Joss Whedon took about as much of a right turn after the success of The Avengers as one could take with Much Ado About Nothing. After his Marvel superhero conglomerate climbed its way into the top 10 grossing films of all time, Whedon turned to an inspiration that is centuries old -- William Shakespeare.
We visited with Whedon to get not only the inside scoop on why he did what he did, but also why of all the Shakespeare he chose Much Ado About Nothing, and what it was like to make a movie where nobody died. “It was (expletive) weird! I was like, ‘I don’t have any death. I’ll add sex,’” he said and laughed.
As anyone who is familiar with the story previewed in the Much Ado About Nothing trailer knows, romance does indeed abound and after viewing it, it is easy to see that Shakespeare was the father of the romantic comedy.
Off all the Shakespeare classics, Whedon felt this one was most apt for him to adapt.
“I love Much Ado. It’s hilarious and it’s accessible, but it’s also very dark and it has a lot to say about love, not all of it good, and how we behave. It poses a lot of interesting questions. It doesn’t resolve all of them, even though it has a happy ending,” Whedon said. “It’s this open debate about the way we behave and the way we’re expected to. It’s fascinating to me. But, the short answer is Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker. That’s why I wanted to do it.”
As enormous as a challenge as it was for Whedon to get The Avengers to where he wanted, the filmmaker admitted that making a Shakespeare film was equally as difficult… just different. And according to our Much Ado About Nothing review, Whedon has outdone himself.
“It’s all the same job. It’s about, ‘Why is everybody here? What is the most emotionality and the most humor I can get out of this moment?’ Trying to adapt Shakespeare is certainly as daunting as trying to make a superhero movie, but for different reasons,” Whedon said.
"For me, the level at which things are working doesn’t matter. It’s only about right now and, ‘Is this the most I can get out of this?’ There isn’t really a difference. Although God knows it was lovely doing this after The Avengers -- just because it was all so compressed. We accomplished so much, so quickly that you were fed back.”
Whedon thinks that Shakespeare should be and is as relevant to audiences in 2013 as it was when The Bard first premiered his work.
“The stuff he’s talking about is universal. I relate to it, as much as anything I’ve ever seen or read. The poetry of the thing is extraordinary, and it’s lovely to be able to interpret through that. What we’re talking about is love, identity, jealousy, pain and all the things that we still need to talk about,” Whedon said.
When asked what his “gateway drug” into the mesmerizing world of Shakespeare was, his answer should not surprise given the work he chose to bring to the silver screen.
“Much Ado really was the gateway drug. I saw a beautiful production at the Open Air Theatre at Regent’s Park in London. They just nailed it, and it was hilarious. I was stunned by not just how funny, but also how contemporary and accessible it was. I had read Shakespeare and I was interested in Shakespeare, but it had never just opened itself to me, in that way,” Whedon said.
“In that moment when Benedick says, ‘This can be no trick!’ with much authority, after the most obvious trick that’s ever been played, I was just like, ‘Really?! Shakespeare will do that? He’ll go that far?!’ Something just clicked. I saw that production three times!”