Though Me & Orson Welles is far from being a High School Musical wannabe (HSM rating: brief, restrained dancing scenes, two instances of singing) you’d be forgiven thinking the whole of East High had arrived in Leicester Square last night as Zac Efron turned up and the crowd went wild.
Playing a young actor in one of Orson Welles first theatre productions on Broadway, Zac Efron, the teenybopper’s idol of choice, is keen to shed his singin’ an’ dancin’ musical image - but that doesn’t stop hordes of teenage girls screaming his name, waggling their posters and occasionally swooning from his sheer dreamboatiness.
Charm personified, dressed up in an immaculate suit, his hair perfect, totally at ease while women shrieked and fainted nearby, Efron was mostly keen to compliment his costar, the newcomer Christian McKay.
“You heard the guy talk? He’s the most charismatic individual I’ve ever heard speak’ – which from Zac was praise indeed.
He went on to say, “He’s a quick study that guy! In a matter of weeks Christian had completely transformed into his character, had fully immersed himself in a manner I can’t even come close to, so I learned a lot more from Christian than he ever could from me.”
Asked as to whether he’s used to all these adoring fans, he sighed and replied “I should be, I know… I’m out of practice, I guess.”
Christian McKay was everything Efron said he was and more, loquacious and charming in that way Rada-alumni make their very own, but also modest and self-effacing about his performance as one of America’s biggest cultural names.
“Getting the part was diabolical divine luck that I’d only read about, being at the right place at the right time.”
“Richard saw me doing theatre in New York, and he started talking about Orson Welles – and I remembered him as the large, gargantuan man mountain and I said ‘I’m not that fat!’”
“I also thought there was no way they could cast an unknown English actor as a great American icon, a complete unknown, and it would have been so much easier to have made the film without me – but Richard said, ‘ You’re my Orson; you can do it!”
Dressed in a cowboy shirt and with a spring in his step, the mastermind behind it all, Richard Linklater, told us just how good Zac Efron is: “He’s perfect, I thought, because he’s got that leading man kind of charisma , and I learnt it early on, you don’t underestimate Zac, he’s always a couple of steps ahead of you – he’s a poker player… and he will take your money.”
He added, saying “It’s an intimidating proposition doing a film about Orson Welles, but it’s one week in his life, and he’s young, he’s 22, so I felt it might work. It’s still pretty daunting but I think I’ve got a pretty good take on his early, young life, before his film career. Before people even knew him, even.”
Me & Orson Welles is out on 4th December.