Zac Efron will star in "Me and Orson Welles," an adaptation of the period coming-of-age novel by Robert Kaplow that Richard Linklater will direct.
Set in 1937, the story centers on a high school student (Efron) who, while strolling the streets of New York, happens upon the yet-to-open Mercury Theatre and is noticed by its mercurial founder, Orson Welles. The man lands a bit part in "Julius Caesar," the production that catapulted Welles to the top, and spends the next week learning about life and love.
Newcomer Christian McKay will play Welles. Ben Chaplin ("Water Horse: The Legend of the Deep") has been cast as English film and stage actor George Coulouris.
The script was written by Holly Gent Palmo, who was a production coordinator on Linklater's "Dazed and Confused," and Vince Palmo, who was first assistant director on several of the helmer's films.
Anne Carli, who worked on Linklater's "Fast Food Nation," is a producer on the project, which is independently financed.
With "Welles," Efron continues to show that he is more than a one-trick pony by rounding out his acting curriculum vitae beyond his "High School Musical" identity. The actor will return to shooting the New Line comedy "Seventeen" after he recovers from his appendectomy.
Efron then will shoot "Welles," a more mature piece of work, in mid-February and March in such locales as New York, London and the Isle of Man, whose Gaiety Theatre is being booked for the production. He then returns to the franchise that launched him to fame, filming Disney's "High School Musical 3: Senior Year" in mid-April.