Posts Tagged ‘Me And Orson Welles’

Richard Linklater On Kal Penn And Orson Welles

Director Richard Linklater, Claire Danes, and Zac Efron (Photo Christina Wilkie)

Director Richard Linklater, Claire Danes, and Zac Efron in Georgetown (Photo Christina Wilkie)

For director Richard Linklater, his projects range from the artsy (Waking Life, A Scanner Darkly) to more mainstream (School of Rock, Bad News Bears.) However when the screenwriter visited DC he was here to present a more independent production. But indie doesn’t mean small, in making Me And Orson Welles, he traveled all the way to the Isle of Man in order to shoot in one of the only theatres in the world that could double for the famous Mercury Theatre.

Despite picking up an American distributor, the film was picked up all along the festival circuit with screenings at Cannes, Toronto, and and South by Southwest. Now the film arrives in Washington, DC for a run at the E-Street cinema.

I had the chance to sit down with Richard Linklater to talk about making this film and his time here in The District.

Linklater took some creative steps to making Me And Orson Welles, when he struggled to find funding for the film he took the production abroad and filmed in Europe, “when you can’t get money in the U.S. you go to Europe,” he told me as we sat down in his Georgetown hotel suite. Even though the film takes in the New York City, he shot all of the New York scenes on a backlot at the UK-based Pinewood Studios. “We took some photos but we never shot a single frame of film in New York- a lot of that was filmed with CGI,” explained Linklater, “we used a muddy backlot and built 42nd street, the theatre, a couple of shops on it.”

When it came to casting Linklater was equally as creative, visualizing where his lead actor would be instead of holding auditions or pouring through lists. “I think our Orson is probably British, is probably doing Shakespeare right now- and a month later I got an e-mail from the Novelist, there was a guy doing a one man show in New York.” That guy was Christian McKay, a former concert pianist who was acting in a one-man show about Orson Welles. After flying him to Austin for three days of screen tests Linklater knew he had his man, “the key is that he’s Wellisan himself- he’s a child prodigy, a genius.”

Visiting Washington, DC always eventually leads to talk about politics, and with Orson Welles know for his iconic film Citizen Kane, Linklater offered some thoughts on Welles chances as a politician if it ever happened, “Um no- I think he’d be a great orator… he’s just too gifted an entertainer, too gifted a showman, he had too many artistic gifts… I mean come on he’s the ultimate control freak- politics is about compromise.”

Besides screening his film he also got to visit The White House where he met a fellow actor, turned Obama administration official: Kal Penn. Linklater was really impressed meeting Penn and said if he didn’t know about his acting past he would of thought he studied political science at an Ivy League school, “I was like- wow what a story-he’s called a liaison but he’s more than that. I do different kinds of films and people go, ‘that’s really different.’ Well that’s not really different, different would be working at the White House for a year or two. Making a different film about something different isn’t different.”

Linklater’s film Me and Orson Welles is screening at the E-Street theatre, check out my previous post for details.

Me And Orson Welles Opens At E-Street Cinema


Christian McKay as Orson Welles and Zac Efron as Richard Samuels in “Me and Orson Welles”.

Looking at the top films at the Box Office this past weekend the theatres were dominated by Disney films, sports epics, and something about Vampires. However I want to talk about a film you probably haven’t heard of that should be ranked up there amongst these other films.

This past weekend Me And Orson Welles premiered at the E Street Cinema, I had the pleasure of attending a media screening earlier in November. The Richard Linklater film is a historical drama that chronicles a week in the life of Richard Samuels (Zac Efron.) Samuels is a high schooler that is hired off the street by Welles to take on a role in the Mercury Theatre’s production of Julius Caesar. Samuels dives headfirst into life as a Broadway actor which involves flirtations with the company’s production assistant (Claire Danes) and glimpses into the life of the intriguing media icon that was Orson Welles (Christian McKay.)

After spending most of 2009 getting back into theatre in DC, I thoroughly enjoyed what Roger Ebert calls, “is one of the best movies about the theater I’ve ever seen.” The drama and energy of putting on a show is captured perfectly in the film. Even though people maybe drawn to see the names of Efron and Danes; it is McKay’s dazzling performance as Orson Welles that makes this film, which would otherwise be a typical coming of age film set against a 1930’s stage production.

Fans of Zac Efron won’t be disappointed however, his moments on screen make use of his strong acting and music skills. The screams from his adoring 16-year-old fans in the front row of the screening is approval enough for me.

With the big Hollywood holiday hits due out this week, I encourage you to take a break from the mainstream and check out what is a quality piece of work over at E-Street.

Stay tuned to Metblogs for an interview with Me And Orson Welles director Richard Linklater later this week.

Me And Orson Welles
E-Street Cinema

555 11th Street NW

Washington, DC 20004

(202) 452-7672


Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.