It’s tempting, if you’re tempted by clichés, to call Orson Welles “larger than life.” But he was after all an ordinary mortal, however prodigious his gifts and imposing his persona. He was also, among other things, a struggling artist, and his travails should be familiar to anyone who’s sought creative fulfillment in a practical world.
One person who saw past the Wellesian myth and beheld the man was the filmmaker Henry Jaglom. Their friendship began in 1970, when the upstart Jaglom impertinently asked Welles to be in his first movie (A Safe Place) and the master improbably assented, and it continued until Welles’s death in 1985. They were frequent dining companions at LA’s then-trendy Ma Maison, and Henry recorded many of their conversations. Now film historian Peter Biskind has transcribed and edited some of the Welles-Jaglom tapes into a book, My Lunches with Orson. Though the dishy parts have drawn most of the media attention, I was more interested in the sheer breadth and insight (both Orson’s and Henry’s) on display. In this interview, Henry Jaglom describes the Orson Welles he knew and loved.
Great interview with OW and Dick Cavett, circa 1970.