Joss Whedon, best known for TV shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and upcoming film The Avengers, is now playing it Shakespearean: Whedon has confirmed the shooting and wrapping of Much Ado About Nothing, a modern take on Shakespeare's love story produced by Bellwether Pictures and starring alums like Nathan Fillion, Alexis Denisof, Amy Acker, and Sean Maher.
Much Ado About Nothing, Shakspeare's tragicomic love story of miscommunication and the battle of the sexes, is one of the Bard's best-loved plays. News that Buffy, Angel, and Firefly mastermin Joss Whedon would be remaking the film, however, only hit the news feed Oct. 24, when an official web site, muchadothemovie.com, appeared on the web with a press release about the movie.
Within the hour, excited blog and Twitter posts were abuzz with news that Whedon had made Much Ado About Nothing, but little was known about the film, its stars, or even whether the web site was real, according to CNN Entertainment.
The Avengers director Joss Whedon and actor Nathan Fillion have both confirmed, however, that the press release is genuine.
The movie was shot with no advance publicity, and only took some 12 days to shoot, setting Shakespeare's love story in Santa Monica, Calif. Despite being shot in glorious black and white, Whedon also confirmed that the setting will be a modern one.
[The project] is dedicated to the idea that this story bears retelling, that this dialogue is as fresh and intoxicating as any being written, and that the joy of working on a passion project surrounded by dear friends, admired colleagues and an atmosphere of unabashed rapture far outweighs their hilariously miniature paychecks, Whedon said in Bellwether Pictures' press release.
The text, Whedon added in a separate statement, is to me a deconstruction of the idea of love, which is ironic, since the entire production is a love letter -- to the text, to the cast, even to the house it's shot in.
No release date or distribution for Much Ado About Nothing was immediately announced. Bellwether Pictures studio, however, has an estimate. [The film] should be completed by early spring, the release said, and headed for the festival circuit... because it is fancy.
Beloved Cast Includes Nathan Fillion, Alexis Denisof
Much Ado About Nothing is the first production by Bellwether Pictures, a micro-studio created by Joss Whedon and Kai Cole. With no advance marketing or the barrage of teasers slipped for movies like Whedon's The Avengers, one would almost be tempted to conclude that Whedon's film won't do well in the box office.
But that would be discounting the avid following Whedon has, and the stellar cast of cult favorite and well-known names he's chosen for the Shakespeare redux.
Alexis Denisof, Buffy and Angel alum and husband to fellow Buffy alum and How I Met Your Mother star Alyson Hannigan, will play Benedick, the excessively witty friend of lover Claudio too consumed with loathing the similarly sharp-tongued Beatrice (Amy Acker, also of Angel fame) to realize he's also in love with her. Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker played another favorite couple on Joss Whedon's Angel, but the pair will have a happier ending in Much Ado.
The bickering not-yet couple serve as a foil to Claudio and Hero (Fran Kranz from Dollhouse and newcomer Jillian Morgese), who begin madly in love but are torn apart by a series of miscommunications and half-baked scandals.
Nathan Fillion, currently starring in ABC's Castle but previously known for Firefly and Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, will play bumbling constable Dogberry. Sean Maher, also from Firefly and the recently canceled Playboy Club, will play the villainous Don John, while Reed Diamond (Journeyman) is cast as the honorable Don Pedro.
From The Avengers to Much Ado
Clark Gregg, meanwhile, who joined Whedon in Iron Man, will play Leonato, Hero's father and the governor of Messina. Gregg, one of the few names not cherished by die-hard Whedon fans, expressed his shock at the online response to the film. Anything Joss [Whedon] does seems to inflame and animate his army of devoted followers, Gregg told The Washington Post. I had no idea anything like this was going to happen. I literally was shooting yesterday afternoon. I didn't think I was going to wake up to 1,000 emails.
Gregg, a founding member of the Atlantic Theater Company, was approached by Whedon while playing Agent Phil Couson on Hollywood's action-packed Avengers set. Asking what Whedon planned to do after wrapping the monster production, Gregg jokingly suggested beaches and foreign languages. And he said, Gregg recalled, 'It's funny you bring that up-- I was going to call you.'
The next thing I know, Gregg laughs, I was desperately trying to learn an awful lot of Shakespearean dialogue.
Filming on Whedon's movie was finished on Sunday, when Gregg had to leave before he could fully celebrate the two-week marathon accomplishment.
I heard they had a wrap party while I was gone, he said. I think one of the reasons this particular piece was chosen is because it's a play that has several parties and two weddings. It just was an excuse to have a lot of catered parties.