Female First (2013)
June 14, 2013
Amy Acker reunites with director Joss Whedon this week as she takes on the role of Beatrice in his adaptation of the William Shakespeare play Much Ado About Nothing.
We caught up with the actress to chat about the film, tackling this iconic character and reunited with Whedon.
– Much Ado About Nothing is set to hit the big screen this week so can you tell me a little bit about the film?
The story is a well known Shakespeare play that has become the template for all romantic comedies that have followed. It is just a great story that Joss has brought his own modern, romantic and sexy take to.
We had no expectations of what this could be and the fact that it is being seen by anyone has exceeded our expectations.
– You take on the role of Beatrice in the film so what was it about this character and the script that really drew you to the project?
This is a character that I have loved since I read the play in high school; I would be lying if didn’t say I have sat alone in my bedroom saying the words out loud.
I think it is just one of the best written parts as she is an amazingly strong woman who is so much before her time. I think of Beatrice as a role model for me as a person as well: I wish that I could be like her in real life (laughs).
My first job out of college I played Hero and as a young actress looking up to the actress playing Beatrice it made me know that this was what I really wanted to do.
– You have slightly touched on my next question really as taking on a Shakespeare play of any kind can be a daunting thing so what kind of Shakespeare experience have you had in the past?
I was really lucky because I had an English teacher in high school that was passionate and excited about Shakespeare and shared it with us in a way that made me fall in love with it from the beginning.
In college I went to theatre school that had a summer programme in New Mexico that was a Shakespeare intensive. So we camped out and did a Shakespeare camp; that was a really fun way to get to know his work.
After college I was working at the American Player’s Theatre I got to this play and other classics. I loved all of that and it really was a very exciting way to start my acting career.
– Some people may not be familiar with this play and this story so how are we going to see the character of Beatrice develop throughout the film?
The really cool thing about this movie is that Joss adds an unwritten and silent scene at the beginning of the film that really informs her and Benedick’s history.
It really makes it clear some of the lines that come along later that are always been open to interpretation of what their past exactly was. We decided what we interpreted that to be and then shot it; there is not question as to what has happened with them.
I think you see the place that she is coming from and you see the amazing journey of a woman who is fighting love but eventually succumbs to it.
– The movie sees you reunite with Joss Whedon as he is back in the director’s chair so how did you find working with him and what makes you want to keep on working with him?
I have always loved working with him because I think his writing is just incredible as he writes characters that are so relatable and complex.
Getting to do a television series with him you have no idea what journey you are going to take or what the character is going to do from one scene to the next. So I have always loved his writing.
When I am trying to think of a scene that I have to show someone because I want to get a job or show my best work I always think ’well which scene did Joss direct?’
He just has an ability to bring stuff out of people and open scenes up to ways that you never imagined when you are reading it on the page; even with his great writing. He adds so much more to that as a director.
– How collaborative a filmmaker is he when you are developing a character?
At least he makes you feel that you are helping to come up with the ideas – he may have had them planned all along (laughs).
We had just twelve days to make this movie and we found out three weeks before that we were going to start shooting. He was at Marvel editing that other little movie he was doing.
Luckily had trust in Alexis (Denisof) and I to do a lot of the work on our own and we would take ideas that we had found and show them to him; he would them extend on them and we would extend on that. It is the best sort of collaboration that there is.
– The movie was shot in just twelve days so how did you find working under such tight time constraints? Do you like working that way?
For all of us I think it helped that we had all worked with Joss before, for the most part, and we all had a similar enthusiasm for the project; no one was doing it for money everyone was doing it because we loved the play, we loved the characters and we loved each other. We were just excited to be there.
When Joss is happy about something that he is making it really is infectious and I think everyone had experienced how great it is to have Joss doing a project that he loves and cares about previously.
We all went into it knowing that all wanted to have that same feeling and have him be as happy about this project as all of the others.
– How have you found the response to the film so far?
We have really had not idea that the film would even be seen when Joss called and asked us to do it; for all we knew it was going to be a home video for us to look at on our own.
So the fact that it has all been one surprise after another – it got bought, it has been distributed, it is coming out in more theatres and people are loving it has just been really exciting.
We did the project because we loved it and it is nice to that that is coming across on the screen.
– Throughout you career you have moved between TV and film so how do you find the two mediums compare? And how easy it is to move between the two?
For me as an actress I feel that it is not that dissimilar – I think it is probably a bigger change for the director as on film they have more time and more shots. But as an actress it is just all about trying to tell the story and do the work.
– Finally what is next for you?
I am doing another movie this summer. I have been on Person of Interest and after season from the season finale I should be, hopefully, coming back.
Much Ado About Nothing is out now.