[Update: It’s really happening. Check the bottom of the post for more information.]
Joss Whedon’s been saying for a while that he wants to return to making art on the internet. Could the movie poster that several members of the Whedonverse tweeted tonight be his Shakespearean follow-up to Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog?
All weekend Shawna Trpcic—costume designer for Firefly, Dollhouse, and Angel—has been hinting at a surprise she would unveil on Sunday night. A little before midnight tonight, she tweeted the link to a website called Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing, and a peculiar poster featuring a lot of famous names. If you’re taking this at face value, it would appear that Joss Whedon found the time to take on Shakespeare.
Trpcic is currently answering questions on her Twitter; she says that she was indeed the costume designer for this unexpected project. When asked if the format would be a full-length film, short, or webseries, she answered, Film ish not sure in what format he will release it.
The movie boasts an impressive cast: Half Whedon alums like Nathan Fillion (Firefly), Fran Kranz (Dollhouse), and Clark Gregg (The Avengers); and half people that Whedon has never worked with, like Spencer Treat Clark and Jillian Morgese. So in many ways, this resembles the underground quality of Dr. Horrible.
However, there are reasons why this could be an elaborate joke. For one, Bellwether doesn’t seem to be a real production company. Not to mention that the latest big announcement concerning Whedon and a web series involved Warren Ellis and their apocalyptic series Wastelanders. You have to wonder how Whedon would have the time to add yet another project to his plate.
But there’s no reason for Trpcic to be so forthcoming with answers if this were fake. So let’s play along and look forward to more news about this bizarre twist on Shakespeare. From the way their names are listed on the poster, it seems that former Angel lovers Alexis Denisoff and Amy Acker could be paired up again as Benedick and Beatrice.
After all, the play sounds like the most fitting for Whedon’s famous witticisms, what with the fast-talking characters who scorn traditional notions about love.
Update! We have to retire our skepticism: This is a real movie that’s happening. Whereas last night he just tweeted the link to the site, Nathan Fillion followed it up by tweeting, Oh, it’s real. Very. Very. Real. Then this morning, Trent at Pink Is The New Blog announced that he got to work as an extra on the film—which was shot at Whedon’s house.
Trent got the gig because he’s friends with two of the movie’s unknown actors (Emma Bates and Joshua Zar), and he provided some insight into the casting. We were right that Amy Acker and Alexis Denisoff with play Beatrice and Benedict; Nathan Fillion is Dogberry, “an idiot with a too-large sense of self-importance” (according to Wikipedia); and Clark Gregg plays the governor Leonato.
Update #2! The official site now links to a press release, which mostly reiterates what we’ve already figured out. Whedon must have dictated it, if not written the thing himself, because its tone is very tongue-in-cheek; there are jokes—as there were with Dr. Horrible—about the cast doing this out of the goodness of their hearts and not the size of their paychecks.
Whedon also released an official quote: “The text is to me a deconstruction of the idea of love, which is ironic, since the entire production is a love letter—to the text, to the cast, even to the house it’s shot in.”
Natalie Zutter is a playwright, foodie, and the co-creator of Leftovers, a webcomic about food trucks in the zombie apocalypse. She’s currently the Associate Editor at Crushable, where she discusses movies, celebrity culture, and internet memes. You can find her on Twitter @nataliezutter.