Joss Whedon goes from Avengers to Shakespeare with ‘Much Ado About Nothing’

Joss Whedon went from superheroes to Shakespeare with "Much Ado About Nothing." Credit: Getty Images
Joss Whedon went from superheroes to Shakespeare with “Much Ado About Nothing.”
Credit: Getty Images

Joss Whedon admits that when he told some people about his long-held desire to make a film version of one of Shakespeare’s plays, there was a fair amount of head-scratching. For his rapidly produced labor of love — filmed over 12 days at the director’s home just after he’d wrapped “The Avengers” — Whedon went with the comedy “Much Ado About Nothing,” discovering quickly that it wasn’t all a laughing matter.

How long have you been sitting on this one?
I’ve wanted to do something like this for decades — God, it’s sad that I’m so old I can say that. I’d always thought this would be the one to shoot. But I never had a take on it. I never felt like I had something to say about the text. And then at some point right at the end of “The Avengers,” that changed. It sort of opened itself to me and I went, “Oh, wait a minute. I know exactly what I have to say about this and how I would want to make this.” I had a week of vacation coming up, and I was like, “OK…”

What was that one thing?
I gave myself up to the darkness of the piece. There’s a huge amount of deception and drama, and the stakes are actually pretty dire for a lot of the characters; and at the same time there’s absurdly broad comedy. Looking at it as a whole and realizing how much of it is invested in all of the characters and unlocking the motivations of even the smaller characters, it started to make sense, and a lot of it was kind of unlovely — the idea of two people who are tricked into being in love, two people who are tricked into not being in love.

And almost as importantly, it all takes place in one place. And in addition to always wanting to film that text, I’d always wanted to film that place, which was my house. That lent itself very well to filmmaking because it’s a beautifully designed house.

Is there a sense of showing off in using your own house as the set?
Well, you know, it’s not this palatial place. It was designed by my wife, who’s an architect, and it just has an idiosyncrasy and a flow and a grace that is very comfortable. It’s not like a giant, pillared house. We wanted to feel at home; at the same time we wanted to feel like these guys were living the life.

Why did you decide to shoot it in black and white?
Part of it was to give it almost a ’60s feel. We referred to Leonato’s estate as the Kennedy Compound — everybody was drunk the entire time. Some of the decision-making in this play could only be attributed to being very drunk. So we wanted to give a little bit of an old-fashioned feel. It also meant that we could shoot after it got dark with artificial light and not worry about it looking different. But at the very beginning it just came from the fact that my take on it was very noir. It very much was a noir comedy.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

New statue of Penn State's Paterno set for…

By David DeKokHARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - Fundraising for a new statue depicting Joe Paterno "as the man he was and not Joe the football coach"…

National

On newly released tape, 'Squeaky' Fromme says was…

Manson Family member Squeaky Fromme told a mental health examiner in newly released interview the "X" she carved in her forehead was meant to separate her from "the system."

Local

New York-based Century 21 store coming to The…

The former Strawbridge & Clothier building will once again host a department store. City officials on Thursday announced New York-based Century 21 Department Stores will…

National

Electric Zoo tickets on sale Tuesday as festival…

Electric Zoo tickets go on sale Tuesday. The festival announced plans to amp up security after two attendees died last year from apparent drug overdoses.

Music

Championship of Collegiate a Cappella: Students who are…

Tickets to this Saturday’s International Championship of Collegiate a Cappella reportedly sold out within 11 hours of going on sale.

Music

M.I.A. talks 'Matangi,' divinity, spontaneity and holograms

"There’s pressure for me to become a theatrical production like 'Glee,' or something" says M.I.A., "It’s like, 'the pressure’s on, bitches.'"

Movies

Tribeca: 'Goodbye to All That' star Paul Schneider…

Paul Schneider talks about his new film "Goodbye to All That," not acting too much and how he'd rather indulge in simple pleasures than play the scene.

The Word

Taylor Swift battles paparazzi daily at Tribeca penthouse

We're entranced by these photos of poor Taylor Swift leaving her Tribeca apartment.

NBA

Jason Collins named to Time's 100 Most Influential…

Jason Collins was named to the list after coming out as the first openly gay player to appear in an NBA game.

MLB

The return of Cole Hamels brings optimism

Cole Hamels’ quality start Wednesday was a nice change of pace from his recent season debuts.

MLB

Tony Gwynn Jr. a nice surprise for Phillies

Tony Gwynn Jr. has been a plus in every way for the Phillies.

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24…

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24 version

Food

Hai Street Kitchen opening in Rittenhouse May 22

Japanese cuisine will get a Chipotle-style twist at Hai Street Kitchen & Co., a new casual, quick-food restaurant opening near Rittenhouse Square on May 22.…

Parenting

New study: Inside the wage gap between boys…

According to a new study, there's a wage gap between boys and girls, with boys earning more allowance for less chores.

Tech

From Apple TV to Fire TV, big changes…

Apple is set to launch a new generation of it's Apple TV, which grossed over $1 billion in 2013. But competition from Amazon and Google looms.

Style

Katy Perry releases a new Claire’s collection

Katy Perry expands her empire by releasing an accessories collection at Claire's.