Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing, shot in 12 days between the principle photography and the post-production of The Avengers with a cast of friends and colleagues old and new in Whedon’s own home, was the opening night film at the 2013 Seattle International Film Festival. It was a testament to the commitment of the cast to Whedon that four of the film’s stars came with Whedon for the opening gala and sat for interviews with the local and national press.
I was lucky enough to get a few minutes with Nathan Fillion (Dogberry) and Clark Gregg (Deonato), better known to Whedon fans as Captain Mal Reynolds of Firefly and Agent Phil Coulson of The Avengers. No more preamble necessary, but just allow me to point out that the transcript cannot accurately capture the joking byplay and easy laughs shared between these two actors. They had not worked together before Much Ado yet come across as old friends, or at least newfound best buddies bonding over shared love of comic books, affection for Whedon, and mutual respect for their respective talents. I was honored to be welcomed into this little club even for just a few minutes.
Much Ado About Nothing opens in multiple theaters in the Seattle area on Friday, June 21.
I know that the roots of this production come from Joss Whedon’s Shakespeare readings, where he invited members of his TV show casts for brunch at his house and read through a play. Clark, were you a part of that group?
Clark Gregg: (deadpan) Sore subject.
Nathan Fillion: (laughs) I did two of those and Clark… We didn’t know Clark then. Had we known, we probably still wouldn’t have invited him. Because he’s a little too good, he would have raised the bar.
CG: Joss would ask me to drop by some bagels but not come in. No, I didn’t meet Joss until The Avengers. Actually, I met him during Comic Con after Thor, a year before The Avengers, and he came up to me and said, “I want to introduce as part of the cast of The Avengers. I want to use Agent Coulson in The Avengers, is that okay with you?” It was the quickest head nod anybody has ever done. And then after The Avengers I was just kind of brought in, I think, because several people got jobs or passed away and suddenly I was in this movie. But I wasn’t in the brunches though they sound fantastic and I hope we do one in the future sometime.
Much Ado About Nothing was like a 12-day-long brunch, wasn’t it?
CG: It was a brunch, a dinner, and a hell of a cocktail party all rolled into one.
It looked like a hell of a cocktail party. Was there a scene where nobody had a drink in their hand?
CG: Boy, there was a lot of cocktails. Yes, when things get a little testy with all the scandal and the libeling of my daughter, I don’t think there’s a lot of drinking there.
I just want to go on record and say how that was very mean of them.
CG: I’ve never been a fan of people libeling my daughter on her wedding day.
NF: Isn’t libel in print?
CG: Is it like dictation?
(both start laughing)
NF: I remember in Spider-Man where J. Jonah Jameson says, “No, print is libel.”
And that’s where you get your legal expertise, from Spider-Man movies?
NF: Yes, well, there you have it.