SXSW 2013 MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING Behind the Film
Since I haven’t had the privilege before now to see the masterpiece that is Joss Whedon‘s Much Ado About Nothing, it is by far the one thing I HAD TO see at SXSW this year. The reason behind this was, of course, not only the film itself, but the fact that an almost complete panel of the film’s stars and creators would be taking place immediately after. I had some car trouble that morning which caused me to be late in getting there, even though I stayed in line all morning to ensure I got the sometimes coveted, sometimes reviled SXXpress pass for the event. As I dejectedly stumbled to the front of the Vimeo theater in the Austin Convention Center, I looked at the volunteers at the door and said, “I missed it, didn’t I?”, but lo and behold, several people were walking out right in the moment I walked up and suddenly the heavens parted and four seats had opened, right behind Joss and the cast. Darn my luck.
Unfortunately the film had already started, so it was slightly embarrassing and did not lend itself to an opportunity to chat with say, Nathan Fillion. It was still awesome and the film met, if not exceeded all my expectations. The performances that the cast provided and Joss nurtured were exceptional and I found myself completely lost in Shakespeare in a way I never had before. This is not modernization that takes away from or disrupts the quality of the work, rather it enhances everything about the piece. The cast discussed a variety of topics surrounding the making of this film and as Joss tends to do, despite his self-professed disdain for people, he made it an excessively entertaining and rewarding panel for which to be present. Without further ado, please read on to discover what revelations were made and what was kept under wraps.
One of the most interesting and surprising things to me was how few of the cast members had performed Shakespeare prior to taking on their respective roles. Nathan Fillion, who plays the dopey-ish, comical Dogberry, shared how nervous he was going in to the film since he had no experience with the language or tempo of speech. He conceded that it wasn’t that difficult once you got used to the “floweriness” of it. I felt this was a true Captain Mal statement.
There was a lot of discussion that centered around the sexuality of the film, which was at the forefront of everything. According to Joss, the sexual interpretation was very intentional, with the “element of debauchery” evolving from fun to creepy during the course of the film. Mr. Whedon went on to say that he “wanted everything to run at a very high temperature”. I would have to say mission accomplished, especially considering the kiss between Benedick (Alexis Denisof) and Beatrice (Amy Acker) is on of the best on-screen kisses I have ever seen. Though to be fair, Joss did make it clear that it was “about the human, not the hymen”, when it came to virginal character Hero (Jillian Morgese) and her simple, jilted love Claudio (Fran Kranz).
Throughout the film, we find alcohol as a prominent player in the storyline. Again, Joss said this was intentional and related to the strong sexual theme, lending itself to the lessening of inhibitions. When asked how much real drunkenness there was on-site, Joss said that though the cast had colored water throughout the shoot, there was most likely real drunkenness during a party scene. The explanation for such an admission is this: since they were inviting people into their home they opted not to bring a lot of extras in, but decided to throw a party for friends instead and have people they trusted around the very personal set.
When asked about filming at his own home, Joss said that his wife designed their home, as she is first an architect. Once their house was completed and they saw how amazing a space it was, the next logical step for Joss and Kai was to figure out what film they would shoot there. Finally they came to the conclusion that this was the one. I don’t know what is more amazing about this production, that they filmed it all in the house and yard and still made it feel full and like the setting changed appropriately or that it was filmed in twelve days.
Joss also revealed that though everything was carefully mapped out and specifically worked through with the integrity of the original work a main focus, that it was still a very collaborative work. The actors added much to the tone and detail of the film, enhancing the experience.
There was a lot of love from the cast and crew for Joss, particularly from assistant/co-producer Daniel Kaminsky, who called himself the luckiest guy in the world and followed with the statement, “I would do anything for Joss”. The love affair between Joss and Daniel was not the only bromance that was evident. The Nathan/Joss love-fest was in full effect as well. Nathan shared that his secret to being so awesome was “picking the right coattails” (to ride) and said that Joss has taught him so much throughout their relationship. Joss on the other hand, insisted that Nathan’s talent did not require Joss to teach him anything.
When talk turned to another of Joss’ projects, he was a no-go on a S.H.I.E.L.D. reveal, only saying that he was bringing Clark Gregg back to the fold, commenting only the word “Heimlich”. Joss’ assistant Daniel, who had a major hand in Much Ado About Nothing as co-producer, was actually hired during The Avengers. In discussing the difference between the larger film as it relates to a small production, Joss answered in a way only he could. “The same issues exist with the same resolutions…I’m only ever doing one thing [making movies]”.
Well said, Mr. Whedon, well said.
Much Ado About Nothing will be released this summer, June 7, 2013. Watch my Twitter feed @CatEdison and @ScreenInvasion for more pop culture news, reviews and festival coverage. Check out more photos of the Much Ado Q&A on Screen Invasion’s Facebook Page as well! Check out more film fest coverage by our great team HERE.
This may be a tough one, but who is your favorite Whedon cast member in Much Ado About Nothing? Tell us why in the comments!