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Me and Orson Welles (2008) - Plot Summary Poster

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  • 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 one week's time. In turn, Welles realizes that his name will either be strengthened or ruined in the theater community by this production. Richard is taken under the wing by the production's Jane-of-All-Trades, Sonja Jones. Known as the Ice Queen by the male cast, Sonja deflects much of the unwanted sexual attention by jokingly implying that she and Richard are having a fling, which Richard wants nothing more than to be the truth. As the end of the week and opening night approaches, Richard, having seen Welles' behavior, has to decide if acting in this production is worth it at any cost.

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  • In 1937, a teenager is cast in the Mercury Theatre production of "Julius Caesar", directed by a young Orson Welles.


Spoilers

The synopsis below may give away important plot points.

Synopsis

  • New York, 1937: RICHARD SAMUELS (17) is bored with school and dreams of treading the boards on Broadway. After a chance encounter with a theatre company outside a derelict theatre, The Mercury, Richard soon finds himself inside chatting with Orson Welles, the Director of Broadways first Shakespearean production, Julius Caesar. Welles is a bullish, competitive character who is having an affair with the leading lady, MURIEL BRASSLER, despite his wife VIRGINIAS pregnancy. Richard plays on Welles egotistical nature and manages to bluff his way into the role of Lucius; Welles swiftly couples him with the gorgeous production assistant SONJA JONES (20), to rehearse. Richard, along with the rest of the crew, is captivated by Sonjas vivacity and ability to manage everything behind the scenes by schmoozing all the right people. It soon becomes apparent that she is willing to do anything to get her big break. As rehearsals progress Richards total lack of acting ability becomes increasingly apparent and the rest of the company begin to express their concern over the state of the production. However, the wildly flirtatious Orson is too busy conducting radio interviews and seducing young women to take note, whilst Sonja seems more intent on furthering her career and her relationship with Richard. When Orson decides the company would benefit from a team-building game which involves everyone pairing off and going for a drink, Richard cheats to ensure he is paired with Sonja. Their date goes well and after spending the night together Richard declares his love for her at the theatre, the following day. His declaration is met with an indifferent response from Sonja and at the preview matinee she tells him she is to spend the night with Orson. The day of the opening, Richard is distraught to discover that Sonja slept with Orson because he promised to introduce her to Selznick, the producer of Gone With the Wind. After an argument Orson fires Richard and he storms out. Orson finds him on a park bench and apologises and Richard agrees to return to the production. The opening night is a success but its short-lived for Richard as he soon learns that Orsons apology was merely a ruse to ensure a successful first night and Orson has secured a child actor to take over Richards role. To add insult to injury, as Richard sees Sonja waiting outside the Theatre for Selznik to pick her up he learns that Sonja knew of Orsons plan all along. Richards return to normality hits him hard: he tells his family he quit because it didnt pay and he returns to school and decides to pursue a career in writing instead of acting: he has an idea for a novel about a celebrity genius.

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