Amy Acker stars as Beatrice in Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing and the actress tells us exclusively, this is not her first Shakespearean rodeo. “I studied Shakespeare at SMU,” Acker proudly stated.
Acker’s first gig in Hollywood was in Whedon’s Angel and it was there that she also first met her Much Ado About Nothing co-star Alexis Denisof. The actor is Benedick, and as many Shakespeare fans know, it is the romantic tete-a-tete between him and Beatrice that makes the work one of The Bard’s most popular, as can be seen in this Much Ado About Nothing trailer.
Acker tells us what it is about Whedon that actors flock to him, what it is about Denisof and her chemistry that is so magical, regardless of the venue, and what it was like to be holed up at Whedon’s house for two weeks making a black and white Shakespeare classic for practically nothing.
Whatever they did, it worked on so many levels, as we state in our five-star Much Ado About Nothing review.
Movie Fanatic: This movie has been so important to you. How excited are you that the national release date is finally here?
Amy Acker: It’s been such a slow flow getting to share the movie, it’s just exciting to be able to send my brother an email and say, “Tell everybody in your office to go!” [Laughs].
Movie Fanatic: The film feels like all of you are in summer stock. Talk about the process…
Amy Acker: What I love about watching the movie is it feels how it felt when we were making it. So, it was a party, but hard work. Being around people that you love, no one was making any money, and Joss was spending his own money hanging out in his house… it was such a family affair. There were no trailers. Some people who lived too far away slept on Joss’ couch. It was a really unique and special experience. It would be nice if we could do more movies like that as everyone was there because they wanted to be.
Movie Fanatic: When you look back at your time with this rich ensemble, what do you think it’s going to mean to you?
Amy Acker: This is kind of an ensemble that has been built over my whole career. So, it’s already special because getting to go back and work with Joss and Alexis... which was my first job out here doing Angel and having such an amazing working relationship with them where Joss would write special scenes out of the episode for Alexis and I, so the three of us could work together. We have always enjoyed collaborating and working with each other. Then, to have it 10 years later become this movie and all these other people who I have become friends with, even if I hadn’t worked with them -- Nathan Fillion and Clark Gregg, who I have admired because Joss has this ability to bring people together who are not only talented but amazing people too [laughs]. You know if he’s putting a project together, it’s going to be a great group of people.
Movie Fanatic: When was the first time you truly fell head over heels in love with Shakespeare?
Amy Acker: In college. They had a summer Shakespeare thing at Taos, New Mexico where we would work Shakespeare for all summer – another Shakespeare dream! I did Measure for Measure there and then my first job out of college was doing Repertory Theater in Wisconsin and I did Much Ado About Nothing and I played Hero.
Movie Fanatic: Was it nice to revisit a play and look at it from another set of eyes?
Amy Acker: It was! I was in love with Beatrice. I had always dreamed of playing that role. I thought, “One day I might. I want to be here.” I keep saying I have to have another Shakespeare dream role, but I would just love to play Beatrice again.
Movie Fanatic: Favorite Shakespeare play?
Amy Acker: I love Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Movie Fanatic: What is it about Shakespeare’s voice that we are sitting here today 400 years after his death, talking about him?
Amy Acker: With this play in particular, this is the romantic comedy that all romantic comedies are based on. He brings amazing characters and amazing dialogue. I think this is why Joss is attracted to him. There are so many shows or movies where it’s the cop show. You could watch episode one or one from season seven and they’re still asking the same questions. Joss has this ability in everything he does to meld the worst tragedy with the funniest thing together and it feels like real life. Obviously, he’s a huge Shakespeare fan. But, that’s the thing that he’s drawn the most from Shakespeare. He doesn’t have to stick to a specific genre to make something that can cross all boundaries.
Movie Fanatic: What about Joss impresses you as a storyteller, not a filmmaker, but his innate ability to tell a tale? I mean, to go from The Avengers to Much Ado About Nothing is uncanny.
Amy Acker: Basically, I’ve gotten really spoiled working with him. It’s hard to do something that’s not Joss after seeing how good it can be. I think that’s why every time I hear he’s doing something, I’m like, “Sure, I’d love to be in that," which has worked more than once [laughs]. But also, I just want to watch it. I know that there is going to be amazing characters and he makes it so you care about every single thing on every single frame.
Movie Fanatic: Alexis is so sublime in the film and you and he have such a brilliant verbal tango throughout it. Actor to actor… What is the best part about working with him?
Amy Acker: That’s hard to say. Going back to Angel, he’s so talented. When we did the Shakespeare readings at Joss’ house, you would wonder, “How is he doing that? He is so good.” Getting to be around him is the best part.