Joss Whedon’s Adaptation of Shakespeare’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’

Published 4 years ago by , Updated August 3rd, 2013 at 9:23 am,

Joss Whedons Much Ado About Nothing Film Joss Whedons Adaptation of Shakespeares Much Ado About Nothing

Prior to directing The Avengers, Joss Whedon’s star had begun to fall a bit, as a result of fiscal failures like the film Serenity and the TV show Dollhouse (never mind that the latter of those projects was also a critical failure, and disliked by all but the most devout Whedonites).

Now, after directing Marvel’s biggest superhero film to date, he’s already directed another film in secret – a semi-modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing starring all of his acting friends and frequent collaborators.

The indie film, which was shot in black-and-white, was created in just a month – from inception to production – immediately after Avengers was finished filming.  Check out the official website here and the press release here.

The fairly sizable cast includes Nathan Fillion (Malcom Reynolds in Firefly and Serenity), Alexis Denishof (Wesley on Buffy and Angel), Amy Acker (Fred on Angel), Fran Kranz (Topher in Dollhouse), Clark Gregg (Agent Coulson in The Avengers), and Sean Maher (Simon on Firefly and Serenity) as the villain, Don John.

As to how the movie came about – courtesy of EW – Joss Whedon said:

“Well, it’s not a bit secret that I’ve done these [Shakespeare] readings before, and I always had a vague notion of shooting Much Ado. But I didn’t really have a take on it. And then, for some reason, I kinda sorta did. As we were finishing The Avengers in New York, my wife and I were planning our vacation for our 20th anniversary. And she said, ‘Let’s not take the vacation. Make a movie instead.’ I was like, ‘I’m not even sure if I can adapt the script, cast the movie, and prep it in a month.’ And she was like, ‘Well, that’s your vacation time, so you do it.’ And so I did.”

On his decision to cast “Wesley” and “Fred” from Angel in the lead roles:

“[W]e’d done a reading of it starring Amy and Alexis years ago, and that’s when I knew that if I could ever do it, I would do it with them.”

Check out an image of Amy and Alexis from the film, below (click to enlarge):

Alexis Denishof and Amy Acker in Much Ado About Nothing 280x300 Joss Whedons Adaptation of Shakespeares Much Ado About Nothing

On whether or not the film will be distributed in theaters, Whedon said:

“I haven’t heard anything yet [regarding interest from distributors]. I’ve just been enjoying the Internet response. We’re feeling our way on this one, just like Dr. Horrible. I do mean [for] it to be in theaters. But we haven’t gotten any real plan except [going to] film festivals because it sounded like it would be festive.”

Sean Maher as Don John in Much Ado About Nothing Joss Whedons Adaptation of Shakespeares Much Ado About Nothing

Sean Maher (Firefly) plays Don John in ‘Much Ado About Nothing’

On his take on the famed Shakespeare tale:

“I had trouble at first, because it had the words ‘About Nothing’ in the title. So I was like, ‘I don’t have anything to say about nothing.’ But really when I started pouring over it, I got a very strong sense of how a little bit dark and twisted it is. The movie’s in black-and-white partially because it’s kind of a noir comedy. I realized that everybody in it behaves like such a dolt — an articulate dolt, but a dolt. I fixated on this notion that our ideas of romantic love are created for us by the society around us, and then escape from that is grown-up love, is marriage, is mature love, to escape the ideals of love that we’re supposed to follow. So that clicked for me when I realized, oh, I get why it matters everybody goes through the weird machinations we go through.”

Honestly, it sounds just a wee bit pretentious, but maybe that’s just a pitfall of PR. Furthermore, it’ll be incredibly impressive – surprising, even – if Whedon was able to produce a totally top-notch screenplay and finished product in a month’s time.

For the entire interview – and interviews with stars Sean Maher and Amy Acker – click here.

On a slightly unrelated note, is that peach and gray baseball shirt (second image from the top) the only one Joss Whedon owns? At the very least, it seems to be the only one he’s ever photographed wearing — previously he was seen wearing the shirt at SDCC and on the set of The Avengers. Is this a grand conspiracy somehow related to long-sleeved baseball t-shirts or are we just imagining things?

See the evidence for yourself:

Follow me on Twitter @benandrewmoore.

Stay tuned for more information about Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing as it becomes available. Meanwhile, Joss Whedon’s other little known indie film, The Avengers, hits theaters May 4th, 2012.

Source: Entertainment Weekly

Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:


Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.

If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it. Keep in mind that we do not allow external links in the comments.

  1. I loved Dollhouse.

    • I actually liked it towards the end of the first season (kinda) because some of the writing and acting was really good. The thing that really put me off in the first place were the main characters, Echo and the FBI guy. I found them very unlikeable and Eliza Dushku’s horrible acting didn’t help.

  2. “Dollhouse” was an amazingly unpredictable and underrated TV Show. Fox failed to promote it by showing it on Friday nights.

  3. I liked it.
    Everyone expects a new series to fly right off the mark into the top 10’s and when it doesn’t meet their narrow criteria right away, then they label it as a fail.
    Not fair at all, in my opinion.

  4. I can see how someone could take his comments as pretentious, but, I don’t perceive it as that. Lots of great art was made on the fly and on the moment, not worrying about making it perfect. Hell, lots of great music is made in the moment mid performance. Just a thought.

    • That’s not what I meant by pretentious. He seems to be elevating his work (that no one has seen yet) to a creative plane it doesn’t deserve to be elevated to (yet). I mean, it’s an adaptation of Shakespeare. Could be awesome! But then again, it could just be another Shakespeare adaptation. The flowery, glowing language feels strange when it’s applied to a film by its own creator.

      • I can see that, but it feels to me he’s rather talking about the creative process and his understanding of the material. I didn’t really see any real commentary on the quality of the film. Honestly I think he’s just a little excited and eccentric about doing something he has wanted (implied) to do for a long time.

  5. Loved Kenneth Branagh’s version right up until Keanu Reeves showed up as Don John — who the hell thought it was OK to cast Keanu in Shakespeare?
    Sean Maher is a x500 improvement –now I just wonder how Whedon’s vision will come off. Some modernized Shakespeare movies are pretty good… some are absolutely terrible.

    • yeah seriously what the hell was keanu doing in there? don john is actually a cool villain and there is nothing in keanu career would qualify him as a legit shakespearian actor.

      moreover isn’t he suppose to be denzel’s brother?

  6. Kenneth Branagh (Thor Director) starred in and directed the last film adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing

    Micheal Keaton (Tim Burton’s Batman) also starred in Kenneth Branagh’s version

    are comic books the modern day Shakespeare plays? haha, just a thought.

  7. Dollhouse was awful. I fail to see how anyone can defend it. Will watch this because I like the actors, plus its a really good play, not one of Shakespeare’s best in my opinion. I prefer his darker stuff.

  8. I hope Joss Whedon does a great job at The Avengers, let’s hope it works out well.

    I like Kenneth Branagh’s Much Ado About Nothing, it was a amazing movie adaption.

    I watched it in my school in Year 8 I think in Birmingham.

    I always wanted a modern day version of the play because I think it would work out well if it has the right director and the right script.

  9. Dollhouse was hit and miss. So no, it’s not impossible to see how anyone could defend it.

    I don’t really see how his comments are pretentious at all. He’s not really elevating his work to some kind of pedestal, he’s just offering his own personal insight on the work he’s already done. What’s wrong with that? He adapted it, he’s supposed to be thinking about the film like that.

    • I don’t remember there being many hits apart from Eliza Dushku looking hot

      • I haven’t watched the series in a while, but I recall there being a few episodes that I like. The two part finale in season one (even if the last scene was lame), the episode before that, a couple in season 2, Epitah One, the episode (set in the future) that was not aired, but was released on the DVD, which is definitely the best episode the series ever made. I wish the series would have had more direction and gone that way, it was disappointing most of the time. Still, it’s not all bad.

  10. it’s not a t.v. show, Will couold’ve waited,! Fav sucked on IM2 leaving the editing to the suits. avengers is in your hands!! don’t bugger it up

  11. Hi there, simply became alert to your weblog thru Google, and located that it is truly informative. I’m gonna be careful for brussels. I will be grateful if you continue this in future. Lots of other folks shall be benefited from your writing. Cheers!