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WonderCon 2013: Much Ado About Nothing

Following The Avengers, many were curious what the next thing for writer, director, and all-around geek icon Joss Whedon would be.  Obviously taking on a modern day retelling of a famous Shakespeare play was the perfect project to take on.  Okay, so maybe a Joss Whedon adaptation of the popular comedy, Much Ado About Nothing, was not the obvious choice, but that is what happened.  Whedon called up many of his friends and shot this film in a couple weeks, using his own house as the set.  At WonderCon, on Sunday, many fans of both Whedon and Shakespeare (presumably in equal ratios of course) showed up to the panel for this film and were treated to an expansive roster of panelists and some footage from the film that opens in theaters this June.  Read on to learn more about what doth happened during this presentation.

 

Official Panel Description:

Shakespeare’s classic comedy is given a contemporary spin in Joss Whedon’s film Much Ado About Nothing. Shot in just 12 days (and using the original text), the story of sparring lovers Beatrice and Benedick offers a dark, sexy, and occasionally absurd view of the intricate game that is love. Please join us for an exclusive panel with very special guest(s) including Nathan Fillion, Clark Gregg, Sean Maher, Jillian Morgese, Riki Lindhome, Tom Lenk, Joss Whedon, Romy Rosemont, Brian McElhaney, Ashley Johnson, Jay Hunter, Nick Kocher and Spencer Treat Clark.

So things started somewhat awkwardly, as Whedon came out to make the announcement that Nathan Fillion (Firefly, Serenity, TV’s Castle) would not be in attendance, as he was quite sick.  However, everyone else listed in in the panel description above did arrive on stage and were met with varying levels of response.  Most notable was the roaring applause for Clark Gregg, now best known for playing Agent Coulson in The Avengers and other recent Marvel Studios features.

Before really getting underway, the trailer for the film, which is also posted below, was played for the audience, which was a nice way to get everyone up to speed on what was going on with this film.  One confirmation made later on concerned the use of color in the trailer.  That is apparently only a part of the trailer and not something that will occur in the film.  There apparently were discussions about it, but it came down to being too expensive for the film, given that this is essentially a larger scale home movie for Whedon.

A good bulk of the panel was spent going down the row of actors, who explained which role they were playing in the film and how they got the part.  The most apparent aspect of all of this was how only some of the actors had performed Shakespeare in the past, while many have maybe done some work in acting classes, but never in an actual production of one of his plays.  Actor Tom Lenk even explained that he was lost many times in regards to what the dialogue he was speaking actually meant, which would lead to having to have Whedon explain it, which in turn would lead to Whedon asking lead actor Alexis Denisof (of Buffy and Angel fame) what certain phrases meant, as he is a trained Shakespearian actor.  Joss Whedon chose everyone for this film based on what he thought would fit amongst the various people that he is friends with or admires in some way.  It must have been sheer confidence on his part that they could pull off Shakespeare.

Following some conversing, audiences were treated to some footage from the film.  Two scenes were viewed.  The first involved Denisof’s work as Benedick, which utilized the words as they were written, while also demonstrating Denisof’s skill at physical comedy.  This was quite promising, as Whedon definitely seems to be nailing a certain tone that is very fitting of his style, despite having the language of Shakespeare coming out of his player’s mouths.  The second scene mainly highlighted Nathon Fillion’s presence in the film.  Regardless of whether Fillion has ever done any Shakespeare, it seems quite apparent that he is perfectly at home with having fun in a role given to him by Whedon, as he appeared quite confident on screen, playing a self-described “ass”.

Joss Whedon would go on to describe this film as a comedy/noir, which makes a lot of sense.  He has obviously modernized the film, given that it takes place in contemporary times, but still chose to shoot the film in black & white and have all the characters in nice suits and dresses to echo a more timeless mood.  From what I have seen so far, that makes quite a bit of sense, as the film will surely be funny and entertaining to watch, but will have to deal with moments of drama, which has to do with various themes and motifs that are universal.

A question from the crowd had to do with why Joss Whedon chooses the projects that he does and the answer was essentially because Whedon realized he had something to say about said project.  I cannot quite paraphrase all that he said in regards to making Much Ado About Nothing, but it comes down to him wanting to do something with Shakespeare, work with friends on a small scale project, score his own film, and apply his own sensibilities to the story.  Given the footage shown, it looks like he has achieved these things and I am excited to see the whole film, come this June.

Official Synopsis:

Leonato (Clark Gregg), the governor of Messina, is visited by his friend Don Pedro (Reed Diamond) who is returning from a victorious campaign against his rebellious brother Don John (Sean Maher). Accompanying Don Pedro are two of his officers: Benedick (Alexis Denisof) and Claudio (Fran Kranz). While in Messina, Claudio falls for Leonato’s daughter Hero (Jillian Morgese), while Benedick verbally spars with Beatrice (Amy Acker), the governor’s niece. The budding love between Claudio and Hero prompts Don Pedro to arrange with Leonato for a marriage.

In the days leading up to the ceremony, Don Pedro, with the help of Leonato, Claudio and Hero, attempts to sport with Benedick and Beatrice in an effort to trick the two into falling in love. Meanwhile, the villainous Don John, with the help of his allies: Conrade (Riki Lindhome) and Borachio (Spencer Treat Clark), plots against the happy couple, using his own form of trickery to try to destroy the marriage before it begins.

A series of comic and tragic events continue to keep the two couples from truly finding happiness, but then again perhaps love may prevail.

Much Ado About Nothing Hits Theaters On June 7, 2013

Watch the official trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5ZWwaMHIuA

For more info:
http://muchadomovie.com/
https://www.facebook.com/MuchAdoMovie
http://twitter.com/MuchAdoFilm (Joss Whedon tweets too!)

Aaron is a writer/reviewer for WhySoBlu.com.  Follow him on Twitter @AaronsPS3.
He also co-hosts a podcast,
Out Now with Aaron and Abe, available via iTunes or at HHWLOD.com.

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Video Game Player, Comic Book Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

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