Joss Whedon’s ‘Much Ado’ Isn’t ‘Scary Shakespeare’

by Tami Katzoff (@tvtamijo)

Joss Whedon has directed three feature films: “Serenity,” “The Avengers” and “Much Ado About Nothing.” The first is dear to us because it’s “Firefly.” The second is special because it showed the world what Joss can do with a big budget and even bigger characters. But the third… oh, how we’ve anticipated this movie at The Weekly Whedon. And now it’s about to premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.

This is the film that brought together many of our favorite Whedonverse actors, including Nathan Fillion, Sean Maher, Tom Lenk and Fran Kranz. Former “Angel” cast mates Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof are reunited as fighters-turned-lovers Beatrice and Benedick.

“It all came together very quickly,” says Denisof. “Somewhere in between wrapping the ’Avengers’ shoot, getting on an airplane to go home, and arriving home, he cooked up the idea of instead of going on a family vacation, he would shoot ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ at his house.”

The cast was warned to come prepared. “Everybody knew their lines, which is a feat in and of itself,” Denisof recalls. “[Joss] had said to everybody, ‘Look, we don’t have long to do this, so I need you to know your sh*t when you get here.’”

It helped that pretty much everyone already knew each other before shooting began. “It gave us an immediate camaraderie,” says Denisof. “We had a familiarity so we could work quickly with each other. There wasn’t that breaking-in process that is usual with most film shoots.”

Joss’ “Much Ado” is a faithful yet modern adaptation of the original play, so Bard fans expecting to see old-school frilliness might be a bit disappointed. “We weren’t wearing tights and cod pieces,” Denisof says. “It has a relatable feel, its setting is not too alien for most of us, and once you’re in the scenes playing them and just letting the lines come out naturally, it stops feeling like that scary Shakespeare that we all got fed at school and starts to feel like what I think the writer intended, which is a great story told in a beautiful way.”

Previously on The Weekly Whedon:
» Joss Whedon keeps it in the family for ’S.H.I.E.L.D.’
» Spike’s 50 for 50: Happy birthday, James Marsters!
» Joss Whedon puts on an act for ‘Husbands’
» Marti Noxon: the Whedonite that almost wasn’t
» Joss Whedon’s ‘The Avengers,’ three months later

MTV News producer Tami Katzoff presents The Weekly Whedon, a column exploring all corners of the Whedonverse from “Marvel’s The Avengers” to “Buffy” and beyond. Assemble your reactions in the comments section!