Joss Whedon And The <i>Much Ado About Nothing</i> Cast Talk About Stressing The Human Not The Hymen
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Joss Whedon And The Much Ado About Nothing Cast Talk About Stressing The Human Not The Hymen

By Joanna Robinson | Miscellaneous | June 7, 2013 | Comments ()


Directly after the premiere of Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing at SXSW this weekend, Whedon and 14 members of the cast took to the stage with moderator Adam Vary of Buzzfeed to discuss the film and answer questions from the audience. Though the entire cast (including Whedon regulars Fran Kanz, Alexis Denisof, Amy Acker and Tom Lenk) was charming as hell, panel pros Whedon and Nathan Fillion (who plays Dogberry in the film) were next level charismatic. They fielded a volley of "Firefly" questions and uber fan meltdowns with an equal mix of dry wit and sincere apprectiation for their rabid fanbase. Here are our spoiler-free highlights.

As Dan mentioned in his review , Whedon's wry, modern adaptation of Shakespeare's comedy of sex, jealousy and skirmishes of wit was shot over two weeks and at his own home. The sprawling house, designed by Whedon's wife Kai Cole, was the real inspiration for the film. Whedon remarked, "I regret that I didn't have a steady cam to capture the flow of the rooms. I really feel like I let the house down."

One of the more delightful performances in the film belongs to Clark Gregg (Agent Coulson of Avengers fame) who plays Don Leonato, father of the bride and host of Much Ado's sprawling party. Gregg confessed that his loose-limbed, booze-soaked performance was likely so refreshingly energetic because he was cast last minute and only had two days on set. ("I peed a little," Fillion said about being cast. "I peed a lot," Gregg added.) And when asked why there is so much alcohol in the film (and there is, I wouldn't recommend playing the "drink when they drink" game when watching this version of Much Ado), Joss explained that a near-constant state of inebriation was the best explanation for the amount of "deception and idiocy" that rages through Shakespeare's plot.

When asked about Much Ado's most problematic character, the romantic and temperamental Claudio, actor Fran Kranz ("Dollhouse," Cabin In The Woods) said Whedon directed him to be more of an "angry jock" than the "wet" Claudio we're used to seeing, saying "I felt a real commitment to being a dick." Whedon also addressed a few of the film's unusual interpretations of the text. I won't delve too much into that (can one spoil a 390 year old play?), but his decision to open the film by showing Beatrice and Benedict as lovers long before the action of the film begins is only one of several sex scenes in the movie. Whedon calls Much Ado About Nothing "the sexiest thing I've ever done, and that includes having sex."'

Sex was a hot topic during the decision because, of course, the plot of Much Ado hinges on the question of one young woman's virginity. When asked how he could reconcile that archaic issue with the slick, modern setting of Much Ado, Whedon joked "we stress the human not the hymen." He went on to explain that his heroine's "crime" is one of infidelity, and that's a timeless issue.

Much Ado has many joys, but chief among them is a swinging rendition of the play's song "Sigh No More" performed by Whedon's brother Jeff and his partner Maurissa Tancharoen. When a very young fan asked who wrote the song, Whedon joked that he wrote the music but that some guy named Shakespeare had been in charge of the lyrics. Whedon also dropped the bomb that he had never watched "Lost." He said "Either you make TV, or you watch TV." If that ever so slightly snobbish comment leaves a bad taste in your mouth, wash it out with one of Joss's perennially vague promises that he would like to do something more with the "Firefly" universe. "I'm just waiting for Fox or Universal to ask."

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Ziver

    pssst Joanna, come hop in the bunker with me... you've angered the whedonites and they are like a swarm of angry yet polite bees! (and they're really wordy too).

    In Joss we trust, amen. (that should distract them while you get away)

  • WateryTart

    His brother is Jed, not Jeff.

  • TheOriginalMRod

    Shut the front door!!!! Apparently Whedon also admitted that Phil is still alive!

  • minxy

    I don't think it's snobbish to say you either make t.v. or watch t.v., because honestly, there is only so much time in the day. Good television can be engrossing and take over your imagination, so in those free moments you're more interested in thinking about other people's characters than your own. But maybe that's just me.

  • lowercase_ryan

    Is it just me or is everyone dancing around saying whether this is good or not?

  • aboleyn

    Is it possible that the comment wasn't snobby, but a comment on the amount of time he spends making TV and movies leaving him with not enough time to view television? That was how I took it, but sure lets all jump to the conclusion he was being a jerk.

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    If somebody actually thinks Whedon has a jerk bone in his body, then they probably haven't watched the guy talk in any capacity for longer than five minutes.

  • Sirilicious

    This is the second site i've seen that interpreted his words as snobbish. I am very sure he meant "when you are making TV, you have no time AT ALL to be watching TV." I was there during Buffy, Angel and Firefly (on at the same time) and that man was working crazy hours.

    Even if you don't believe that, at least admit that is an equally valid interpretation of his words.

    The proof might be in his geek love for Veronica Mars for example. He loved that so much he played a douchey (!) car rental guy in it. Please don't make me dig up lots of other series he is known to love and find inspiration in.

  • Stephen Nein

    Most of the media at SXSW have been preparing to hate on Whedon's little experiment - you could see it in the entertainment press late last week. It was like watching a blue sky cumulus front and Anne Hathaway's publicity.

  • Sirilicious

    Really? All i've seen sofar are the quote-bites, saying it is awesome. The review on Pajiba was the first full one i've read. I am ok with it, it seems balanced enough. I haven't seen the movie yet, and even if i love me some whedon, i do not believe he has the midas touch. I guess i'll just have to wait for the illegal download and subsequent dvd-buy to form an opinion.

  • Stephen Nein

    I have no opinion on this project, just a nose for popularity waves that's been honed by 25 years of comment threading. (That's right, I predate the Internet - ISCA/FidoNet REPRESENT!)

  • the dude

    You either make tv or you watch tv. Or you do both you douchey wheddon

  • John G.

    do you not understand what "douchey" means? Or do you just not know anything about Whedon?

  • the dude

    come on the quote as it is IS pretty douchey, and I love wheddon, I've seen dollhouse, buffy, firefly, serenity, the avengers, pretty much everything, so get off my ass, I love the guy but he made a stupid comment (probably to hide the fact he hated LOST or something)

  • The Kilted Yaksman

    Or it could be that he's just a really fucking busy guy.
    I dunno...

  • lowercase_ryan

    That is one description of him I've never heard.

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