San Francisco Film Critics pick Christian McKay as the years best supporting actor for his role in ME AND ORSON WELLES
In 1994 I had the great pleasure of talking with the veteran film actor Martin Landau for over two hours about his role playing Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton's wonderful movie Ed Wood. Mr. Landau went on to win an Academy Award the following year.
I also had the pleasure of talking with the rising young actor, Christian McKay about playing Orson Welles in a film I believe he may well be nominated for as the "Best Supporting Actor" Academy Award. However, I'm afraid the odds are now rising against him, due rather ironically to the publicists of his own movie!
In fact, I must say these mistakes seem to have been made primarily by a former New Line Cinema publicist, Elissa Greer-Arko, who I gather is the lady in charge of the terrible publicity campaign that Freestyle releasing has mounted for Me and Orson Welles.
As Mick LaSalle notes, in his article in The San Francisco Chronicle, Christian McKay is being touted as best actor in the DVD screeners that are being sent out to Academy members.
Yet every award Mr. McKay has so far received has been as "Best supporting actor." So you can see how foolish it is to try and position Mr. McKay as a nominee for "Best Actor."
All I can say, is if I was in charge, and of course, I'm not, I would immediately terminate Ms. Greer-Arko. She clearly knows nothing about Orson Welles or anything about the film she is supposed to be promoting!
Every indication shows that the film tracks well with older viewers, but the so-called Zac Efron fans have not showed up. This can easily be confirmed by market research, but Freestyle has marketed the film as if teenagers will be rushing out to see it.
What I can also say is what a terrible job Elissa did as a New Line Cinema publicist on Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movies.
I can personally attest I actually had to call and implore producer Barrie Osborne to get photos released to me for the over 100 pages of favorable material I wrote on the the three films in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy!
Thankfully, as can be seen in my interview with Cristian McKay, below, he insisted talking with me for more than the scant 15 minutes that were initially "allotted" by Ms. Greer-Arko.
CHRISTIAN McKAY: You know I got another nomination today and it surprised the hell out of me. I got a text message from a friend saying congratulations for your nomination from the Independent Spirit Awards. I didn't even know what they were. But how did you like my performance in the movie?
LAWRENCE FRENCH: Oh, I really liked it. In fact, I think you have a very good shot at an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor, although Elissa Greer, the woman in charge at Freestyle Releasing told me they will be pushing you in the “Best Actor” category. I must say I think she is making a terrible mistake, because it will only confuse Academy voters and probably split the vote, so you will probably end up not getting nominated in either category!
CHRISTIAN McKAY: Well, it seems to me it’s none of my business. They all go off in these little huddles and meetings, and I’m a rookie so I really don’t know. I haven’t read many reviews, but they tell me occasionally about a good review but they don’t tell me about the bad ones. Of course actors are more interested in the bad ones, because all actors are masochists. (laughter.)
LAWRENCE FRENCH: Elissa also refused to allow you to talk to Wellesnet for more than 15 minutes while you were in San Francisco, so I must say I don't think she knows what is best for the movie or any thing about Orson Welles, for that matter!
CHRISTIAN McKAY: Well, they started to tell me that today and I said "NO." They said, but you have to have your dinner, and I said, "well, we can have our dinner together." I told them there is no problem as far as I am concerned. The most important person for me to talk to is the Welles scholar! But sometimes they over complicate things and I don't have a a personal publicist and I wouldn't want one, quite frankly.
LAWRENCE FRENCH: Do you really prefer to look at the bad reviews?
CHRISTIAN McKAY: Only from a safe distance, but sometimes they can be very useful, especially if they are constructive. This is a very honest admission, but we both love the old man so I don’t mind admitting it, but I almost feel guilty when people say they like the performance!
LAWRENCE FRENCH: There really haven’t been many bad notices for the movie, and almost none for your performance, but I did read one I thought was completely absurd because they complained that nothing dramatic happens in the story. Apparently they were expecting to see explosions or car crashes!
CHRISTIAN McKAY: Yes, as if the recreation of the greatest American Shakespeare performance isn’t dramatic enough.
LAWRENCE FRENCH: If you do get nominated for best supporting actor, you will be up against Christoph Waltz in Inglorious Basterds? Did you see that movie?
CHRISTIAN McKAY: Yes, I did and I thought he gave a really marvelous performance!
LAWRENCE FRENCH: Besides Christoph Waltz, there is Christopher Plummer to consider, who did quite a fabulous job as Leo Tolstoy. And Christopher Plummer has never even been nominated! He also recently did King Lear on Broadway, and it was a big critical success.
CHRISTIAN McKAY: I'd love to play King Lear. It's so exhausting, although Laurence Olivier played it when he was only two years older than me, but he was Olivier. Somebody asked me what my ideal Shakespearian role would be and I said Richard III. I'd also rather play King Lear than Hamlet, although I'd still love to play Hamlet.
LAWRENCE FRENCH: That reminds me of something Morris Carnovsky told me. "Everything in Shakespeare is rewarding. You can’t compare one part to the exclusion of another." So if you are a Shakespearian actor, as both Morris and Orson Welles were, you'd like to play in as many of the the great parts Shakespeare wrote as is possible. Then, later on when I talked to Vincent Price he told me the three roles of Shakespeare's he really wanted to do where King Lear, Shylock and Prospero.
CHRISTIAN McKAY as Orson Welles
Nomination and Awards tally:
Best Supporting Actor
Nominated for a British Independent Film Award in 'Most promising Newcomer' category
Variety on Christian McKay's chances as a nominee for "Best Supporting Actor."
"McKay turns in one of the year's most compelling turns as the iconic filmmaker working on the 1937 Broadway production of "Julius Caesar." McKay captures both Welles' brilliance and high-strung temper.
Christian McKay chances as a BAFTA nominee for "Best Supporting Actor."