Entertainment Weekly (2011)
October 24, 2011
After wrapping production on Marvel Studios’ gargantuan summer tent-pole The Avengers, writer-director Joss Whedon was supposed to go on a monthlong vacation with his wife, Kai Cole. Instead, Whedon tells EW exclusively that his wife suggested he finally make the feature film version of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing he’d been ruminating over for years.
And so he did — adapting the script, casting the film with Whedonverse alums like Nathan Fillion, Amy Acker (Angel), Alexis Denisof (Buffy, Angel), and Sean Maher (Firefly), and shooting the self-funded, black-and-white indie in secret over 12 days at his Santa Monica, Calif., home. (Production wrapped on Sunday, and Whedon says it will be ready for spring 2012 film festivals.) How did Whedon pull all this off? What was it about this particular Shakespeare comedy that drew him in? And what did stars Sean Maher — who plays the fiendish villain Don John — and Amy Acker — who co-stars with Denisof as the sarcastic, talky couple at the center of the play — make of all of this ado about Much Ado? Check out EW’s exclusive Q&As with Whedon, Maher, and Acker below, as well as exclusive shots of Maher, Denisof and Acker from the film:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: This announcement took people by surprise to say the least. How did this all come together?
JOSS WHEDON: Well, it’s not a bit secret that I’ve done these [Shakespeare] readings before, and I always had a vague notion of shooting Much Ado. But I didn’t really have a take on it. And then, for some reason, I kinda sorta did. As we were finishing The Avengers in New York, my wife and I were planning our vacation for our 20th anniversary. And she said, “Let’s not take the vacation. Make a movie instead.”
[Q&A extract featuring Amy Acker]
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Joss told me he had done a reading of the play with you and Alexis. Do you remember when that was?
AMY ACKER: I feel like it was maybe three years ago? Somewhere around that time.
And he’s been doing these for a while?
Yeah, since even before I met him. When I came on to Angel, which was a long time ago, he had already been doing them for awhile. For several years we would do, like, them every month, and then we’ll go three years and not do one. Then he would bring everybody back and kind of get on a roll with it again. There’s usually a group of people whose always there, and then he picks up new people each time.
When did you get the call that he’d be doing Much Ado About Nothing as a film?
I think it was about three weeks before we started. Maybe two-and-a-half. I know when Clark Gregg decided that he was going to do it, there had been some other people who were maybe going to play that part, and then they had conflicts that came up, so he kind of came in and saved the day at the end. He was like, “Well I only had four days to learn all of the lines,” and I was like, “Yeah, we all found out last week, so don’t feel too bad.” [Laughs]
Do you know who was going to be playing Leonato before Clark?
What went through your head when you got the call. That was the end of September?
Yeah, right towards the end of September. I mean, first of all I was like, “Sure, that sounds awesome!” Alexis and I met with Joss maybe one or two times right after we decided that we were doing it, and then we rehearsed kind of the week before. But when we showed up the first day, I was like, “Oh, this is a real movie!” We didn’t quite know what it was going to be, and seeing all of the trucks and the lights and everything, everyone was kind of like, “Oh, we really are doing a movie!”
How did Joss explain keeping this a secret?
Well, he basically just said, “We’re not going to tell anyone until we finish.” Luckily since everyone was scrambling to learn their lines and figure out what the heck they were doing, no one really had time. I think it was mostly making sure Nathan didn’t tweet about it. That’s how all news in the world seems to spread. [Laughs]
What were those 12 days like? Anything really stick out?
Oh geez, the whole thing was really awesome. I mean, it was all my favorite people, so we were all just hanging out in their amazing house, and we just kind of had to keep reminding ourselves that, “Oh wait, we’re actually working!” It just kind of felt like a big 12-day party.
What was the look of the film? How did it all look?
The costume designer went shopping in all of our closets, and she just sort of chose. We are all wearing our own clothes, and then she kind of added little pieces here and there.
Did you conclude filming yesterday? The website is already up…
Yeah. I think they had [the site] ready on Saturday, when we were shooting. From what it looks like, I wasn’t actually filming at the end of the day yesterday, so I wasn’t there, but it seems like they must have posted it the second they wrapped the film.
Why do you think Joss did this film, and did it so quickly?
I thought it was just because he was super cool. I think his wife and him were going to Italy for a vacation, and then she was kind of like, “Why don’t you just shoot that movie you’ve been wanting to do instead?” So, that’s sort of why it happened now. She’s kind of just really amazing. She built the house that it shot in. You know, she just kind of makes stuff happen. If Kai says something, then she like, actually does it every time.
Wait, Kai designed the house?
Yeah, she’s an architect. She built it and designed it and decorated it and everything. Pretty much you could just film the house without all of us talking in it, and it would be a really great movie.
What kind of style?
I’m not sure if it’s from France or Italy, but everything is old and warm and it’s just the most welcoming place ever.