Monday, March 18, 2013

Much Ado About Whedon

Sorry for the title. We're going to see that title a lot, aren't we?

Anyways, the trailer for Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing was recently released (film opens June 21). There is jazz and all the people look the same except for Coulson a.k.a. Clark Gregg. I'm not crazy about the trailer. Despite the contemporary setting, it looks really, really similar to Kenneth Branagh's 1993 movie version, with a lovely estate playing a character in both. In fact, Whedon has said that his mansion, designed by his wife Kai Cole, inspired the production. On the other hand, we can be assured that this version will not have Keanu Reeves struggling with his lines while being massaged by incredibly good sport and fine Shakespearean actor Richard Clifford. I am looking forward to the film very much, and I'm confident Whedon will do an excellent job with it.

The 1993 cast. Keanu, you tried. Denzel, Emma, and Kenneth were perfect.
Hero, you don't have to marry Wilson from House. Really.

What I am most excited about:

-Clark Gregg as Leonato. He is perfect for Shakespeare. When I was re-reading A Midsummer Night's Dream after watching The Avengers (not related), I couldn't help but think about what I would do if I had to cast all the Avengers actors in Dream (obviously*). Gregg, I thought, would be a perfect Theseus. He's got that ability to play older, dignified, but not flaw-free men.

-Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof as Beatrice and Benedick. I looooove Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh in these roles, but I'm also interested to see what this talented pair does with this smart, sharp, secretly-softies couple.

-Nathan Fillion as Dogberry. What Michael Keaton did with Dogberry in the Branagh version was a perfectly valid way to play an Elizabethan/Jacobean clown character (imho), but it felt a little out of place in the film. As we saw in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog and countless Firefly outtakes, Fillion can do a cheeseball that's a bit more restrained.

-Seeing how feminist Whedon deals with the misogynistic elements in the play. What I find so interesting about Much Ado is that it has one of Shakespeare's most positive couples (Beatrice and Benedick) and one of his worst (Hero and Claudio). I'd never want the text or intention changed, but subtle acting and directing choices can really make a difference (just think of different productions of The Taming of the Shrew). It looks like Whedon's handled that well, as he says that they "stress[ed] the human not the hymen" in the adaptation.

*For the record, here is my cast. I have a lot of time to think on the bus, ok?

Theseus: Clark Gregg. Mr. Regal.
Hippolyta: Gwyneth Paltrow. Mrs. Regal.
Egeus: Stellan Skarsgard. It's Stellan Sarksgard. The Bard's not going to be a problem for him.
Lysander: Jeremy Renner. He'd have a good level of controlled intensity when arguing his case to Theseus.
Hermia: Scarlett Johansson. Small, fierce, pretty.
Helena: Cobie Smulders. Tall, comedy chops.
Demetrius: Chris Evans. Can do the douche thing.
Oberon: Samuel L. Jackson. I'd love to hear him boom, "Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania!"
Titania: Natalie Portman. She was on a computer screen, so she counts. And she could nail this role with storminess and sensuality.
Puck: Tom Hiddleston. He could actually do just about any role in this play, but he'd be fun and awesome as Robin Goodfellow.
Bottom: Robert Downey Jr. Classic ham. Just imagine him doing the Bottom's Dream soliloquy. I'm going to imagine this whenever I'm sad.
Peter Quince: Mark Ruffalo. Mostly for the stuttering prologue scene, bless.

I have no idea what you'd do with Chris Hemsworth. I don't think you could even toss him in one of the workmen roles. Maybe Francis Flute, as a joke when he plays Thisbe? I really have no idea. He'd be a fine Lysander, but I still think Renner'd be better. Let's just go with Francis Flute.


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