This morning we met Joss Whedon (creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer) who has directed a new film version of Much Ado About Nothing, opening in UK cinemas on 14 June . He was joined by Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof who play the bickering lovers, Beatrice and Benedick.
Despite it being an early start and having had very little or no sleep, Joss, Amy and Alexis were friendly and articulate, even managing to throw in the odd joke. They gave thought provoking answers to my questions that revealed a deep understanding of, and passion for Shakespeare’s work.
I had all of five minuets to speak to them but in that time we managed to uncover what motivated Joss to choose Much Ado About Nothing, rather than any other of Shakespeare’s plays; gain an insight into Sunday lunches in the Whedon household and to reveal a genuine bond between the actors and director.
What drew you to film / take part in Much Ado About Nothing, rather than any other of Shakespeare’s plays?
Joss Whedon: I chose it because it is very accessible and has two parts for two actors I love very much. It’s very funny; it’s also very dark- Shakespeare has the same kind of mood swings that I like in my work so it meant I got to play with a variety of rhythms and all of the genres in one piece of work and that is something I couldn’t turn down.
Amy Acker : Beatrice is a character I’ve wanted to play forever, ever since reading it Much Ado About Nothing in high school. It was as an honour to get to play the part. If I could play just one role for the rest of my life I would not be sad I was told ‘you’re doing Beatrice forever’.
Alexis Denisof: The chance to work with Joss and Amy is incredible. It’s my favourite day at work, in fact it’s my favourite day, any day, whether it’s work or not! And this play, this kind of quintessential romantic comedy is such a joy; it was thrilling to be part of it.
You have all worked together before; what are the benefits of this?
Amy Acker: I am not sure it would have been possible to do this [Much Ado About Nothing] this quickly , or even make the movie if that had not happened.
Alexis Denisof: If we had to start from scratch and figure out chemistry and rapport … In some movies that’s twelve days gone. It can take weeks for the director, and the actors and the crew to find their rhythm. I mean Joss, he knew exactly how to get the right people to make this from the get-go, and to get it firing on all cylinders.
(To Joss) Why did you choose to use the original text, in a modern setting, instead of updating the language as well?
Plenty of fine movies have been made taking the plots and updating them, but that’s not for me. I love Shakespeare, but I don’t love him for his plots or his directions, it’s the words. It’s the humanity and the rhythm, and life in those words. I would never touch them. They’re why we all came together week after week to read the plays.
Alexis Denisof : Joss is referring to the readings he would host at his house on Sundays. This started in the early days of Buffy. He identified a few actors and writers who loved Shakespeare and we would go over and read the plays. He would dole out the parts and provide a little light lunch, and it was a great afternoon for everybody. I think the feel of those lunches very much informed the style of this movie, its sense of easiness and accessibility.
Watch a little vine Joss, Amy and Alexis made here. Not too tired to have fun!
You can find out more about the film, and where it is showing at the official website.
Globe on Screen
From 1 June several of our 2012 productions will be screened in cinemas world-wide. Henry V, starring Jamie Parker as the king opens on 1 June; followed by the award-winning Twelfth Night with Mark Rylance and Stephen Fry. Completing the 2012 Globe on Screen season will be The Taming of the Shrew, with Samantha Spiro as the fiery Katherina.
For more information and to find your nearest screening, visit the Globe on Screen website.
Watch a video of the interview here: