The Latest on Much Ado About Nothing

I’m keeping tabs on Joss Whedon’s most recent film endeavor because he is creating a modern adaptation of my favorite Shakespearian play. Which of course makes me feel entitled to bitch slap him if he screws it up.

If you don’t know, the play of Much Ado About Nothing is about Beatrice and Benedict, two people who hate each other with a fiery passion. Their friends and family decide to make it known to each that the other loves them, and thus triggering Cupid’s trap. And then there is a side story about pretty boy  Claudio wanting to marry Hero. But when he hears a rumor that she cheated on him, Claudio calls her a whore at the alter. Such a gentleman.

But anyway, I’m writing this post because finally some more information about this small scale indie movie has come to light. I know the complete cast! Hazaah!

If we all know one thing about Joss Whedon, it’s that more than any other director, he loves reusing his actors. So as would be expected, this list if full of people from his previous work.

For the immortal heroine Beatrice, Whedon chose Amy Acker. I know almost nothing about her other than what I just read on IMBD. What I found out is that Acker is from my neck of the woods: Dallas, Texas. Holla! the only acting I have seen her do was he role in Whedon’s show Dollhouse as the manipulative Dr. Claire. That one role doesn’t tell me much about her capabilities, so hopefully she feels up to the challenge of my high expectations for playing my favorite heroine of all time.

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As for Benedick, Whedon went with Alexis Denisof who is best known for his role as Marshall in How I Met Your Mother. Now that I think of it, I see some similarities between the show and Shakespearian comedy. They both are farcical and full of situational irony. So maybe Denisof will be able to draw on that and pull of an awesome Benedick.

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Nathan Fillion, probably the most famous name on this list wil be playing Dogberry, the hilarious comic relief. Whedon has used Fillion at every opportunity. We all know him from Firefly, but Weedon also featured him in Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog as Captain Hammer, and he was a particularly disturbing villain in Buffy the Vampire Slayer who gouged out Xander’s eye. How dust he?. Based on the range I’ve seen Fillion provide, I think he will make an awesome Dogberry, and I can’t wait to see his performance.

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The role of the villain, Don John who slanders about Hero’s virtue goes to Sean Maher. Also an actor from Firefly, Maher played River’s neurotic brother, Simon. Since I haven’t seen him do any other performance (except for a short-lived appearance on Drop Dead Diva, but that doesn’t count) I don’t really know what to expect from him. Then again, considering that the last actor who played this character in a movie was Keanu Reeves, he won’t have to do much to outshine his predecessor.

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Don Pedro, Don John’s brother will be played by Reed Diamond. Surprise surprise, Diamond was also on Dollhouse as Laurence Dominic, but it’s been a while since I watched the show and I don’t remember him at all. Diamond has been in many other TV shows from Bones to the Mentalist and even 24. Hopefully this time he can do a memorable performance.

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The role of Claudio, the accusatory bastard, will be played by Fran Kranz, another Dollhouse veteran. In my opinion, Kranz played the best role in that show, the scientist Topher Brink. That and the fact that he’s been in both Frasier and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia wins my respect. Although I have to admit I’m not sure how he will portray Claudio, but I’m eager to find out. Kranz is a very fun actor to watch.

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And for the quiet, fair Hero, Whedon selected newbie Jillian Morgese. her first acting gig to date. I don’t think Weedon would give someone a role unless they could really deliver, so I will trust his decision. Don’t abuse my trust.

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I just listed the main characters, but here is the complete cast list:

Amy Acker – Beatrice

Alexis Denisof – Benedick

Nathan Fillion – Dogberry

Clark Gregg – Leonato

Reed Diamond – Don Pedro

Fran Kranz – Claudio

Sean Maher – Don John

Spencer Treat Clark – Borachio

Riki Lindhome – Conrade

Ashley Johnson – Margaret

Emma Bates – Ursula

Tom Lenk – Verges

Nick Kocher – First Watchman

Brian McElhaney – Second Watchman

Joshua Zar – Leonato’s aide

Paul M. Meston – Friar Francis

Romy Rosemont – The Sexton

And introducing Jillian Morgese as Hero

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Joss Whedon does Much Ado About Nothing

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As I am a writer of a movie blog, I’ve been keeping tabs on movies, so as can be imagined from The Avengers shattering box office records, I was reading about the entertainment titian today and found out the news that director Joss Whedon (if you’ve been living in a box for the last ten years and never heard of him, Whedon is known not only for directing the Avengers but also for shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Doll House, and Fire Fly) is now working on a smaller scale film adaptation of Shakespeare’s comedy Much Ado About Nothing.

Here is a little personal information. I am an English major. I am actually about to start working on my PhD in English literature. In high school I use to memorize Shakespeare for fun (yeah, I didn’t have many friends then 🙂 ). Much Ado About nothing is my favorite Shakespearian play ever since I read it when I was 15. So of course, when I found out Whedon is getting in touch to his Bard side, I had a very emotional response. I tried to find everything I could. Sadly, I assume because it’s still early in production, I couldn’t find out very much, but here is what I do know.

The film will be completely black and white. Also interestingly, Whedon did all his filming for Much Ado About Nothing at his small home in Santa Monica. I desperately tried to find the cast, but all I know is that the film features the actors such as Nathan Fillion, Alexis Denisof, Clark Gregg and Fran Kranz.

 

Now, I am a pretty big Joss Whedon fan. I’ve seen every Buffy episode. Loved Fire Fly, and even The Doll House. I think I know every song from Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog by heart. However, I am somewhat skeptical about Whedon doing Shakespeare. Maybe this is just because he’s working with my personal favorite play by the Bard, but I think my concerns are legitimate considering that including The Avengers, pretty much everything Whedon has done is full of monsters and heroes and action. But despite this little kernel of fear, I do have some hope that he will do justice for a play so near to my heart. This is simply because underneath all the monsters and CG and action, everything Whedon has ever directed has tones of female empowerment. There is a reason the Slayer was a female. And Much Ado About Nothing is all about female empowerment. I know, hard to believe that something feminist could ever come from the same writer who created The Taming of the Shrew, but, anyway… The reason I love Much Ado About Nothing so much is the fiery character of Beatrice who is so determined to not have a husband. She detests the character Benedict. They have spars of whit that are incomparable. And since Whedon is so good at creating strong female leads, I am hopeful that his Beatrice will be a tour de force rather than a damsel in distress.

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Of course, there have been other film adaptations of Much Ado About Nothing. Kenneth Branaugh gave it a shot in 1993. He played Benedict and gave the role of Beatrice to his wife Emma Thompson. While Branaugh pretty much defecated on Frankenstein (another one of my favorite pieces of literature) this choice was genius. Right now, Emma Thompson is Beatrice for me. While I have faith in Whedon, I think he’ll have a hard time finding a better actress for his heroine. But I love being pleasantly surprised. Of course, Branaugh also made a horrible casting decision when he gave Keanu Reeves the role of the villain. Actors like Keanu Reeves just don’t belong in Shakespeare. And I think putting him next to great actors like Thompson and Denzel Washington was exceedingly cruel. It makes it painfully obvious just how much Reeves has no acting ability.

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So now I am eagerly awaiting Whedon’s latest film endeavor. Just please, please don’t be an idiot and cast Keanu Reeves. Once was more than enough.