Little-known English character actor Christian McKay made a big splash last year in Richard Linklater’s entertaining coming-of-age movie Me and Orson Welles. Playing Welles at the age of 22 (despite being a decade and a half older), he gives a charismatic, larger-than-life portrayal of a charismatic, larger-than-life 20th-century icon.
The first actor in cinema history to have needed to lose weight to play Welles (as he quipped when I saw him introduce a screening of the film last year), McKay is uncannily convincing as the young Welles, whose groundbreaking 1937 New York stage production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar is the pivot around which the film revolves. We witness this legendary show from the point of view of Zac Efron’s stage-struck 17-year-old school kid, the quasi-fictional Richard Samuels, who bluffs his way into Welles’s entourage and gets offered a small role in the play.
“How the hell do I top this?” says McKay’s Welles after the show is a triumph. For Welles, his panic-inducing radio broadcast of War of the Worlds and brilliant Hollywood debut Citizen Kane were just around the corner. What next for McKay?
Released on 12th April.