Remember last October when I let you guys know that I filmed a cameo role in a little movie based on the William Shakspeare play Much Ado About Nothing that was directed by some guy named Joss Whedon? Yeah, well, that film made its worldwide debut at the The Elgin Theatre at the Toronto International Film Festival over the weekend and many of the film’s principal actors were in attendance. Sadly, I could not attend but folks like Amy Acker (Angel), Alexis Denisof (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel), Nathan Fillion (Firefly, Castle), Clark Gregg (The Avengers), Tom Lenk (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and others did attend the red carpet premiere in my stead. My good friends Emma Bates and Joshua Zar were also at the event because they, too, star in the film :D Click below to see some photos from the Much Ado premiere at TIFF and read an AMAZING review of the film itself.
It’s my position that there are films in the world the highest and greatest purpose of which is to be delightful. That the creation of delight is an entirely valid use of one’s talent, and that normal humans have always known this, and it’s only critics who sometimes forget because they are bombarded with so much false and forced delight. So certain projects exist in part to remind you that real delight is an end unto itself. Joss Whedon’s adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing is exactly this kind of film, and because it’s utterly delightful, it’s utterly successful. Famously shot in just 12 days at Whedon’s own house, Much Ado features a lineup of some of Whedon’s favorite actors, some of whom I will list with a partial but not comprehensive list of their Whedon credits, so please do not e-mail me your corrections/completions: Amy Acker (Angel and The Cabin In The Woods) as Beatrice, Alexis Denisof (Buffy, Angel, Dollhouse) as Benedick, Fran Kranz (The Cabin In The Woods, Dollhouse) as Claudio, Clark Gregg (The Avengers) as Leonato, Reed Diamond (Dollhouse) as Don Pedro, and — bless his heart — Nathan Firefly Dr. Horrible Buffy “Joey Buchanan” Fillion as Dogberry the bumbling constable. Perhaps you know this story and perhaps you do not, but suffice it to say that Beatrice and Benedick have a complicated relationship which only gets more complicated when a gaggle of people show up at the house to create your basic chaotic Shakespearean craziness involving intrigue, revenge, and in this adaptation, a lot of boozing and some stuffed animals. More than that, it would be unfair to say, and also, I’d probably get lost in the plot myself. There is, perhaps unsurprisingly, something warmly homemade about this film, which is sparkling and skillfully executed but also amiably loose in places. The house where it’s set is blessed with a lot of big windows and it’s shot in black and white, so there’s a lot of very pretty employment of natural light, even in the interiors. It really does help this story, with all of the overheard conversations and whispered plotting, to be set in a palpably real place where you can see out the windows and up and down the stairs, rather than on a set. Of course, a project this simple would be nowhere without the actors, and Whedon gets fine work out of just about everybody. Among my favorites, Acker is a believably wary Beatrice, Denisof is a frequently goofy but still very romantic Benedick, and Fillion should quite possibly play nothing but Shakespearean law enforcement officers for the remainder of his career. As I watched Much Ado About Nothing, I had the distinct thought, “I wonder whether this is the future.” Not the future, of course — I don’t believe we’re anywhere close to the end of the blockbuster, nor do I believe we’re necessarily entering a new age of Shakespeare — but a big piece of the future. Big films have gotten so big, expensive films so expensive, that all of the risk has to be drained out of them, which often leaves behind a dried-out version of whatever was originally intended … If your goal is spectacle, that often has to be expensive. If it’s the exploration of fascinating settings, that sometimes has to be expensive. But delight does not have to be expensive; it simply does not. There’s a bartender at our hotel in Toronto who delighted me with card tricks. Delight isn’t just beautiful; it’s affordable, too. And that might be just the competitive advantage it needs.
Yes! I had no doubt that the film would turn out beautiful, I mean … Hello, Joss Whedon is a genius. What I’m a bit dismayed most about this review is the total oversight of mentioning that I am in the film for about 3 seconds. IMHO, it’s MY cameo that really makes the film a masterpiece :) Hahahaha. Actually, I have to say, I am just thrilled that I was asked to be on set … that you even get to see me (for a brief moment) in the film is beyond my wildest dreams. Emma and Josh, who star in the film as well, really wanted me to go to TIFF with them but, alas, I had to be in Detroit this weekend. Still, I hear they are all having an amazing time … and I’m so happy to see how well Much Ado is doing at the film festival. The film still needs a studio to buy it but, I think it’s only a matter of time before the bidding war results in a winning studio. Stay tuned, I’m sure there will be more Much Ado news to come soon … I can’t WAIT for all y’all to see this film in theaters :D