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Zac Efron Talks About ‘Me and Orson Welles’

Feature film newcomer Christian McKay stars as a 22 year old Orson Welles in Me and Orson Welles, a fictionalized account of Welles’ 1937 staging of Julius Caesar at the Mercury Theatre.High School Musical standout Zac Efron plays a 17 year old actor who is unexpectedly asked to join the play as Lucius just weeks before it opens. Directed by Richard Linklater (Dazed and ConfusedThe School of RockA Scanner Darkly) and adapted for the screen by Holly Gent Palmo and Vincent Palmo Jr, Me and Orson Welles brings the fiery filmmaker’s work to life on the big screen, introducing Welles to a new generation of moviegoers.

Zac Efron read the Robert Kaplow novel the film’s based on, and he was familiar with Orson Welles’ work before taking on the part of Richard Samuels. “I pretty much had the standard, for my age, [knowledge]. I studied him in high school and a little bit before that. I was familiar with a lot of his work, and War of the Worlds.”

Efron quickly discovered that although he knew the basics about Orson Welles, there was a lot left to learn. “Coming into this I thought I was pretty well read on Orson, and then immediately found out that I hadn’t even scratched the surface on this guy. Rick [Linklater, writer/director] really was the one who filled us in and supplied us with endless amounts of literature and articles and the old photos. I think I’ve seen every picture of Orson,” said Efron, laughing.

At the LA press day for the Freestyle Releasing production, Efron recalled his first experience with Welles’ work. “I was probably 16 and I’ve worked with a director who said that his favorite movie of all time was Citizen Kane. And as a wrap gift, he gave me the DVD. I was definitely fascinated by it and I thought that it was an incredible movie. but I was probably too young to fully appreciate it at that point.”

Because Efron’s so popular with a younger audience due to his appearance in the High School Musical franchise, his participation in Me and Orson Welles may encourage teens to check out the film, even though it’s vastly different than Efron’s prior work. “People keep saying, ‘What about Orson Welles is going to attract the young audience?’ What I’m hoping is that the audience that does come is able to enjoy this experience with such an iconic guy, and hopefully it will spark their interest, and they’ll be able to learn more and go and find out about Welles more in depth, his amazing, very interesting, roller coaster career.”

The fact that Me and Orson Welles is so different from his past films is one of the main reasons Efron was eager to become involved in the movie. “[…]It was a very unique opportunity for me at the time, and it still is. I think it was something that just didn’t seem so cut and dry. It wasn’t an obvious decision and even I was a bit surprised, and that’s very cool. I hope I can continue to maintain that, and have those options. I mean, that’s why we do this. To grow, and try new things, and that was exactly what this movie represented for me. So thank god it came at the perfect time,” explained Efron.

 

Zac Efron’s Next Project

Efron will next be seen in theaters in The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud which reunites him with his 17 Again director Burr Steers. Asked who he plays, Efron had a difficult time describing what the film’s about. “I play a character named Charlie who is a kind of a golden boy in his high school, and then his life sort of takes a turn, with the death of his little brother, his little brother dies, and it’s a story about how he copes with that. And it’s sort of a love story from that point on. It’s kind of hard to explain. It always comes across like I’m digging graves…”

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November 27, 2009 - Posted by | 1

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