Much Ado About Nothing is my favorite Shakespeare play. Joss Whedon is one of my favorite human beings. So let’s take what follows with that myopic mountain of salt, shall we? YOU MUST BUY THIS BOOK. If you don’t have a copy of Mucho Ado lying around (I do, several, shut up that’s not the point) then this is probably one you want to own. The book (from Titan, on sale October 8th, reserve your copy from your local indie bookshop today!) includes the full screenplay, an introduction from Joss, a fun interview with Joss and the aforementioned adorable behind-the-scenes photos. I’ve included a few of my favorite snaps below, but before you go drooling on Amy Acker, here are a few fun extracts from the extras.
The most surprising bit of the book is probably Joss’s delightfully self-effacing introduction where he confesses having stalled out on making the movie because he felt he couldn’t crack the play. That’s right. Storytelling phenom, Joss Whedon, felt he couldn’t get a fresh take (or any take) on Shakespeare. But crack it he did. Whedon explains:
I walked across the street from the rubbled Manhattan Avengers location and bought a copy of the play (actually, Danny bought it. My wallet was in my trailer. I still haven’t paid him back. I never will! Suck it, Kaminsky!) and then it was in my pocket, and then it was in my head, and then I had the movie and the rest is a footnote in history. Thinking that the play was actually about nothing is like complaining that the titular character never shows up in Waiting For Godot. (Spoiler alert: he doesn’t show.) There was so much something in the text…so much life and pain and duplicity and pain and such high-pain-jinks, there was no way I couldn’t film it. This was the most cynically romantic piece I’d read. It completely obliterated the tropes of romantic loves, while ultimately championing love itself. This was me talking about me. This was meat. I was in.
And then what followed, once Joss Whedon cracked the play wide open, was a dizzying display of love. Love of the text, of his wife, his house, his friends (aka the cast) and the art of storytelling. Joss Whedon, he of phenomenal fame, just put on a show. Because he could. The in-depth interview in the book is a delight to read because it not only helps you understand Whedon’s approach to telling this story, but also gives you untold insight into his process on the whole. And if you’re already a die-hard Whedon fan or a Shakespeare nut, you’ll devour his stories of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer days where, any given Sunday, you could find Joss playing Iago to J. August Richards’ Othello in the Whedon backyard.
If those of you who “don’t get” Whedon ever wonder why he’s developed such a slavish following, this book should help you bust that conundrum wide open. It’s the not the witty patter of his dialogue or the profound geekiness he puts on display. It’s the amount of love he pours into everything he does. That patter? That geekiness? Those are expressions of love too. Love of language and of pop-culture. He makes the actors he works with family. He produced this film (not my favorite production of Much Ado but still an effervescent and delightful take) in his home with his family. And he did it for himself. But he gave it to us. And that’s why we love Joss and that’s why you should read this book.
Finally, these are just a few of the behind-the-scenes photos from the set. They’ll only tell you what you already know. Joss is having an amazing time, Amy Acker is one of the most gloriously beautiful women on earth and hugs from Nathan Fillion look like they smell of cookies and cognac.