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Joss Whedon reveals “Much Ado About Nothing” details, will hit film festivals in 2012

Joss Whedon reveals “Much Ado About Nothing” details, will hit film festivals in 2012 (photo)

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When fans of Joss Whedon discovered that the beloved television director was going to be helming “The Avengers” for Marvel, speculation ran rampant as to which of his circle of actors from the Whedonverse he would call upon to be a part of the film. Would Nathan Fillion play Hawkeye or Eliza Dushku play The Scarlet Witch? In the end, Whedon didn’t chose any familiar faces from his previous projects, but he’s making up for that now.

In the month since “The Avengers” wrapped, Whedon cast and shot a modern adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” which was announced yesterday by “Firefly’s” Fillion. The movie pretty much only sports familiar faces from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel,” “Firefly,” “Dollhouse” and even “The Avengers.” Whedon and two of his stars — Amy Acker (“Angel,” “Dollhouse”) and Sean Maher (“Firefly,” “Serenity”) — caught up with Entertainment Weekly to spill the beans about the film.

“It’s very modern. The language, the jokes, and the attitudes translate really, really easily. [The actors] do say the words as they’re written [in the play], but they connect to a modern audience in a way that portions of the other comedies don’t necessarily,” Whedon said of his adaptation.

The movie is shot in black-and-white, and Whedon said that’s because he views it as a “noir comedy.” It’s an adaptation he’s been wanting to make for many years, and even did a reading of it with Acker and Alexis Denisof (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel,” “Dollhouse”) three years ago. That was when he knew he wanted them to star in the film.

But it wasn’t until he wrapped “The Avengers” and he and his wife Kai were about to go on a month-long vacation to Italy to celebrate their 20-year anniversary that Whedon was convinced to make the film. Kai, with whom he co-runs the production company Bellwether Pictures, suggested that he create this film in that month instead. And so he did.

Whedon made some calls to some of his regulars, like “The Avengers'” Clark Gregg and “Buffy,” “Angel” and “Cabin in the Wood’s” Tom Lenk, to join the ensemble cast, and they quickly came running. He financed and shot the entire project in his Santa Monica estate, and wrapped shooting in 12 days (it ended on Saturday). Since production only lasted a month — and he very nicely asked his cast not to tweet about it — Whedon managed to keep the film a secret until he was ready to announce it. He says he plans to start bringing the movie to film festivals in early 2012.

“I’ve just been enjoying the Internet response. We’re feeling our way on this one, just like ‘Dr. Horrible.’ I do mean 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,” Whedon said.

Acker said she wasn’t quite sure what to expect when Whedon asked her to join the movie, but came on board immediately anyways.

“Alexis and I met with Joss maybe one or two times right after we decided that we were doing it, and then we rehearsed kind of the week before. But when we showed up the first day, I was like, ‘Oh, this is a real movie!'” she said. “We didn’t quite know what it was going to be, and seeing all of the trucks and the lights and everything, everyone was kind of like, ‘Oh, we really are doing a movie!'”

She and Maher described the movie as a 12-day-long party and reunion with some of their former Whedonverse cast members. Both expressed their undying loyalty to Whedon, and said they were ready to jump to do whatever he asked of them. Maher had a commitment to “The Playboy Club” at the time, though the show has since been canceled, but called up his manager to move around his filming dates so he’d be able to participate in “Much Ado” as Don John.

“I had an email from Joss, telling me that he was putting together a cast for Much Ado About Nothing, and he wanted me to come play Don John. He said, ‘I need a sexy villain, what sayeth you?'” Maher recalled. “I initially was terrified because I’ve never done Shakespeare, and Shakespeare with Joss — I always want to do right by him because I love him so much. So I told him, I’m absolutely on board, let me just make sure I can clear the dates.”

Whedon said he had some trouble figuring out the angle he was going to take on the project, but once he did it was all smooth sailing.

“I realized that everybody in it behaves like such a dolt — an articulate dolt, but a dolt,” he explained. “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.”

Are you looking forward to Whedon’s take on Shakespeare’s classic comedy? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

via GIPHY

Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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