“I never saw I mean it is just not my de­mo­graphic. I didn’t care what he’d been in” – Lin­klater on Ephron

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film -

occurred to me I needed some­body with real pres­ence or he might dis­ap­pear when set be­side Chris­tian’s Or­son.”

Chris­tian McKay later tells me that, while shoot­ing in the Isle of Man, he and Efron were chased into a tea shop by screech­ing Efronites. In what sounds like a scene from Shaun of the Dead, Chris­tian and Zac hud­dled be­hind the cream horns while a hun­dred teenage girls bel­lowed out­side. Such con­spic­u­ous adu­la­tion must have caused prob­lems on set.

“I don’t think it was ever a prob­lem on the ac­tual set,” Lin­klater says. “I felt sorry for him. He would leave the set and walk out into this hys­ter­i­cal squeal­ing. It re­ally was like The Bea­tles. It is to Zac’s credit that he has re­acted well. He doesn’t like it too much and he doesn’t dis­like it too much. Some ac­tors overdo the neg­a­tive re­ac­tion. Oth­ers soak it up more than they should. I think, like DiCaprio, he’ll move on to do good work.”

Whereas Me and Or­son Welles seems like a slightly off-beam choice for Efron, the pic­ture – though fi­nanced in­de­pen­dently and with some dif­fi­culty – seems like one of Lin­klater’s more con­ven­tional projects. When the di­rec­tor emerged in 1991 with the stag­ger­ingly in­ex­pen­sive, hugely in­flu­en­tial Slacker, pun­dits won­dered which way he would lunge next. Would he re­main an in­de­pen­dent voice or would he al­low him­self to be in­vei­gled into main­stream projects? As it hap­pens, de­spite a few mishaps, Lin­klater has found a way to in­ter­sperse ec­cen­tric, loose-limbed pro­duc­tions such as the Be­fore Sun­set and Be­fore Sun­rise with more com­mer­cial films such as the rau­cous, much loved School of Rock.

“I like every­one in the movie in­dus­try,” he smiles. “Be­cause they like movies. They re­ally do. When I have a film that fits then we all feel very lucky. School of Rock was fun and felt ev­ery bit as much my movie as the oth­ers. But you are aware of the crass pres­sures those guys are un­der. Look, they can’t say no to Trans­form­ers 3.”

None­the­less, the in­de­pen­dent spirit of Austin – Texas’s al­ter­na­tive heart­land – con­tin­ues to surge through Lin­klater’s synapses. He still lives in the city and cel­e­brates a town where “you can meet re­ally cool peo­ple stack­ing gro­ceries”. I guess that guy could have been Richard. Af­ter work­ing on oil rigs, form­ing the Austin film so­ci­ety and knock­ing to­gether a largely un­seen Su­per-8 project called (deep breath) It’s Im­pos­si­ble to Learn to Plow by Read­ing Books, he made it to 28 be­fore break­ing through – and nam­ing a gen­er­a­tion – with the in­flu­en­tial Slacker. An­other year or two in the wilder­ness and he might have given up.

“I guess I al­ways felt that the early stuff might fail. You don’t know,” he says. “I’m still a bit that way with ev­ery film. I still feel I might fail. There’s a par­al­lel uni­verse some­where where the film didn’t work and I am do­ing some­thing else en­tirely.”

Hmm? Self-doubt? Aware­ness that we all have feet of clay? Now, there’s some­thing Rick doesn’t have in com­mon with Or­son Welles.

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