Years before geek god Joss Whedon gave up his vacation to film his version of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, he held readings of the Bard’s plays at his house. The couple that read as Much Ado’s stubborn lovers, Beatrice and Benedict? Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof.
Now they are taking those backyard readings to the big screen as two of the stars of Whedon’s highly anticipated film. Exclusive clips shown as WonderCon 2013 have provided further insight into what audiences can expect from this black and white Much Ado that was shot in two weeks at Whedon’s home.
The plot is very much a commentary on romantic love and the expectations that are pushed onto single persons and couples. Beatrice and Benedict along with young-love couple, Hero (Jillian Morgese) and Claudio (Fran Kranz), are at the center of story. The first pair enjoy a relationship based on sarcastic, teasing banter while both proclaim their disdain for love/marriage. The young couple though is enraptured with one another and become a focal point for the wicked doings of antagonist Don John (Sean Maher).
There have been good Shakespeare adaptations such as Hamlet (1996 and 2009), Richard II (2012), and Much Ado About Nothing (1993) starring Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh. Especially of note however, is the widely acclaimed recent stage version of Much Ado starring Doctor Who alums David Tennant and Catharine Tate as Benedict and Beatrice.
Even so making Shakespeare funny and helping audience make sense of the, as Whedon said, “Elizabethan funny talk,” is no easy feat especially if your audience is the general public not theater aficionados. From the looks of it though Whedon has not only succeeded in this respect but also brought new insights to Shakespeare’s timeless dialogue. The brief clips and indeed the trailer have practically cemented the notion that Whedon’s casting is spot on and his modernization flows effortlessly with the original text.
The chemistry between Acker and Denisof is without question. The two already have an on-screen romantic history together (albeit a short-lived one) on Angel and they haven’t lost that spark. In fact, Whedon believes the intensity of the Fred and Wesley relationship on Angel has leant itself to the connection between Beatrice and Benedict. Denisof is the perfect combination of arrogant, silly, and charming while Acker brings a lovely haughtiness to Beatrice’s sarcasm. Supporting characters pull their weight too such as Nathan Fillion’s Dogberry. Fillion’s boyish face and inherent goofiness fits seamlessly with his incompetent constable.
Everything about the film looks marvelous, meaning Shakespeare, movie, and Whedon fans alike will be not only pleased but delighted with this adaptation. Much Ado About Nothing is directed, written, edited and scored by Whedon and is due out June 7. Check out the trailer below: