By Fred Topel | Image property of Freestyle Releasing
Claire Danes plays the leading lady of Hollywood’s biggest legend in Me and Orson Welles. She may never have crossed paths with Welles in Hollywood, but she got to play Sonja Jones in a dramatization of Welles’ 1937 production of Julius Caesar on stage. The film shows how an arrogant Welles bullied his performers into shape.
Claire Danes Talks Me and Orson Welles
“I think the movie talks about that, the confusion of that, and even Sonja says, with someone like Orson, you excuse a lot of behavior,” Danes said. “It’s true. When somebody’s ego is in service of really brilliant, innovative work, it’s hard to criticize their failures as a human sometimes.”
Putting on Me and Orson Welles was a less stressful process than the one the film itself depicts. “We rehearsed mostly with us and Christian [McKay] and Ric[hard Linkalter], for a few days. Then they rehearsed again, the people in the play within the movie, they rehearsed. I wasn’t involved with that.”
Jones is Welles’ girlfriend at the time, but also the object of affection for the entire acting company. A triangle develops when an aspiring actor (Zac Efron) romances Jones under Welles’ nose.
Me and Orson Welles
“She’s written so well, and she was really vivid on the page, so I didn’t have to stretch my imagination too much. She’s bright and she’s ambitious and I’m always impressed by that. I always think that’s a good thing, but especially in that time, when women were discouraged to do that and their goals were more confined, and limited and she’s pretty brazen.”
An educated woman herself, Danes was well versed on Welles before the film. “I discovered Orson Welles in college. My Freshman English professor screened Citizen Kane for us and I wound up writing a 20 page term paper on it. I’m sure I’m not the only one. I think there’s many a term paper dedicated to Orson Welles. So I fell in love with him there, and since then I’ve seen a few other of his films, but didn’t realize he had been such a revolutionary figure in theater as well, and in radio. I mean he was really a maverick in so many different mediums, at such a young age, it’s mind boggling that he accomplished so much.”