Joss Whedon almost became a theatre director
|NEWS - OFFWORLD|
To direct theatre or film, that is the question. Whether 'tis nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of unresponsive audiences, or to take arms against a sea of studio notes...
With Marvel’s upcoming The Avengers (or Marvel Avengers Assemble, as it’s now known in the UK), cult favourite writer-director Joss Whedon looks set to finally establish himself as a blockbuster movie director. However, as with his stories, Whedon’s tastes are not quite so easy to pigeonhole. If all the world's a stage, then Whedon's career has encompassed many, from television to film to comic books to internet musicals.
In an interview with /Film, which has Thor spoilers, for all you silly people who haven’t watched it yet (including spoilers for the end credits scene, for all you silly people who don’t watch to the end of the credits), Tom Hiddleston, who plays Loki in Thor and The Avengers, said that:
“In fact, he [Joss Whedon] has talked about the choice that he had to make in college between theater and film and he almost became a theater director.”
While Whedon would no doubt have made a great theatre director, considering his similarities with Shakespeare, the man considered to be the greatest playwright ever, sticking with such a path would have limited his potential audience. Though Whedon's work tends to appeal more to a smallish, devoted fanbase rather than a mass audience, word-of-mouth has led to many discovering his shows on DVD even after they’ve finished airing on TV, which would be difficult if his efforts were devoted to the world of theatre, even given the occasional filmed productions, such as the recent version of Hamlet starring David Tennant and Patrick Stewart, which was broadcast by the BBC. However, simply choosing to direct theatre probably wouldn’t have stopped Joss Whedon from moving on to other avenues of storytelling, as his storied career to date suggests.
After setting out to be a film director, Joss Whedon then went to TV because he realised that’s where the money was, as he put it. Thus, he followed in his father Tom Whedon's, and paternal grandfather John Whedon's, footsteps, becoming the first ever third-generation television writer. (‘Into every generation is born a Chosen One; one Whedon in all the world. He alone will fight the predictability, the mediocrity, and the forces of clichés…’ Of course, as with Slayers, it turns out there can sometimes be more than one, as Joss’ brothers Jed and Zack then followed him into the TV part of the business that is show, with Jed working on Joss’ most recent show Dollhouse, and Zack writing episodes of acclaimed shows such as Deadwood, Fringe, and Rubicon.)
But soon Joss Whedon fell in love with TV, and went on to create some of the most beloved shows of recent years: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, and, increasingly, the initially underrated Dollhouse.
Tom Hiddleston elaborated on his statements later in the interview:
“I suppose that Joss’ work seems that he has catered to a particular thing, but actually as a fan of the art of acting and the art of filmmaking, theater, and storytelling – his tastes are hugely broad.”
On inspection, the Shakespearean influences are clear in Whedon’s work: they both have a knack for combining high drama and witty, unexpected comedy in compelling, character-driven stories that explore the human condition. And they both capture the immediacy of what the characters are feeling in the moment.
Joss Whedon is arguably the successor to William Shakespeare. (Or perhaps Shakespeare’s successor is Kurt Sutter, whose popular FX biker drama Sons of Anarchy closely resembles a great Shakespearean drama, though perhaps with even more intensity and sheer pathos.)
Joss Whedon's idea of a holiday from making the huge blockbuster The Avengers was to shoot a micro-budget black-and-white film adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing in 12 days. The plan for the adaptation, once completed, is “to hit the festival circuit, because it is fancy.” So perhaps he's becoming sort of a theatre director after all...
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