Me and Orson Welles

December 4, 2009 0 By Fans
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Still of Claire Danes and Zac Efron in Me and Orson WellesStill of Christian McKay in Me and Orson WellesRichard Linklater at event of Me and Orson WellesStill of Zac Efron in Me and Orson WellesStill of Zac Efron in Me and Orson WellesStill of Claire Danes and Zac Efron in Me and Orson Welles


A teenager is cast in the Mercury Theatre production of "Julius Caesar" directed by a young Orson Welles in 1937.

Release Year: 2008

Rating: 6.9/10 (4,816 voted)

Critic's Score: 73/100

Richard Linklater

Stars: Zac Efron, Claire Danes, Christian McKay

In November 1937, high school student and aspiring thespian Richard Samuels takes a day trip into New York City. There, he meets and begins a casual friendship with Gretta Adler, their friendship based on a shared love and goal of a profession in the creative arts. But also on this trip, Richard stumbles across the Mercury Theatre and meets

Writers: Holly Gent Palmo, Vincent Palmo Jr.


Garrick Hagon

Dr. Mewling

Zac Efron

Richard Samuels

Zoe Kazan

Gretta Adler

Megan Maczko

Evelyn Allen

Simon Lee Phillips

Walter Ash

Patrick Kennedy

Grover Burgess

Shane James Bordas


Alessandro Giuggioli


Harry Macqueen


Rhodri Orders


James Tupper

Joseph Cotten

Thomas Arnold

George Duthie

Aidan McArdle

Martin Gabel

Simon Nehan

Joe Holland

Claire Danes

Sonja Jones

All's fair in love and theater


Official Website:
Official site |

Release Date: 4 December 2009

Filming Locations: Crystal Palace Park, Penge, London, England, UK

Box Office Details

Budget: $25,000,000


Opening Weekend: $63,638
(29 November 2009)
(4 Screens)

Gross: $1,186,957
(21 February 2010)

Technical Specs


(Toronto International Film Festival)

Did You Know?


The production of "Julius Caesar" that the film depicts ran for 157 performances during its run at the Mercury Theatre and later at the larger National Theatre (where it was transferred), by far the longest run of the play in Broadway history.


Factual errors:
A common mistake in movies and TV, fire sprinklers are activated individually – a match held to one would only cause that particular sprinkler head to open, and not all of the sprinklers as shown in the movie.


[first lines]

Dr. Mewling:
By the year of 1592, Shakespeare was already an actor, and a playwright. Records of how his stage career began have not survived. We do know that in 1594 he joined a theater troupe. Called… anyone remember? Not everyone at once now. The Lord Chamberlain's Men.

User Review

Breezy, nostalgic celebration of film and theater and one of the most dynamic figures to impact them

Rating: 8/10

The career of Richard Linklater has proved one of the most delightfully
eclectic in the film industry, veering between works as diverse as
teenage subculture films (Dazed and Confused) to philosophical romances
(Before Sunrise) to drug-addled paranoid thrillers (A Scanner Darkly)
to mainstream comedies (School of Rock). But even with such a varied
body of work, it is difficult to deny Linklater's latest still seeming
somewhat of an anomaly: a lighthearted period piece examining the
timeless figure of Orson Welles, making his name through a 1930s
theater production of Julius Ceasar still seems an odd about face even
for such a versatile director. And yet it is somewhat fitting that such
a whimsically talented modern director should examine one of cinema's
most legendary mavericks as Linklater's latest, Me and Orson Welles is
a charming addition to his body of work, a breezy, self- reflexive yet
nostalgic celebration of the mediums of performance as experienced
alongside one of the most dynamic and influential figures ever to
impact them.

The agile script ably captures the conflicting clashes of the behemoth
of a personality that was Orson Welles, from the explosive temper
tantrums to the slyly manipulative charm to the casual womanizing,
painting a vivid (but likely not larger than life) portrait of the man
without either romanticizing or demonising him. It is ultimately the
presence of the titular character which rescues the film from becoming
yet another "cast rehearsing a play" film, as the dynamo of Welles
tearing through the film at all the least expected moments creates a
sporadic force of havok keeping the film continually off kilter,
preventing it from descending into cliché and keeping it consistently
interesting as consequence. While the story's lightness of touch does
make some of the plot points either overly obvious or unbelievable, a
film so unassumingly enjoyable fails to evoke much complaint – whether
dabbling in the dramatic or the comedic, Me and Orson Welles remains
refreshingly cheerful and earnest, and all the better for it.
Completing the package, Linklater's rare tackling of a period piece
demonstrates his typically astute ability to capture the feel and
flavour of the times, with the earnest ambition of the 1930s well
complimented by subtly stylish sets and costumes while simultaneously
avoiding beating the audience over the head with more overt details of
the time (instead of the potential hackneyed Nazi allusions, Linklater
includes merely a brief radio snippet which is quickly cut off, a
classy and subtle inclusion).

Undergoing a difficult transition from teenage heartthrob to dramatic
lead, Zac Efron gives a surprisingly solid performance as the
idealistic young actor swept into the wild world of Welles,
convincingly contributing charm, comedy and genuine sympathy to the
emotional centerpoint of the film. However, given the title, it isn't
difficult to imagine the inevitable highlight of the show, and true
enough, as the infamous Welles, British stage actor Christian McKay
doesn't so much steal scenes as seize and throttle them, exploding on
screen with the same engrossing bluster that only the real Welles
himself could conjure up. Blending the conflicting elements of an
indisputably difficult character as easily as he nails the trademark
voice and appearance, McKay's Welles alternates between devilish
charmer and explosive force to be feared, shaking up the film with
similar vigour and nuanced genius – one of the most impressive
cinematic debuts in recent memory. Claire Danes is also on top form as
a good hearted but endlessly ambitious member of Welles' company, and
Ben Chaplin and James Tupper are endearing presences as eccentric
members of Welles' calamitous company.

As unconventional a project as it may be, Me and Orson Welles remains
one of the most unashamedly lighthearted and enjoyable forays into
nostalgia in many a year, breezily blending the serious with the silly
while never skimping on historical fact. The addition of McKay's
brilliantly combustive Welles make the theatrical rehearsal sequences a
joy to behold instead of drearily formulaic, making Linklater's latest
film a charm to behold for even the most cynical of audiences.