Joss Whedon brought his version of Shakespeare’s classic comedy Much Ado about Nothing to WonderCon in a special presentation. Much of the cast of the impromptu production joined Whedon on stage in order to screen the recently-released trailer and two exclusive clips from the film. The panel also shared behind-the-scenes anecdotes about how Whedon recruited them for the film, the experience of contemporizing Shakespeare and just how many of them were drunk during filming (off-screen…of course).
Much Ado about Nothing stars Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Fran Kranz, Jillian Morgese, Clark Gregg, Tom Lenk, Ashley Johnson, Reed Diamond, Riki Lindhome, Sean Maher and Nathan Fillion and opens in limited release on June 7th. Hit the jump for our panel recap.
Whedon took the stage to thunderous applause…which was quickly replaced by a room full of disappointed groans once he announced that Fillion would be unable to join the panel. Fortunately, cast members Lindhome, Gregg, Lenk, Morgese and Maher joined him on stage along with Spencer Treat Clark, Nick Kocher, Brian McElhaney, Romy Rosemont and cinematographer Jay Hunter.
While the trailer has been out for a little while, the two exclusive clips did a better job at establishing the tone of the movie as well as introducing viewers to the pace and sound of Shakespeare being spoken in a more contemporary way. The first clip features Don Pedro (Diamond), Leonato (Gregg) and Claudio (Kranz) all falsely professing Beatrice’s (Acker) love for Benedick (Denisof), while knowing that Benedick is eavesdropping from just outside. It shows off both the pace of the conversation and the varying levels of comfort the actors have for Shakespeare while showing off the humor, which becomes a touch slapstick at times. The second clip continued the comedy motif by centering on Fillion’s character, Dogberry, and his assistant Verges (Lenk) as they interrogated Conrade (Lindhome) and Borachio (Clark) with the Sexton (Rosemont) in attendance. Whedon called it his version of Law & Order as it’s a stereotypical interrogation room scene but with a comedic thruline. Fillion and Lenk got great reactions from the crowd.
Here’s a recap of the highlights from the panel’s Q&A:
- The cast talked about how they got involved with Much Ado about Nothing and while all of them responded with, “When Joss Whedon asks you, you say yes,” to explain why they got involved, the how was more varied. Hunter got an email asking, “Let’s party?” after an extensive conversation about how to shoot the film, Clark received a call while he was on a shoot in the middle of a cow pasture in Wyoming, Maher said Whedon sent him an email saying, “I need a sexy villain. What sayeth you?” Morgese met Whedon as a background actor on The Avengers and McElhaney and Kocher were invited because Whedon was a fan of their sketch comedy videos on their website.
- While Whedon seemed confident about getting the production done in twelve days because of the professionalism and talent of his cast and crew, Gregg was slightly more skeptical due to the simultaneous responsibilities of The Avengers production. Gregg later said, “I underestimated the Whedon.”
- Whedon’s first approach to adapting Much Ado about Nothing was to do something “really funny, modern and accessible,” but upon further reading he realized, “Oh, this is dark and full of pain.”
- Elaborating on his message behind the film: “It’s a commentary about romantic love, the expectations that come with it…I can also put some sex in here.”
- Gregg on Whedon’s directing style on Much Ado about Nothing vs The Avengers: “In this script, it was going to be hard for him to kill me off.”
- Whedon isn’t necessarily interesting in doing more Shakespeare, but he is looking forward to possibly working with the same cast again.
- Whedon, jokingly, on his dialogue as compared to Shakespeare: “There are a lot of strange words that you have to look up and things that make no sense. I’m just like Shakespeare.”
- Whedon also scored the film, saying it’s like being another character in the production. Elmer Bernstein’s score for The Grifters was his touchstone for a tone he called “ominous jaunty.”
Be sure to check out all of our coverage from WonderCon 2013 here.