After touring film festivals since last fall, Joss Whedon’s version of Much Ado About Nothing has begun its regular run at five theaters in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Two cast members are working hard to get people to spread the word about this movie, including a visit at the City by the Bay. More after the jump….
After being in Q and A sessions in three showings of Much Ado in two days, Alexis Denisof and Tom Lenk appeared after the 7:30 showing of the movie on June 8th at the Century San Francisco Center multiplex. Some of the audience were surprised to see them. Talking to the movie critic for the San Francisco Examiner, they recalled how the film was filmed in twelve days at Joss’ house for a very small budget.
Denisof said the best advice he got for the movie was to just learn your lines, which is important when making a small-budget movie. “We had so little time that now when I look back,” he said, “I’m so glad I wasn’t wasting the few takes we had on messing up my lines.”
Lenk said he had to adjust to just learning the lines for that day’s shooting to learning the whole play before filming began. “Typically we do a play, what helps you get it in your head is ‘Oh, I grab a beer on this line, and I walk on this line’, that helps the line go in your head.”
Denisof admits the movie seems almost like rehearsal, but the actors worked very hard not to forget their lines and the process got better as it went along. He did admit in the scene where Benedict is jogging outside the mansion, it was a bit tough for the cameraman to keep up. Lenk, meanwhile, says after working with Nathan Fillion, maybe Dogberry and Verges (their roles) should have their own show.
The audience then had its turn for questions. The first was whether the booze in the film was real. It wasn’t…at least not during filming.
Another person asked about Benedict’s Jack Bauer-type moves when he’s eavesdropping on Don Leonardo and Claudio. Denisof said it took some planning to decide where to hide or jump. “There was a point when I said ‘if you’ve got a good take of the shoulder roll, and diving in and rolling’”, he said, “’just let me know because I’d save a couple of those.’” He admits his decision to hide behind a very small shrub was spur-of-the-moment. He said it was terrible gag, but still popular with the crowd.
They talked about how great it was to work with Fillion, who almost bowed out of the play because he never did Shakespeare before. On set though he was relaxed and gave “extremely warm hugs.”
Lenk had his worries, too. “I was completely terrified,” he said, “I had my lines written on note cards in my pocket the whole time.” However, he was able to play off of Fillion in the police scenes. Lenk said Whedon was also a great director to work with, because he could help him out and not yell at him, unlike other directors…and quickly said “Transformers.”
Both men praised Whedon, who has been part of their acting lives for years…
“If you start thinking about what Joss has done,” Lenk said, “and his creative genius, and his intellect and his humor and his wisdom, you’ll want to take a nap, too much for your body to handle.”
Denisof described Joss as a collaborator: “He’s full of all this amazing ideas, and he’s a genius, but he is also leaving space for you to bring whatever it is that you can contribute, and then that’s the fun of it. It’s having the dialogue with somebody that is so smart, and his great ideas, and something isn’t working, he can turn it, and find a revelation for you in a very simple way.”
He added that Joss wanted to say to say something about men and women, how they handle love, and he expressed it in the movie.
Then both men took a poll of the audience. Nearly everyone admitted they came because it was a Joss Whedon film. It was the same number of people who were asked if they came to see a Shakespeare film. About ten percent, though, said they just wanted to see a movie.
Denisof and Lenk stayed afterwards to pose for pictures, and asked fans to tell their friends to see Much Ado About Nothing when it comes to their town.
That will likely happen. The latest box office numbers revealed the film earned more than 183 thousand dollars this weekend. That should go higher when it arrives to Canada and the UK next weekend, and about 200 to 300 screens on the 21st.