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All you need to know about Joss Whedon’s new Much Ado About Nothing movie

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Caffeinated Clint
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Clint is the creator, editor and maintainer of Moviehole.

A few hours ago actor Nathan Fillion tweeted a link to the following website : MuchAdoTheMovie.com

The website, it seemed, was an official portal for a new Joss Whedon movie based on the Shakespeare play ‘Much Ado About Nothing’, that the “Castle” alum stars in.

Fillion, who has worked with Whedon umpteen times (on “Buffy”, “Firefly” and “Dr Horrible”), is listed alongside such names as Amy Acker (“Angel”), Alexis Denisof (“Angel”), Sean Maher (“Serenity”), Tom Lenk (“Buffy”) and “Avengers” star Clark Gregg.

Oh, and there’s a picture of Fran Kranz knee-deep in water, with goggles and a martini.

It took a few hours, but now we’ve finally been treated to some official details on this secret project.

Seems the movie was something that Whedon shot in 12 days, while on a pause from “The Avengers”, with a media release suggesting the film will get a festival run before hunting for a home.

Santa Monica, CA (October 24th, 2011)

Bellwether Pictures proudly announces the completion of principal photography on MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, a modern version of Shakespeare’s classic comedy adapted and directed by Joss Whedon (Marvel’s upcoming THE AVENGERS, “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog”). Filmed in just 12 days entirely on location in exotic Santa Monica, the film features a stellar cast of beloved (or soon to be beloved) actors — some of them veterans of Shakespearean theater, some completely new to the form. But all 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.

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING is the first feature from Bellwether, a micro-studio created by Joss Whedon and Kai Cole for the production of small, independent narratives for all media, embracing a DIY ethos and newer technologies for, in this particular case, a somewhat older story.

Shot in glorious black and white by Jay Hunter (PAPER HEART, “Dollhouse”), the film stars Amy Acker (CABIN IN THE WOODS, “Alias”) and Alexis Denisof (“How I Met Your Mother”, “Angel”) as Beatrice and Benedick, the world’s least likely lovers headed for their inevitable tumble into love. As Joss Whedon puts it: “The text 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.” The supporting cast includes Nathan Fillion (“Castle”, WAITRESS) as Dogberry, Clark Gregg (AVENGERS, IRON MAN) as Leonato, Fran Kranz (CABIN IN THE WOODS, “Dollhouse”) as Claudio and Reed Diamond (“Franklin & Bash”, MONEYBALL) as Don Pedro.

The film was produced by Whedon, line-produced by Nathan Kelly and M. Elizabeth Hughes, and co-produced by Kai Cole and Danny Kaminsky. The super-impressive cast is listed below. Full tech credits (for the extraordinary crew) will be up shortly. The film should be completed by early spring and headed for the festival circuit, because it is fancy.

www.muchadothemovie.com
muchadothemovie@gmail.com

The Players:

Amy Acker – Beatrice
Alexis Denisof – Benedick
Nathan Fillion – Dogberry
Clark Gregg – Leonato
Reed Diamond – Don Pedro
Fran Kranz – Claudio
Sean Maher – Don John
Spencer Treat Clark – Borachio
Riki Lindhome – Conrade
Ashley Johnson – Margaret
Emma Bates – Ursula
Tom Lenk – Verges
Nick Kocher – First Watchman
Brian McElhaney – Second Watchman
Joshua Zar – Leonato’s aide
Paul M. Meston – Friar Francis
Romy Rosemont – The Sexton
And introducing Jillian Morgese as Hero

 

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Whedon revealed a few more details about the hush-hush project :

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: This announcement took people by surprise to say the least. How did this all come together?
JOSS WHEDON: Well, it’s not a bit secret that I’ve done these [Shakespeare] readings before, and I always had a vague notion of shooting Much Ado. But I didn’t really have a take on it. And then, for some reason, I kinda sorta did. As we were finishing The Avengers in New York, my wife and I were planning our vacation for our 20th anniversary. And she said, “Let’s not take the vacation. Make a movie instead.” I was like, “I’m not even sure if I can adapt the script, cast the movie, and prep it in a month.” And she was like, “Well, that’s your vacation time, so you do it.” And so I did.

So how did you get the ability to bend time and space to your will to be able to pull this off? It’s not like you don’t have a bunch of other things going on.
[Chuckles] You know, I am busy. But you know, if you want something done, ask the busy man; nobody else has time. There is an element of “I have a serious problem” — that’s one thing. And then there’s an element of this is the best vacation I’ve ever taken. I mean, yes, it was super hard, it was a ton of work, and there were moments where I went, “What’s wrong with me? What am I thinking about? I need to rest!” But I’ve never been so well rested and so well fed as I have on this movie. You know, you make the time, because no one’s going to make it for you. There’s never going to be a good time to do it. You make the time and you make it work if you really, really want it. And I really did.

Actor Sean Maher, known as Simon from Whedon’s “Firefly”, explained to the magazine how it all came together :

Tell me, how did this come together? How did Joss pitch this to you? How did he convince you to do it?
I was in Chicago at the time. It was like 2 or 2:30 in the morning, and I was arriving back to my hotel from work. I had an email from Joss, telling me that he was putting together a cast for Much Ado About Nothing, and he wanted me to come play Don John. He said, “I need a sexy villain, what sayeth you?” I initially was terrified because I’ve never done Shakespeare, and Shakespeare with Joss — I always want to do right by him because I love him so much. So I told him, I’m absolutely on board, let me just make sure I can clear the dates. I spoke to my manager, he called Playboy Club. Ironically, we got some time off from Playboy Club, and the day I started rehearsal on Much Ado About Nothing, the show got canceled. It was a little bittersweet, but look, anything that Joss would ask me to come do, I’m pretty confident I would do. It was a no-brainer on my part. It still was scary for me. It was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done, but yet, it didn’t feel like work.

Is playing a villain a new thing for you?
Completely new. And I said that to Joss! Last night, we were wrapping up my last scene. I was just having so much fun playing this role. He’s just deliciously mean, trying to thwart his brother’s happiness and foil the wedding in the play. We had finished a take, and I walked off and I was sort of sitting there smirking with Joss, and he’s like, “You’re such a dick.” It’s so much fun to be a dick because I’ve never been a dick! He’s like, “Are you kidding me? You do dick well.” I was like, “No, it’s the first time.” He’s smart, he’s not just mean. He’s setting up all of these misunderstandings and planting all of these seeds of deception, and he’s just so mischievous, but in such a calculated, intelligent way. That was really, really fun to play.

How is this updated? What’s the vibe like of the movie?
It does feel contemporary. The direction we were getting from Joss was to make it was real, especially with the language, not to be big and Shakespearian, but to bring it in and be intimate and bring it as close to a realistic way of speaking as we could. And Joss’ house is just magnificent. Not ostentatious by any means, but just a maze of halls and so many different bedrooms and this pool that overlooks the Santa Monica mountains. It’s gorgeous, just the most perfect setting. Everybody who was there, so desperately wanted to be there and you felt that. It really felt like we were doing something great. So I’m excited.

 

Amy Acker explained how she got involved in the film :

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Joss told me he had done a reading of the play with you and Alexis. Do you remember when that was?
AMY ACKER: I feel like it was maybe three years ago? Somewhere around that time.

And he’s been doing these for a while?
Yeah, since even before I met him. When I came on to Angel, which was a long time ago, he had already been doing them for awhile. For several years we would do, like, them every month, and then we’ll go three years and not do one. Then he would bring everybody back and kind of get on a roll with it again. There’s usually a group of people whose always there, and then he picks up new people each time.

When did you get the call that he’d be doing Much Ado About Nothing as a film?
I think it was about three weeks before we started. Maybe two-and-a-half. I know when Clark Gregg decided that he was going to do it, there had been some other people who were maybe going to play that part, and then they had conflicts that came up, so he kind of came in and saved the day at the end. He was like, “Well I only had four days to learn all of the lines,” and I was like, “Yeah, we all found out last week, so don’t feel too bad.” [Laughs]

Do you know who was going to be playing Leonato before Clark?
Anthony Head.

EW also has some exclusive shots from the movie, here y’are :

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