Caliburn24 here to attend the wedding of Hero and Claudio.
Much Ado About Nothing is one of Shakespeare’s best comedies for the title alone. The Wonder Con panel on Sunday began with Joss Whedon walking out to applause and made an announcement. “It is my distinct pleasure to get to be the guy to tell you that Nathan won’t come. He has a hideous facial disease. I just wanted to tell you now so that we can get through this together.” The film emerged from the Shakespeare readings that Whedon conducted at his house. It is in black and white and set in a noir time period. The panel that began with the host asking Joss about his work ethic, “I have a problem where it’s hard to stop working. This just didn’t fit the schedule and it did as well as I hoped. Honestly, the way I’m able to do it so is that you have to have a bunch of people who can do it. You have to have this group of people who can move so quickly and so well and artistically, that you know you can accomplish what you want to in twelve days.” Riki Lindhome was introduced first. She is the actress part of the Garfunkel and Oates singing comedy duo. “I play Conrade. I’m Spencer Trent Clark (Borachio)’s girlfriend slash evil doing partner and I get to kiss Sean Maher in the movie. I got an e-mail from Joss on Wednesday asking me if I wanted to be in a Shakespeare and then I went yes that was it, that was the process.”
Clark Gregg was introduced to the cheers of the audience to which he added, “That just made my day.” He started introducing himself, “My name is Clark Gregg” when he was stopped by the applause. Fans were really taken with his character from The Avengers. Gregg continued with some jokes (I recognize him more for his role in the sitcom The Adventures of Old Christine), “You don’t know me, I’m already insufferable. Don’t feed the beast. I play Agent Leonato. Sorry, I seem to stick it in front of everything now.” Leonato is the father of Hero, one of the young ladies in this romance. Gregg went on to explain how he got the part, “I got this call from Joss and I knew we just finished shooting The Avengers, but theoretically he was going to be editing it now. My first thought was `Oh, this is it, he’s having a nervous breakdown.’ He thinks he’s making this movie at his house. As so many people have done, I underestimated the Whedon. Sure enough I showed up two days later trying desperately to learn my lines and there was this magnificent group of players from film and tv shows that I admired.”
Gregg later answered a question about working on The Avengers and Much Ado About Nothing, “They are both so awesome in different ways. There’s not a danger of someone turning into a giant green rage monster. I was clear in this script that it would be hard to kill me off. In all seriousness, I had so much fun doing the Avengers, even though it ended badly. I was going through a little postpartum, `Oh, I don’t want this to be over’, and then to get another call, to join a different group of Avengers, equally super heroic, it was just more of a good time.” Whedon also added a response to the q&a, “The question I get very often is which Shakespeare play are you going to do next. There are two answers to that, the first one is Hamlet, the next thing I want to do is take this exact cast and do something completely different. Truthfully, if it was going to be with these guys, I wouldn’t care what it is.”
Tom Lenk introduced his character, “I play Verges who plays the sidekick of Nathan Fillion. I was very excited to let him to do all the work and capitalize on his humor and handsomeness.” The next actor introduced himself, “My name is Spencer Treat Clark. Three names. I play Borachio who is normally played by an older, larger gentleman. I’m not sure what Joss is trying to tell me.” Borachio is part of the villainous duo conspiring with Don John. Sean Maher was then introduced to the strong applause of the audience that lasted a minute. He introduces himself, “I’m Sean Maher. On the back of my name plate it says please be aware that many members of your audience are under the age of 18. So I’ll keep my potty mouth to myself on Easter Sunday.” He continues with his character, “I play Don John, the devious bastard villain” (he catches himself for his language). “He is known for his attempts to the foil the plans of the wedding. Ma-wa-ha-ha!”
Jillian Morgese (one of the romantic leads, Hero, who marries Claudio played in the film by Fran Kranz), “I was in the background on the Avengers and I met Joss doing that and through that through a series of events I ended up Skyping an audition for this with Joss. I did it and he said I want you to play Hero after I finished.” There were ten members on the panel including Nick Kocher (who plays the important role of First Watchman, no not Rorschach), Jay Hunter (the cinematographer who also worked on the Dollhouse series), and Romy Rosemont as the Sexton. Each had something interesting to say, but only a few were chosen for the brevity of this article. The setting of the film has changed from the play’s Messina to Joss Whedon’s house. Several scenes were shown from the film. There was the scene at Act III, scene three which has Claudio, Leonato, and Pedro talking about Benedict and Beatrice to set their romance into motion. Similar to the play, Benedict is listening in. There is a well shot scene where the three are talking and Benedict is seen through the bay windows next to some bushes. Benedict’s soliloquy is whispered to himself and the shot set-up executes this without seeming too contrived. The trio continue their conversation in the next room. Benedict leaps to the overhear them to strong audience laughs. He is on a lawn and though at foot height brings up a leafy branch to hide himself. These are great broad comic moments.
The following scene has Beatrice (played by Amy Acker) sent to invite Benedict to dinner. Alexis Denisof plays Benedict with some almost absurd physical comedy; posing heroically, stretching, and even doing push-ups. The next scene from the film is from Act IV, scene two where the constables interrogate Conrade in CSI fashion. This is one of the most well known comic scenes in the play with Fillion’s Dogberry offended at being called an ass by Conrade. He gets frustrated at the exchange and wordlessly points for the constables to leave. Fillion does the dialogue one better by trying to put on another’s coat that is too small for him.
Though this article doth cover the Wonder Con panel, it must be shown the very birthplace of the Bard, taken by this very same writer on a trip to the UK and Ireland. Here are photos of Shakespeare’s statue in Stratford-upon-Avon which had a cameo appearance in Gnomeo and Juliet. `Tis not the house of Whedon, but the house of William Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon. What is most telling is that all of the audience was not only laughing at the physical comedy brought by Whedon and company, but also the words of Shakespeare. So Much Ado About Nothing has the potential to be one of the most successful Shakespeare movie, maybe a bit below the Romeo and Juliet films, so Whedon needs to add Black Widow or the Hulk.