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Me and Orson Welles (2009)


Average Rating: 7.1/10
Reviews Counted: 153
Fresh: 130 | Rotten: 23

Critics Consensus: Me and Orson Welles boasts a breakout performance by Christian McKay and an infectious love of the backstage drama that overcomes its sometimes fluffy tone.

Average Rating: 7.1/10
Critic Reviews: 34
Fresh: 28 | Rotten: 6

Critics Consensus: Me and Orson Welles boasts a breakout performance by Christian McKay and an infectious love of the backstage drama that overcomes its sometimes fluffy tone.


Average Rating: 3.3/5
User Ratings: 17,445


Movie Info

In a whirlwind week in 1937 in New York City, a young aspiring actor named Richard is thrown into the middle of Orson Welles Mercury Theatre Company on the eve of the opening of Welles historic staging of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. During this week he will find romance with a worldly older woman, becomes immersed in a creative experience few are afforded and learn the downside of crossing the imperious, brilliant Welles. Richard is about to grow up fast.

PG-13 (for sexual references and smoking)
Drama , Art House & International , Comedy
Directed By:
In Theaters:
Jul 1, 2010
Box Office:
Freestyle Releasing - Official Site



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Critic Reviews for Me and Orson Welles

All Critics (154) | Top Critics (34) | Fresh (130) | Rotten (23) | DVD (1)

The most resonant voice belongs to Welles, or rather to McKay, who uncannily channels the charm, ego and flim-flammery of the man who would soon move to Hollywood to direct and star in Citizen Kane.

Full Review… | December 17, 2009
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic

Christian McKay's impersonation of young Orson Welles is sensational in this enjoyable, though slight, historical fiction about a teen who spends a memorable week with the legendary wonder.

December 11, 2009
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic

The very name Orson Welles stands for genius wasted and betrayed, and the movie offers some foreshadowing of his triumphs and failures to come.

Full Review… | December 11, 2009
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

A thoroughly enjoyable film that wraps a coming-of-age story around the portrait of a genius.

Full Review… | December 11, 2009
Detroit News
Top Critic

It's an open question as to who, outside theater geeks, will find this inside-baseball approach quite as fascinating as Linklater apparently does.

Full Review… | December 11, 2009
Washington Post
Top Critic

I forgot that I was looking at an actor. I really believed I was looking at Welles.

Full Review… | December 11, 2009
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

This deceptively modest movie is smartly not a curated compilation of Wellesiana, but rather a warmly observed look at the theater and those souls who live for the arts.

Full Review… | September 24, 2014
Film Comment Magazine

The film's Welles is a mix of huckster and genius, thanks to an astonishing performance by little-known English actor Christian McKay, who captures his boundless self-confidence and energy. Director Richard Linklater gives his cast the chance to shine.

Full Review… | August 1, 2012
Movie Talk

A smart and charming backstage theater film.

Full Review… | January 3, 2011
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Thanks to Linklater and McKay, we get a rendition of Welles that gives vital pulse to the man, the myth, the legend.

Full Review… | September 25, 2010
ReelTalk Movie Reviews

Christian McKay delivers a stand out performance in two of the best escapist hours you'll experience this year.

Full Review… | August 8, 2010
Sydney Morning Herald

You're not going to have huge laughs or terrible sadness or excitement. It's a bittersweet love letter to thespians of old.

Full Review… | August 6, 2010
Triple J

Me and Orson Welles is a potentially wonderful film damaged by the presence of a lacklustre Zac Efron.

Full Review… | August 5, 2010
The Mercury

McKay is magnificent [as Welles]. Not for a moment did I doubt that this was the man who went on to make Citizen Kane.

Full Review… | July 30, 2010

The film is beautifully, factually detailed. There's much to love here.

Full Review… | July 30, 2010
MovieTime, ABC Radio National

The sheer dynamism of Welles in full flight -- an exasperating, yet awe-inspiring figure around the clock -- is brought to life with an incredible performance by unknown British actor Christian McKay.

Full Review… | July 29, 2010
Herald Sun (Australia)

Me and Orson Welles has plenty to offer fans, be they of theatre, old movies, or High School Musical. If you can tick at least one of these boxes then you're in for a good time.

Full Review… | July 29, 2010
Sunday Mail (Australia)

Though you may see the end coming somewhere towards the beginning, this is a highly enjoyable film with an excellent support cast, witty and fast-paced script and brilliant performances.

Full Review… | July 29, 2010
Concrete Playground

Me and Orson Welles, whilst slight, should appeal to stage and screen buffs.

Full Review… | July 29, 2010

It's not as far from the small town '70s Texas of Dazed and Confused to backstage at the Mercury Theatre on opening night in 1937 as you might think.

Full Review… | July 29, 2010

The legend which is Orson Welles and his passion for the theatre are beautifully portrayed in this breezy period drama.

Full Review… | July 29, 2010
Matt's Movie Reviews

With its wonderful period details, strong performances and fascinating characters, Me and Orson Welles is an incredibly enjoyable film.

Full Review… | July 28, 2010
Cinema Autopsy

Thanks to McKay's mesmerising performance, Me and Orson Welles also stands as a fitting tribute to the abundant talents of its larger-than-life title character, an icon of stage, radio and screen.

Full Review… | July 27, 2010
Sunday Times (Australia)

McKay does a spectacular job of nailing the booming voice, quivering jowls, quick-tempered impatience and larger-than-life presence of Welles.

Full Review… | July 22, 2010

Welles, wonderfully characterised by Christian McKay, is the centre of his universe, and he has no doubts about his genius..What the film does well is the effortless creative talent that drove Welles and the negative aspects of it..

Full Review… | July 22, 2010
Urban Cinefile

A wonderful coming of age story, intricately set in the world of theatre, Me and Orson Welles is a seductive film about dreams and betrayal. There is much more than a career on stage at risk

Full Review… | July 22, 2010
Urban Cinefile

Audience Reviews for Me and Orson Welles

During the viewing of this sweet nostalgic look at backstage life, I wondered how anybody came up with the funding for it! Nobody gets thrown out of a window, no cars explode, there are no scenes of bloody carnage, and there's not even one cute dog. But there is a romanticized slice of honest Americana, a look back at the theatre rehearsals that lead up to a revolutionary production of Julius Caesar, one directed by the 22 year old Orson Welles; framing the tale is also a coming-of-age romance between young Zac Efron and one of two young women he meets as he is hired by Welles to play a bit part in the play--for those with some knowledge of the Mercury Theatre, its fascinating to see a spot-on impersonation of young Joseph Cotten played by Joseph Tupper, but the entire joy of the film is meeting Orson himself in the person of Christian McKay, who seems imbued with the spirit of the man in an uncanny revelatory performance, worth all 107 minutes of the film. This is a film for folks interested in theatre or the cinema, and will doubtless be lost on those in search of realistic action adventures--there's just a hint of early Woody Allen in the film, too--and my hope is that someone is already looking for a another, more complex look at the Boy Genius starring McKay.. 4 stars 11-16-13

Bruce Bruce

Super Reviewer

In yet another fictional biopic (like My Week With Marilyn), Me And Orson Welles is about a larger than life character,and a time and a place. The year is 1937 and Welles is set to produce and star in his groundbreaking interpretation of Julius Caesar. Just as Marilyn gets inside the film industry, here we get a wonderful peak inside a Broadway production (and as an added bonus a radio production as well).

While the story may be a tried and true method - young high schooler is in the right place at the right time and fate allows him to be included in the production of Caesar - where the film truly shines is when it focuses on the production and the whirlwind who stirs the drink, Orson Welles. In a fantastic and Oscar worthy performance Christian McKay brings the man to life, warts and all. His charisma, his charm, his insecurities are all on display and after the first five minutes you truly feel that you are watching Welles in action.

Director Richard Linklater wonderfully decided to film this piece in a decidedly 1940-50's noir style. From the way each scene is set up to the way the characters interact - all solidly inside the genre.

The ensemble acting is solid as is the brazen, self confident youth portrayed by Zac Efron, and the so called love interest in the story, portrayed by Claire Danes. It all works, but it is McKay as Welles who demands your attention. The script has a few flaws and occasionally teeters towards the melodrama that you find in the noir style, but there are gems aplenty here. For example, when a couple of actors are talking with Efron and saying that in a book, all the "action" (read sex) takes place during the quadruple space. Meaning that the book will give you a lead up like "they looked longingly into each others eyes and then she reached over and turned out the lights". "The next morning..." - see, the action happened during those extra spaces.

There is also a wonderful scene where Welles reads a segment of The Magnificent Ambersons (which he later made into a film) to Efron and then manages to ad lib the passage into a radio broadcast he takes part in an hour later.

Through it all you get a glimpse at the genius that was Welles through his production of Julius Caesar. In 1937 fascism was on the rise, so staging the play in modern garb gave an entirely different spin to the tale. You also see how Welles was in control of every aspect of the production - this was his vision, from stage cues to how and when the orchestra would be heard from. The filming of opening night was wonderful and the film could have easily ended with Welles looking out at the standing ovation and asking himself "how am I going to ever top this?" That the film didn't end here was a slight misstep, as it tried to show that the film was really more about Efron than Welles - but we all know better.

paul sandberg

Super Reviewer


Me and Orson Welles is a great example of one person's performance making the film. I really enjoyed the film, it looked ok - although I think Richard Linklater could have done better visually and the supporting cast did ok with what they had (Claire Danes good, Eddie Marsan underused again, Ben Chaplin overlooked once more). It is Christian McKay portrayal of Orson Welles that really makes the film, without him I wonder how good it would have been. It did make me wish I had a time machine so I could go back to NY of 1937 and see the show though!

Anthony Lawrie

Super Reviewer

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this movie. A lot of this comes from Christian McKay's spot-on role as Orson Welles, with all the self-constructed grandeur that came with him. The rest of the cast, while slightly pushed from the spotlight by McKay, is excellent all around, with virtually no exceptions. It's also incredibly interesting how Zac Efron, as an actor, is reflected in the character he plays. His character, Richard, claims at the film's beginning that he's only been in school productions, but tries throughout the course of the film to prove himself as a true actor. This movie also happens to be Efron's own attempts to prove himself as a viable lead after being "The Highschool Musical Guy". While I won't say if his character succeeds in the movie, he certainly succeeds at the role - by the end of the movie, I had accepted him as much more than the cheap Disney star he once appeared to be.

Sam Barnett
Sam Barnett

Super Reviewer

Me and Orson Welles Quotes

Orson Welles (Brutus): Those back-doors don't open for Jesus Christ himself!
– Submitted by Nik M (2 years ago)
Orson Welles (Brutus): Consonants, consonants, consonants...and don't forget the vowels.
– Submitted by Nik M (2 years ago)
Orson Welles (Brutus): That's all we need: a dozen critics with wet asses.
– Submitted by Nik M (2 years ago)
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.
– Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
Orson Welles (Brutus): Look at us, Runyon. Me without my story and you without your girl. We can't ever tell what will happen at all, can we? Once I stood in Grand Central Station to say goodbye to a pretty girl. I was wild about her. In fact, we decided we couldn't live without each other, and we were to be married. When we came to say goodbye we knew we wouldn't see each other for almost a year. I thought I couldn't live through it - and she stood there crying. Well, I don't even know where she lives now, or if she is living. If she ever thinks of me at all, she probably imagines I'm still dancing in some ballroom somewhere... Life and money both behave like quicksilver in a nest of cracks. And when they're gone we can't tell where - or what the devil we did with 'em...
– Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)

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