Me and Orson Welles (2008)

PG-13  |   |  Drama  |  18 December 2009 (USA)
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In 1937, a teenager is cast in the Mercury Theatre production of "Julius Caesar" directed by a young Orson Welles.



(based on the novel by), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 5 wins & 24 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Evelyn Allen
Walter Ash
Grover Burgess
Shane James Bordas ...
Alessandro Giuggioli ...
Rhodri Orders ...
George Duthie
Martin Gabel
Simon Nehan ...
Joe Holland


In November 1937, high school student and aspiring thespian Richard Samuels takes a day trip into New York City. There, he meets and begins a casual friendship with Gretta Adler, their friendship based on a shared love and goal of a profession in the creative arts. But also on this trip, Richard stumbles across the Mercury Theatre and meets Orson Welles, who, based on an impromptu audition, offers Richard an acting job as Lucius in his modern retelling of Julius Caesar, which includes such stalwart Mercury Theatre players as Joseph Cotten and George Coulouris. Despite others with official roles as producer John Houseman, this production belongs to Welles, the unofficial/official dictator. In other words, whatever Welles wants, the cast and crew better deliver. These requests include everything, even those of a sexual nature. Welles does not believe in conventions and will do whatever he wants, which includes not having a fixed opening date, although the unofficial opening date is in ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


All's fair in love and theater



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for sexual references and smoking | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:


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Release Date:

18 December 2009 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ben ve Orson Welles  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$25,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$63,638 (USA) (27 November 2009)


$1,186,957 (USA) (19 February 2010)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs



Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


While the way in which the film shows a sprinkler system being triggered may not be accurate, the incident shown really did occur, and was indeed set off by the Zac Efron character of the Mercury actor who was playing Lucius at the time, Arthur Anderson. Orson Welles himself described the sprinkler incident during the closing credits of the Mercury Theatre radio broadcast of "Treasure Island" the following year, on July 18, 1938:

"First of all, I'd like you to meet [the actor who played] Jim Hawkins, Junior, our leading man at 14 years old. Last season he made a really startling contribution to the stage history of Shakespeare's plays. This was during the course of some experiments with the Mercury Theatre sprinkler system. As a consequence of what must certainly have been extensive research in that field, he caused it to rain, actually to rain, and copiously to rain where in more than 300 years it has never rained in 'Julius Caesar' before. It rained on Brutus, it rained all over Brutus in the forum. I was Brutus, and I ought to know."

"Now, as dramatic criticism, I found this telling, and even final. But as a surprise item in the funeral scene, I can assure you that the unexpected appearance on the stage of so many gallons of real water created in us all, an impression that was almost overwhelming. Our popular leading man says that he did it all with a match. I don't dare think what he'll do when he's old enough to run for president, but meanwhile, no matter what happens to the plumbing, he can always work for the Mercury. As you've probably discovered, he's something more than a very gifted performer, and as I told you, he's something less than 15."

"His name shall not be withheld: I refer to that fine old actor Arthur Anderson." (Actor George Coulouris was credited as "having escaped 'Rainmaker' Anderson" during that incident.)

At the very end of the broadcast credits, a faint crash is heard in the background, and Welles ad libs, "There is at this moment a disturbance in the control room, and if it isn't a tumbrel, it's Arthur Anderson. It's a good thing the program's over." See more »


When Orson and Richard go to the dressing room to check on George Coulouris, as they turn the corner, Orson is in a suit. When we see them complete the turn in the next shot, Orson has on a black trench coat. See more »


[first lines]
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.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Gilson Lavis is listed as "Drumer" instead of "Drummer". See more »


Featured in Angela and Friends: Episode #1.19 (2009) See more »

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User Reviews

Coming of age in a hurry
6 August 2010 | by (Upstate New York) – See all my reviews

Me and Orson Welles (2008), directed by Richard Linklater, is a fantasy about a fantastic event--the famed Mercury Theatre production of "Julius Caesar," directed by Orson Welles in 1937.

In the 21st Century, setting Shakespeare's plays in modern dress has become a cliché. More than 70 years ago, however, Welles' production, with its clear references to fascism, was bold and daring. It made theater history, and propelled Welles into the limelight.

Teen heartthrob Zac Efron plays Richard Samuels, who is chosen by Welles for the small role of Lucius in the production. Zoe Kazan plays Gretta Adler, a young woman whom Richard meets in the New York Public Library. Claire Danes is Sonja Jones, Welles' assistant, who is rising in the theater world through a combination of intelligence, beauty, devotion to Welles, and her willingness to get into bed with anyone who can help her career.

Effron is outgoing and attractive, Kazan is shy and attractive, and Danes again shows why she was able to captivate TV audiences in "My So-Called Life," and then move on to immense Hollywood success. (Those who know "My So-Called Life" can recognize some of the interesting techniques that Danes developed then, and has since perfected.)

The highest honors in the film, however, belong to Christian McKay, who portrays Welles, and who stars as Brutus in the production. He has an uncanny resemblance to Welles, and his acting in the movie captures the qualities for which Welles was famous--incredible talent and incredible egotism.

Me and Orson Welles is not a truly great or classic film, but it's not fluff, and it's a perfect choice if you want to see an interesting movie about interesting people. The production values are very high, the sets capture New York City in the 1930's, and the acting is wonderful.

We saw this movie on a hotel flat-screen TV . It would probably work better on a large screen, but the small screen version worked well enough. It's definitely a movie worth finding and seeing.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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