Joss Whedon talks Much Ado, Shakespeare, Amy Acker, Nathan Fillion, and more
|NEWS - MOVIE NEWS|
It turns out Shakespeare is actually a lot like The Avengers...
[Update: Joss Whedon has since posted at Whedonesque, clarifying some of his comments. Scroll down to the end of the article for the full quote.]
Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing (or rather, Joss Whedon’s film adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing) is set to premiere at the Toronto Film Festival this coming Saturday. The director talked to EW at the fest, and in his excitement, revealed plenty of interesting bits of news, including his thoughts on some of the performances in Much Ado About Nothing, the best actress he’s ever worked with, the connection between Much Ado and The Avengers, and where his future projects could take him.
“I’ve been to two festivals in my life, and I’ve never been to Toronto. I haven’t really been making festival movies. This is new territory for me. I’m kind of festive. Toronto has an amazing rep. The entire cast is coming. That’s so exciting for me, since they’re all my buddies. I would like to find a distributor and would really like to see other people’s movies.”
The fact that he’s enthusiastic to see other people’s movies is a nice reminder that despite his blockbuster success, he’s still just a geeky fan at heart. That’s part of what makes his stories resonate so strongly: because of the genuine love that goes into them.
When he says “I haven’t really been making festival movies. This is new territory for me.”, one imagines various snobbish cineastes coming up to him at the festival, looking down their respective (but not respectful) noses at him, and going, “Didn’t you direct that superhero movie?” And then he might respond, “Yeah, and it made more than all of these other movies will make put together.” Or he might turn to someone in the crowd, and go, “Hulk…Smash!” And then the snobbish cineastes would run away screaming.
Yes, Joss Whedon is friends with an entire cast of Shakespearean actors. Okay, half of them are only Shakespearean actors because he cast them in a Shakespeare play (and presumably they were all good), but still. But even more impressive than that, he’s friends with basically the entire main cast of multiple Joss Whedon shows. But them being Whedonesque actors was all down to him, or at least his overall casting approval.
It’s extremely likely that he’ll find a distributor. After all, his last film made more money at the box office than almost all the films ever did (individually, not put together).
Even if Much Ado is somewhat different from The Avengers, being a micro-budget black-and-white play adaptation filmed in 12 days, as opposed to a huge superhero crossover blockbuster, there’s surely a market for a fresh take on Shakespeare from a talented, diverse cast and a respectful, more than capable director.
However, Much Ado About Nothing and The Avengers may in fact be more similar than people would think. Whedon explains:
““There’s a reason Tony Stark makes fun of Thor, and mentions Shakespeare in the Park in The Avengers,” said Whedon. “It’s great to play high drama and comedy alongside a modern story. Shakespeare was shameless about that stuff, pop culture references. Much Ado is very much in the vein of the movies I make, which surprised me. It’s not that different from The Avengers. It’s about finding why everyone is in the movie. What makes Ursula the maid shine? It was oddly similar.””
Yes, that’s right, people, pop culture references are awesome. Because Shakespeare.
Joss doesn’t actually clarify what specifically makes Ursula the maid shine. It’s a ploy to make us see the movie!
To elaborate a little on the Shakespearean influence on The Avengers, there’s a very heightened, complex, Shakespearean dynamic to Thor and Loki’s relationship, even more so in The Avengers than in Thor, and as such it’s one of the best character dynamics in The Avengers.
Whedon also picked out some of the highlights of his Much Ado cast. For instance:
““Amy’s the best actress I’ve ever worked with. Get ready for an ace star performance. People were speechless,” gushed Whedon. “We started the home Shakespeare readings 10 years ago or more. It was season five or season six of Buffy. Sarah Michelle Gellar did not do the readings. A smattering of writers and actors from the shows did them. With Much Ado, eventually the technology changed to the point where you can make a movie, and not just a stage reading, but an actual production at home.””
So there you have it. Amy Acker is the best actress Joss Whedon has ever worked with. Sorry, Summer Glau, Dichen Lachman, Alyson Hannigan, et al…
But surely no-one will begrudge her the title. Who could possibly be angry at Winifred ‘Fred’ Burkle? (Aside from the magic-induced misogyny in the Angel episode ‘Billy’, that is.)
“As for Fillion, Whedon said the Castle star had never read Shakespeare, before filming the movie, and that Fillion was scared. “But he was so assured, and so funny! People are thinking spinoff!” Whedon said.”
Of course, that statement could apply to most Nathan Fillion characters. However, Captain Malcolm Reynolds in Firefly is largely defined by the people around him, and similarly with Richard Castle in Castle. And they’re the main characters in their respective shows anyway. So probably the Nathan Fillion character who would work best in a spinoff would be Captain Hammer from Doctor Horrible’s Sing-a-Long Blog, because no matter who’s around him, he’s generally more interested in himself.
While a spinoff from Much Ado About Nothing starring Nathan Fillion as Dogberry (and thus presumably also Tom Lenk as his sidekick Verges) would be most entertaining, the suggestion is probably at least partly tongue-in-cheek, given the unlikelihood of it happening. To paraphrase Boromir: One does not simply make a spinoff from Shakespeare. There is poetry there that cannot be replicated.
Though, having paraphrased that meme, if anyone could pull it off, it would be Joss Whedon. Not only is he a genius (at least) on the level of Shakespeare, but their writing also has quite a bit in common, as has often been pointed out.
The campaign for Nathan Fillion and Tom Lenk to star in Joss Whedon’s 2 Much 2 Ado (provisional title) starts here! They're confused, and in black-and-white! It's a thrill-a-minute action blockbuster!
Speaking of too much to do, Joss Whedon’s recently-announced three-year contract with Marvel, which will keep him rather busy, writing and directing The Avengers 2, making the TV show SHIELD, and consulting extensively on Marvel’s other movies, won’t be his only creative outlet for the next three years. Whedon clarifies:
““The agreement with Marvel carved out room for movies like Much Ado and In Your Eyes, which my wife produced, which we’ve finished post on. And Dr. Horrible 2,” said Whedon. “Anything that is not movie or TV. I can do web, comic books, macramé, art.””
Does this mean that Dr. Horrible 2 will be macramé? What even is macramé? Can it involve singing? All these questions and more will (or might) be answered (perhaps indirectly) when Dr. Horrible 2 comes out…at some point in the future!
Update: After a little fan confusion, Joss Whedon posted on the fan site Whedonesque to clarify as follows:
The comment about Sarah was out of context and in response to a question.
The comment about Amy was true.
I have had (and hope to keep and grow) the most astonishing stable of thesps, male and female, a director could wish for. I love them all, and know that all of them have qualities and strengths that no-one else has. “Best” doesn’t mean best at everything, or right for every part. I don’t believe in setting my people apart, or making any of them to feel small. Was Sarah the best possible Buffy? Only totes. I still watch her work like a fannish man-boy. I could write essays and sonnets about all of my actors -- Alexis would get a Rogers & Hammerstein “Soliloquy” type song -- but you all know how I feel about them by how I filmed them, how I wrote for them. Let’s not quibble.
Having said that, see above.
IF YOU ENJOYED THIS ARTICLE, PLEASE HELP SUPPORT OUR SITE, AT NO COST WITH ONE CLICK ON THE FACEBOOK 'LIKE' BUTTON BELOW:
If you're interested in writing for Shadowlocked (disc and screening reviews, etc, or just getting some extra coverage for your extraordinary writing talent, get in touch with us.