Interviewing one actor or filmmaker can have its challenges, even though the interview is enjoyable. Interviewing three people at once ... there's definitely a juggling aspect involved, especially if they've been working together, doing a lot of interviews together, and aren't afraid to step on one another's answers. I wish I'd brought a video camera to record my time with Me and Orson Welles director Richard Linklater and co-stars Zac Efron and Christian McKay, because they were such an entertaining trio. (They're not bad looking, either.) McKay stars in his film debut as Welles, whom he has also portrayed on stage, and Efron plays a teenager who finds himself on the fringes of the Mercury Players as they stage Julius Caesar in 1937 New York.
Cinematical was able to grab only five minutes or so with the three gentlemen from Me and Orson Welles during a recent press day in Austin -- in that limited amount of time, all my in-depth, probing questions were thrown by the wayside in favor of a few general queries all three could answer. Someday I would love to spend an hour with these guys. But even a short interview was a great deal of fun, and my only regret is that the rapport between the filmmaker and actors does not quite translate to text. Check out Cinematical's review from last year's premiere in Toronto for more details about the film, which also stars Claire Danes. If we can't spend more time with the trio in person, we can at least watch two of them onscreen in this charming comedy.
Cinematical: Me and Orson Welles was adapted by Vincent and Holly Gent Palmo from a novel by Robert Kaplow. But I'm wondering what you each brought to the film that was personal to you -- to your character, or as the filmmaker?
Richard Linklater: I think everyone involved brought a lot of their personal experiences. Everyone in theater and film, we all have this experience over and over, of creating art in a group setting. That's what attracted me to this story so much initially -- the depiction of the ensemble. And not to mention, the great moment in Welles' life.
But the backstage story, I don't know if I have one of those of my own conjuring. Films are usually autobiographical, but mine aren't that dramatic. I've found it a lot more comfortable finding my way into this story to express whatever I had to say about what goes on behind the curtain.
Zac Efron: I've shared a lot of experiences with Richard [Efron's character] about the theater. The way that the story unfolds, it was very reminiscent of my years in the theater, growing up. [Laughing] I'm talking like it was many years ago. I did a lot of theater growing up, musical theater, all kinds of different stuff. And the way I was able to get wrapped up in that world and leave my other life behind was very much a feeling I can empathize with.
Christian McKay: It's my first film, so I've tried to bring my Orson to the table, what I've learned about him -- it's the best part I've ever been offered to play. I think I brought a confidence of ignorance.
Cinematical: What a lovely phrase, "a confidence of ignorance."
Christian McKay: It's not mine; it's Orson's, I'm afraid. But I empathize with it a lot.
Cinematical: Zac, did you actually have to learn to play a lute for the film?
Zac Efron: Yes, I had to learn those chords, definitely. And then all of the in-between moments where I just annoyingly play different songs -- I think by the end I could put it all together into a little bit of a song.
Christian McKay: And flicking the matches as well, it was an extraordinarily difficult trick to do that. It was great for the movie. You taught yourself that?
Zac Efron: Yeah, that was a cool opportunity.
Richard Linklater: You have to consider learning those Mark Twain type of little-boy tricks to impress the ladies.
Zac Efron: Exactly. Every time I see something like that, I pick it up. And I think Richard [Efron's character] is probably the same way.
Cinematical: What kind of film haven't you worked on yet, that you'd love to work on in the future?
Christian McKay: High School Musical, for me.
Zac Efron: [Laughing] An "adult" film.
Richard Linklater: I'd like a do a full-blown musical at some point, but I don't know what the story is. I don't know what the right thing is, the right way in. You've got to find the right story.
Zac Efron: I've got one. You could remake Xanadu.
Richard Linklater: Yeah? You in? Okay, you heard it first here.
Zac Efron: I'd love to try every genre at some point.
Christian McKay: Especially adult films?
Zac Efron: [Laughing] Don't take that seriously.
Cinematical: Now tell us what you really are going to work on next. Probably not an adult film.
Zac Efron: Not at all. Really, I'm just kidding, really sincerely just kidding.
Christian McKay: Blame that on me.
Zac Efron: I've finished a movie called The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud, it is slightly more adult. It's a drama, it's got some supernatural elements. It's a story about the bond of two brothers, it's pretty neat.
Christian McKay: I've got another film, believe it or not. A film called Mr. Nice, where I play a crack MI6 spy. It's about a wonderful hippie drug smuggler called Howard Marx. Rhys Ifans plays him, the great Welsh actor. And my shoulder is appearing in a couple of scenes in the next Woody Allen film.
Cinematical: Your shoulder?
Christian McKay: That's all I could get onscreen. But that was a wonderful experience, seeing the great man. I nearly broke his hand when I shook it. He plays the clarinet, I went, "Steinway and Sons." He didn't get that joke.
Richard Linklater: I have a few scripts -- things I've been developing, working on. I've not sure what is next.
Cinematical: We keep hearing about this sort of "spiritual sequel" to Dazed and Confused, is that a possibility?
Richard Linklater: It's a college comedy I'm trying to make. I also have a true crime story that's set in East Texas I'm trying to do, and a film set in the Middle Ages I'm trying to do. I don't know which of those three will be next. Who knows?
Christian McKay: That's a pretty eclectic group.
Richard Linklater: If I get one of those made, I'll be lucky.
Me and Orson Welles is now playing in a limited number of cities, and will be expanding on December 11.