Much Ado About Joss: Whedon Balances Avengers with Shakespeare…

“I would also describe ‘Avengers 2’ as a passion project,” he said. “I don’t take any project for which I have no passion. Why would you do that?”

The Sunday New York Times had an interesting interview with Joss Whedon, the prolific writer, producer and director who shared with writer
Dave Itzkoff an unusual moment in his life, in fall 2011, when he had just finished principal photography on the soon-to-be comic-book blockbuster “The Avengers.”


To clear his head, so to speak, he used his down time to make another movie: a black-and-white adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing.”

It was shot in 12 days at his home in Santa Monica and starred actors he’d worked with on his TV shows, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel,” “Firefly” and “Dollhouse,” as well as on “The Avengers.”

Pretty awesome, right?

At first, I was wishing it was a different Shakespeare piece considering how much I absolutely love the Kenneth Branagh version which sparked my interest in filmmaking. But after reading this interview AND realizing that 20 years has passed, I’m really curious to see what Whedon has done with his version.

Apparently Shakespeare readings at Whedon’s house was something actors did for fun. And he benefited because he could see untapped potential in his actors.

Serendipity in the Edit Suite

While rereading “Much Ado” on the set of “The Avengers,” Mr. Whedon said he was struck by the intertwining tales of Beatrice and Benedick, and Hero and Claudio, as they fall in love and fight and reunite, and reminded of the screwball romances of directors like Billy Wilder and Preston Sturges.

“I went, ‘Oh, it’s been staring at me for years,’ ” he said. “‘This is a very dark, very complex deconstruction of a romantic comedy, and I’m so in.”

And so, for perhaps the first time in history, a team of superheroes was saved by Shakespeare. Whedon stopped second guessing himself.

Per the interview:

Mr. Whedon found that when he returned to postproduction work on “The Avengers,” he was far less conflicted about cutting down that film, and no longer felt like he was losing control of the project.

“I came back from ‘Much Ado’ going, ‘That’s the point,’ ” he said. “ ‘The film is not called “Joss.” It’s called “The Avengers,” and when I’m done editing it, it will still be a film by me.’ ”


But it was the close of the interview that really struck me as Whedon discussed what he had learned
from both kinds of filmmaking — that one is no less real or important than the other, and that “The Avengers” was no less a passion project than “Much Ado About Nothing,”

“I would also describe ‘Avengers 2’ as a passion project,” he said. “I don’t take any project for which I have no passion. Why would you do that?”

First of all, good for him. Makes me want to watch whatever he writes and/or directs.

Second, and more important, it is a reminder to all of us to pursue things we are passionate about. And if we are in a situation where we are working to pay the bills doing something rather mundane, find an angle that you can be passionate about. It takes being super-proactive and creative, but absolutely can be done.


Check out the trailer for Whedon’s version. Way, way different than Branagh’s.

And this is a clip of its awesome beginning. Talk about pulling you into a story. Awesome!


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