The Seattle International Film Festival kicked off Thursday night with a sold-out gala screening of “Much Ado About Nothing.”
“You know a little movie like this can really adjust an audience’s expectation and remind you that for all the spectacle of those big budget movies – what it really boils down to is story telling and characters and relationships,” says Alexis Denisof. “This movie is packed with that. This is the original romantic comedy.”
Denisof plays the romantic lead in Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing.” The reason he references the big-budget spectacle kind of movie is that his director just happens to also be the director of perhaps the biggest of big-budget spectacle movies ever, “The Avengers,” Joss Whedon.
“He had to squeeze the shot of this movie into a little vacation from a tiny movie called “Avengers.” So when he came to us he said, ‘Look, we’ve got 12 days to shoot it in two weeks – what do you think?'” explains Denisof. “Luckily I didn’t think. I just said ‘yes.'”
You heard that right. Whedon shot the entire movie in a dozen days AND he shot it all at his own home. In Black and White, I might add.
“When you shoot a movie the size of “The Avengers” where you’re painstakingly shooting – if you’re lucky – one minute a day, and it’s all green screen, detail and minutia, and a crew of hundreds and executives involved in every decision – it’s a military operation to get a big budget studio movie onto the screen and I think part of the motivation with him is he just wanted to go back and recapture the freedom of getting together and doing a show,” says Denisof. “That’s the spirit that’s behind this.”
Denisof’s co-star in Much Ado is Amy Acker who also co-starred with him in the popular Joss Whedon TV series “Angel,” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” before that. She says the variety of tones in those shows actually prepared her well for Shakespeare.
“When you’ve got hilarious moments mixed with the status moments ever – all in an hour of television, you can be anywhere. And that’s the way this play is too,” says Acker. “You’ve got these amazing, hysterical moments with Nathan [Fillion] and then you have these terribly sad moments that are happening with Hiro and Claudio. You can see Joss’ admiration for Shakespeare and you can see why it’s a good match.”
Denisof grew up in Seattle, on Capitol Hill, and had family in the audience at last night’s gala. Another cast member, Nathan Fillion, the star of the hit TV series “Castle,” plays the comic role of Dogberry. But unlike Denisof, he admits he has only a limited knowledge of Seattle.
“I passed through Seattle as a child on a car trip from Canada – we were on our way to Disneyland,” Fillion says. “My mother turned around to say to my brother, who was about 4 at the time, and she said, ‘Jeff, we’re going to Seattle.’ And he said, I don’t want to see attle. I want to see Mickey.”
And yes, Jeff was in the audience last night too. He’s finally old enough to want to “See-attle” too.