go toe-to-toe with Welles. It’s kind of funny when you see Welles say "Don’t worry about it, Junior," like, oh, this little fucker is getting away with something here, in a big way. So game on. It’s fun to see Zac maneuver through all that, and that’s who he is.
I always say if you underestimate Zac, you will realize quickly that he’s actually two steps ahead of you. He’s a poker player. He was apparently taking everyone’s money. The cast and crew who thought they were such good poker players, Zac comes in as the kid, "So really, is this how you do it?" And oh no, he’s really good. He just beat you. That is very telling about him. But I just think he’s really talented, you know? He’s a song and dance man. He’s kind of a throw back. He would be a great ‘30s, ’40s [star]. He works well in a period film. I first saw him in Hairspray, and I thought what he did there was pretty incredible. Some guys got it. It’s going to be interesting to see his career, because he’s got that physicality. I think he could be an action star. He could do a lot of things.
Paste: You arguably gave him his first big dramatic break.
Linklater: On one level, yeah. He felt there was a different expectation in what he had to achieve here. He has to carry the movie. I was really proud of him. He worked really hard.
Links to other non-Zac MAOW interviews/articles:
(Or those with nothing new re: Zac)
TimeOut London w/ Richard
Future Movies w/ Ricahrd
Guardian, "Richard Linklater 'I'm not like Orson Welles...'"
indieWIRE on the box office and demographics (very interesting I think).