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You Can Thank Joss Whedon’s Wife For His Whedon-Cast Shakespeare Film

This Exists... Because of A Lady

We brought you details yesterday of the breaking news that Joss Whedon had somehow found the time to film an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing even though he’d be occupied making The Avengers film for Marvel. We here at The Mary Sue suspected he was in possession of a Time Turner but it seems as though we have Whedon’s generous wife to thank for his extra time. Read on for all the details, information from the cast and the first set photos! 

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Whedon and members of the cast spoke with Entertainment Weekly to give background on the surprise project. The self-funded, black-and-white film was shot over 12-days at Whedon’s own home in Santa Monica, California and is being produced by his new micro-studio Bellwether Pictures. “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,” he told the magazine. “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.”

Firefly star Sean Maher said he was asked in an email by Whedon to 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,” he told EW. “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.”

Angel/Dollhouse actress Amy Acker was asked to be involved around three weeks before filming began. “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]” Acker said she immediately said yes to the project,  “but when we showed up the first day, I was like, ‘Oh, this is a real movie!’ We didn’t quite know what it was going to be.”

Maher said he and the other cast members were sworn to secrecy about the whole thing. “I had asked him specifically if I could talk about the movie, and he said, Not yet. I would never in a million years betray his trust like that, and I think that everybody felt the same,” said Maher. “It was such a magical experience because everybody that was there just wanted to be there, you know, with every part of their soul and heart. It was really a wonderful experience, and I don’t think anybody would have leaked it anywhere.”

Acker didn’t have any trouble keeping it secret. “Luckily since everyone was scrambling to learn their lines and figure out what the heck they were doing, no one really had time. I think it was mostly making sure Nathan [Fillion] didn’t tweet about it. That’s how all news in the world seems to spread.”

Although Whedon described it as a noir comedy, as for the vibe of the film, Maher said it definitely feels 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.” Acker added that the costume designer use each actor’s closets to dress them.

Some bummer news came out of the story though, before Gregg came along, Giles himself, Anthony Head was set to play Leonato. No word yet on how Much Ado About Nothing will be distributed to the masses. Whedon said, “I haven’t heard anything yet. I’ve just been enjoying the Internet response. We’re feeling our way on this one, just like Dr. Horrible. I do mean it to be in theaters. But we haven’t gotten any real plan except [going to] film festivals because it sounded like it would be festive.”

(/Film via Entertainment Weekly)

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Jill Pantozzi
Jill Pantozzi is a pop-culture journalist and host who writes about all things nerdy and beyond! She’s Editor in Chief of the geek girl culture site The Mary Sue (Abrams Media Network), and hosts her own blog “Has Boobs, Reads Comics” ( She co-hosts the Crazy Sexy Geeks podcast along with superhero historian Alan Kistler, contributed to a book of essays titled “Chicks Read Comics,” (Mad Norwegian Press) and had her first comic book story in the IDW anthology, “Womanthology.” In 2012, she was featured on National Geographic’s "Comic Store Heroes," a documentary on the lives of comic book fans and the following year she was one of many Batman fans profiled in the documentary, "Legends of the Knight."

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