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.
The trailer for Joss Whedon‘s Much Ado about Nothing has been released. For those unfamiliar with William Shakespeare‘s play, it follows the trick to bring the bickering Beatrice (Amy Acker) and Benedict (Alexis Denisof) together, and the deception to tear apart the enamored Claudio (Fran Kranz) and Hero (Jillian Morgese) apart. I caught the film at TIFF, and I was charmed by Whedon’s low-budget exercise in trying to tell a comedy without using his own snappy dialogue. This trailer makes the film look a little more intense, but it’s understandable when trying to sell Shakespeare to a modern audience.
Hit the jump to check out the trailer. The film also stars Clark Gregg, Tom Lenk, Ashley Johnson, Reed Diamond, Riki Lindhome, Sean Maher, and Nathan Fillion. Much Ado about Nothing opens in limited release on June 7th.
With a few exceptions, William Shakespeare‘s trips to the big screen have been sumptuous affairs. The plays favor an expansive vision by the director, so we get films like Julie Taymor‘s Titus and Kenneth Branagh‘s Hamlet. But one of the many beautiful things about Shakespeare is how flexible it is in terms of setting. You can set it on a modern battlefield (Ralph Fiennes‘ Coriolanus), in a high school (Tim Blake Nelson‘s Othello adaptation, O), or in the case of Joss Whedon‘s Much Ado about Nothing, in an upper-class home. Whedon’s Much Ado is a bold challenge for the director not because of fancy costumes or complex staging, but because he removes two of his greatest assets: his dialogue and a budget. Of course, nothing Whedon (or anyone else) could write would surpass the Bard, but it’s an entertaining exercise seeing the director speak only in a visual language, and then having his budget limit what visuals he has available. With no money and another author’s work, Whedon finds his film’s strength in the superb cast, clever staging, and an expert understanding of dialogue.
For Joss Whedon, it looks like there’s always time for Shakespeare. One would think that work on The Avengers would consume almost all of the writer-director’s schedule, but apparently he’s been able to squeeze in the mysterious project Much Ado about Nothing. Since the website says “Based on a Play”, presumably it means the one by William Shakespeare. Shakespeare’s romantic-comedy centers around two couples: the lively and interesting Beatrice and Benedict, and the mopey and less-interesting Claudio and Hero. Both couples a betrayed by the villainous Don John, but love wins out in the end and both couples end up getting married. Despite the lack of supernatural or sci-fi elements, it’s a story that fits nicely into Whedon’s wheelhouse of characters.
Nathan Fillion revealed the project by tweeting a link to the website, and plenty of the usual Whedon suspects have been rounded up for the cast. In addition to Fillion, there’s Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Tom Lenk, Ashley Johnson, Fran Kranz, Reed Diamond, Riki Lindhome, Sean Maher, plus recent collaborator Clark Gregg along with a bunch of new faces. If you’re wondering how a project like this flies under the radar until now, it’s probably because it was a low-budget affair that Whedon cranked out over the course of a few weekends. The photo above is from the website, but we don’t know if it’s an image from the movie, referencing from the movie, or if it’s just how Bellwether Pictures like to congratulate its productions. I’m eager to find out Whedon’s take on the material and how he plans to distribute the picture. [Update: A full press release has appeared on the website, revealing more details about the project including who's playing what role. Hit the jump to read.]