Me and Orson Welles (2009) - Rotten Tomatoes

Me and Orson Welles (2009)

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AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic 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.

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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.

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Cast

Zac Efron
as Richard Samuels (Lucius)
Claire Danes
as Sonja Jones
Christian McKay
as Orson Welles (Brutus)
Ben Chaplin
as George Coulouris (Mark Antony)B11
Zoe Kazan
as Gretta Adler
Eddie Marsan
as John Houseman
Kelly Reilly
as Muriel Brassler (Portia)
James Tupper
as Joseph Cotten (Publius)
Leo Bill
as Norman Lloyd (Cinna the Poet)
Al Weaver
as Sam Leve
Iain McKee
as Vakhtangov
Simon Nehan
as Joe Holland (Julius Caesar)
Imogen Poots
as Lorelei Lathrop
Patrick Kennedy
as Grover Burgess (Ligarius)
Janie Dee
as Mrs. Samuels
Marlene Sidaway
as Grandmother Samuels
Garrick Hagon
as Dr. Mewling
Megan Maczko
as Evelyn Allen (Calpurnia)
Aaron Brown
as Longchamps Kid #1
Travis Oliver
as John Hoyt (Decius)
Nathan Osgood
as Radio Announcer
Robert Wilfort
as Radio Director
Michael Brandon
as Les Tremayne
Saskia Reeves
as Barbara Luddy
Aidan McArdle
as Martin Gabel (Cassius)
Mike McEvoy
as I.L. Epstein
Thomas Arnold
as George Duthie (Artemidorus)
Jo McInnes
as Jeannie Rosenthal
Daniel Tuite
as William Mowry (Flavius)
Emily Allen
as Virginia Welles
John Young
as Longchamps Kid #2
Jools Holland
as Band Leader
Steve Parry
as Mercury Trumpet Player
Jay Irving
as Mercury Percussion Player
David Garbutt
as Mercury French Horn Player
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Critic Reviews for Me and Orson Welles

All Critics (151) | Top Critics (33)

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.

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

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
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
paul sandberg

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

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