What does a Geek God do on vacation? He gets all his friends together, bends the laws of time constraint, and makes an awesome movie, that’s what.
As if he wasn’t already busy enough directing Marvel’s The Avengers, supervising the Buffy and Angel comic books with Dark Horse, and finally ushering Cabin in the Woods to the big screen, Joss Whedon has just announced that he has adapted and directed a modern version of Shakespeare’s comedy Much Ado About Nothing for film.
Whedonites, you may do the Dance of Joy. I’ll wait.
The project–which lasted only a month from inception to production and then twelve days of filming–was kept top-secret, and brought together several Whedonverse favorites including Amy Acker (Angel, Dollhouse) as Beatrice, Alexis Denisof (Buffy, Angel) as Benedick, Nathan Fillion (Firefly, Buffy, Serenity, Dr. Horrible) as Dogberry, Sean Maher (Firefly, Serenity) as Don John, Fran Kranz (Dollhouse) as Claudio, and Tom Lenk (Buffy) as Verges. Much like Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, Much Ado About Nothing is a true Whedon family production, with Whedon’s wife Kai Cole, brother Jed Whedon, and sister-in-law Maurissa Tancharoen working behind the scenes as well.
The entire film was shot at Whedon’s house in Santa Monica, California, which was designed by Whedon’s architect wife Kai Cole. According to an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Much Ado About Nothing was supposed to be Whedon and Cole’s vacation to Italy after principal photography wrapped on The Avengers. Instead, Whedon got inspired. It was time to do a little Shakespeare.
Whedon told EW:
There is an element of “I have a serious problem” — that’s one thing. And then there’s an element of this is the best vacation I’ve ever taken. I mean, yes, it was super hard, it was a ton of work, and there were moments where I went, “What’s wrong with me? What am I thinking about? I need to rest!” But I’ve never been so well rested and so well fed as I have on this movie. You know, you make the time, because no one’s going to make it for you. There’s never going to be a good time to do it. You make the time and you make it work if you really, really want it. And I really did.
According to EW, Whedon has been hosting Shakespeare readings at his home for years, inviting cast and crew from his various projects to participate. Three years ago, Amy Acker and Alexis Denisoff read the leads for Much Ado About Nothing and a spark went off in Whedon’s head. Thus a modern adaptation of Much Ado was born, using all the original language, but in a contemporary setting.
The hardest part about the production was keeping it a secret, according to Acker. “I think it was mostly making sure Nathan [Fillion] didn’t tweet about it. That’s how all news in the world seems to spread.” Much Ado was a very organic production, with the costume designer choosing the costumes from the actors’ wardrobes, and the various actors signing on after personal invitations from Whedon. Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen wrote an original song for the film, and Jed Whedon is scoring the project.
Why Much Ado About Nothing? Well, why not? Whedon is known for making projects that speak to our normal human experience in extraordinary ways: The supervillain too afraid to talk to the pretty girl at the laundromat, fighting literal monsters in order to survive high school. Much Ado is much the same way. Whedon told EW:
I had trouble at first, because it had the words “About Nothing” in the title. So I was like, “I don’t have anything to say about nothing.” But really when I started pouring over it, I got a very strong sense of how a little bit dark and twisted it is. The movie’s in black-and-white partially because it’s kind of a noir comedy. I realized that everybody in it behaves like such a dolt — an articulate dolt, but a dolt. I fixated on this notion that our ideas of romantic love are created for us by the society around us, and then escape from that is grown-up love, is marriage, is mature love, to escape the ideals of love that we’re supposed to follow. So that clicked for me when I realized, oh, I get why it matters everybody goes through the weird machinations we go through.
How ever did Whedon find the time and resources to pull Much Ado together? Well, do you actually believe the man operates within the same space-time continuum as the rest of us?
Can’t stop the signal: Much Ado About Nothing will be released for the film festival circuit. There are no details yet on a theatrical or online release (highly likely given Dr. Horrible‘s success). You can check out the press release and full cast list at MuchAdoTheMovie.com.
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