Interview: Alexis Denisof & Amy Acker | MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING

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Interview: Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof

Starburst: Could you tell us a little about how the film came about?

Alexis Denisof: We had always had the fun of reading Shakespeare’s plays at Joss’s house – it’s something that started back around season three of Buffy when he found himself surrounded by enough actors, writers and friends who loved Shakespeare. So he could host these casual readings of the plays which we get together around once a month to do. That went for many years and he had often said casually “it’d be so cool if I could film one of these somehow,” but I don’t think we ever had a clue it would come to this.

We all saw the original tweet and were surprised by the fact that you’d made the film – how quickly did everything move from idea to actually announcing it online?

Amy Acker: I think Nathan [Fillion] kind of took care of it for us (laughs).

AD: He was our spokesman in social media.

AA: I think Joss’s main task during the filming was to not let Nathan spread it through Twitter.

AD: I think Joss agreed that it was time so they announced it, setting up the website not long afterwards, just to let people know that this thing had happened. And then he had to go to work editing it, because at that point it was just a bunch of takes ‘in the can’ as they say.

When you were making the film, did you realise that it would receive this much buzz?

AA: Luckily we really didn’t. This has all been incredibly surprising and exciting because I think we would have had just as much fun making it without cameras rolling. It was just a joy to all get together and to play these parts, but no one expected any of this. At the beginning Joss said that he’d had success with iTunes and a few days into it, he said “maybe a festival would be fun.” You could see Joss getting more and more excited about what was happening so the fact that other people are enjoying it too has been really exciting for all of us.

Are either of you Shakespeare buffs?

AD: Both of us, I’d say. I actually studied acting in London at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art because I liked Shakespeare and the classics. I knew I’d get a chance to do more of it and those were the actors who I really admired. So I also had the good fortune, when I finished my studies, of joining the Royal Shakespeare Company – my first professional theatre experience was a production of Hamlet where I choreographed the duel. To be standing in the wings several times a week and watch them perform was as good as any education you could have in Shakespeare. So this is a wonderful return to something I love.

AA: I don’t know if buff is the right word but I definitely love the play and my first job out of school was Much Ado. I was Hero back then.

Much Ado About Nothing

Fans of Joss and yourselves are well aware of the back garden readings that you’ve been doing over the years, what made Much Ado the one to put out there rather than others?

AD: There were a few elements but there was a practical consideration that it all takes place in one location, and Joss happens to live in a perfect location for it. He has said, thankfully subsequent to shooting it, that he had always had it in mind to shoot this play with Amy and I in these roles. I’m glad we didn’t know that, because it would have probably terrified both of us, but all of that conspired along with his wife telling him, “let’s not go on vacation, why don’t you do that project you’ve always dreamed about.”

So he went off, he read it, and he realised that he had something very important he wanted to say about it. From them on, it was just a case of gathering the troops and getting it done. It fell together very naturally, because of course everybody wanted to be a part of it – who wouldn’t? We already had a rapport, as many of us had worked together or at least knew each other, so we could get going rapidly up to the speed required to get it done in twelve days.

You mentioned that you’d worked with many of the cast before, was there anyone you hadn’t worked with and were glad to get the chance to?

AD: There were a few new faces. It’s another great group as brought to you by Joss Whedon. Jillian [Morgese] and Clark [Gregg]...

AA: ...and Riki [Lindhome], Nick [Kocher] and Brian [McElhaney].

AD: They came in different ways and via different connections. Some of them Joss didn’t even know and he just called them out of the blue, and some of them he had worked with before and thought would be a good fit. And he was absolutely right.

Was there any particular scene you enjoyed filming?

AD: We both love the “if I were a man” scene for different reasons. Amy’s performance in that scene is just extraordinary, I loved being in the room when she was doing that. That would probably go down as my favourite scene to be in and watch now, for the rest of my life. But the whole shooting of it was fun – I can’t say there was a scene I didn’t enjoy.

AA: Every scene that I got to do with Alexis was my favourite but that was really a fun, and hard, scene. I think that it’s one of those that, at the last moment, I don’t think we knew how it was going to end. It felt really right.

AD: If you get to the end of a really knotty scene then you never really know how you’re going to get to the last beats but, if you arrive at them and you know that you’re in the right place then it means everything that came beforehand is absolutely right. And Amy just brought us right to the end of that scene.

AA: ...It was both of us.

AD: No, well, it was a team effort but I have to say that there is a special chemistry between Joss and Amy and myself. We always kind of bring something new and exciting out of each other – we have trust and also great joy when we work together. It’s my favourite combination.

Much Ado About Nothing

A lot of people are excited to see this film because of Fred and Wesley.

AA: We really didn’t realise until a while after. Because we’re friends in real life and have spent all of this time together between Angel and now it took us a minute to be like “oh, yeah, there’s a happy ending there.”

Providing there was a miracle and some big plot twists, would you ever want to revisit the characters?

AA: I think it would take a miracle.

AD: I think you would have to pull them out of Angel, in a way. It would be interesting, but I think you’d have to find a new place for them in a way; a new construct in which those two characters could work out the things that they need to work out. I don’t think you could just resurrect Angel as a concept and a show and make that really work again. It’s been a long time.

AA: It’s a problem when the lead character isn’t supposed to get older.

AD: That’s one issue. People think they want a show back but really Angel is out there in so many shapes and forms now. At the time when we were making it, it was a funny little left-field show that people had to go find and now I see its descendants everywhere. So I don’t think there’s necessarily the need for the show, Angel, but I think Wesley and Fred/Illyria are special and if you can find a universe for them to inhabit then I would definitely go there.

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING is in UK Cinemas June 14th.

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