Three Imaginary Girls

Seattle's Indie-Pop Press – Music Reviews, Film Reviews, and Big Fun

{Much Ado About Nothing officially opens in Seattle this Friday, 6/21, and is playing at various theaters around town, including The Harvard Exit}

You guys remember how excited I was when SIFF announced that Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing would be the Opening Night film, right?!?! RIGHT?!?!?!! Okay, well. Imagine how much I was flipping out when I found out I got to actually SIT IN A ROOM with and TALK TO Whedonverse faves Nathan Fillion* (who plays Dogberry) and Clark Gregg (who plays Leonato) about the film.

I gotta say that both of them were the funniest, kindest, and most charming guys ever. And yes, for those wondering, Fillion IS that handsome in person. I'm not sure how I survived, but I credit the ladies with me in the round table interview (Taylor Johnson from The Happy Girl Experiment and Allie Hanley from Geekscape) with helping me stay upright. Some of their questions are intermixed with mine, below.

Taylor Johnson: So, we heard about Joss Whedon's legendary Shakespeare brunches. How does that work? You get a call "Let's have some French Toast, let's read a little Shakespeare. . ."

Nathan Fillion: It's an email that says "We're doing it again. Who can make it?" and then everybody starts replying all and you get to read everyone's smart comments. From that we get a cast list and this is the play we are doing, this is the version we are doing. These two characters are going to be one character, this one character is going to be a girl instead of a guy. Brunch starts at 11…"

Clark Gregg: Don't tell Clark. 

Nathan: Right. Don't tell Clark. (laughs)

Clark: I hadn't met any of them yet. I was never at a Shakespeare brunch. It sounds so damn fun. It kills me every time I heard about them. What was served?

Nathan: It was like a proper brunch.

Clark: I knew it!

Nathan: Mimosas, croissants, cheeses, fruits…

Clark: Were there Eggs Benedict? 

Nathan: YES!

Clark: Probably not Eggs Beatrice?

Nathan: No. 

Clark: That would have been weird.

Nathan: Had you been there…

Clark: IF I would have been invited. You always get right to my bitter side when you talk about the Shakespeare brunches. I went to a Molière brunch with Michael Bay. 

Nathan: (laughs)

Clark Gregg: I didn't. (sighs) I wasn't invited to that either. Paul Thomas Anderson does a Chekov lunch. No, he doesn't. And If he does I wasn't invited to that either. Ok, I'll let this go.

Nathan: Will you? Will you really? 

TIG: I was wondering if Joss decided to do another Shakespeare adaptation, which play would you want it be? And what parts would you want to play?

Clark: Would there be brunch involved? Any meal whatsoever? I would want there to be tater tots. I'm gonna be honest here. I would like to see the envelope pushed. I would like to do "The Taming of the Shrew." I would like to be Kate. I know who I would like to be Petruchio. (looks at Nathan) My man! (laughs) It would be kind of a thing about marriage equality. 

Nathan: I would love it be "Hamlet" and I would like to play my own double. I would like to play both Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. 

TIG: I would pay to see that!!! Absolutely.

Clark:  That's the winner. 

TIG: So are the Shakespeare brunches how this whole film began? And if so, Clark, since you weren't invited — how did you get on board?

Clark: I was a banquet waiter, and so I stood there and … no, I'm just kidding. I couldn't even get in that way!

Nathan: Joss would say “We should film one of these. I really want to film one of these one time. “ And then he was taken away on a project. I’m trying to remember the name. It’s about getting revenge, it starts with an A. “The Avengers”!

Clark: I have bad memories about that one.

Nathan: That’s the one! He had two weeks vacation, enough time to film a twelve day thing at his house and he had met some nice talented actors while doing “The Avengers.”

Clark: They weren't free. (laughing) But an opening came up in the cast and I was free, and two days later there I was, trying to remember the lines. I thought "This is crazy. You can’t shoot a Shakespeare film in black & white with a couple digital cameras in twelve days in your house. I hope no one sees this or else it will be on YouTube maybe." Then I started to see what was going on and I thought “They know what they’re doing. These people really know what they are doing.

And it became something really kind of magical and fun and I am really excited an happy that it is getting attention and getting seen by people. It is really amazing, I have to say, what Joss is able to pull off. It doesn’t look like it was done in twelve days. It looks like a lot of money was spent and done in the normal amount of time. Because there's a lot of nuance and he has brought a whole take to the story and people come in and do a turn as if they have done Shakespearean comedy their whole lives.

Nathan: You're very kind.

Taylor: You two are so good together. Did you just automatically fall into this easy banter?

Clark: This is why I want him to be my Petruchio. (laughs)

Nathan: Let me tell you, for me, the secret to success is riding on other people’s coattails. Much like my experience with “Much Ado About Nothing.” These guys had already been filming it. I swept in on a weekend.

Clark: We'd been filming it for one day!

Nathan: There you go. I came in going “What’s going on here?” and I got swept up in this tide of talent thinking “I don’t know what I am doing. Please God, let me get my lines out and not forget anything.” It was the scene in the front yard…

Clark: This is the kind of sentence you often hear from the guy who then puts the movie in his backpack and then walks away with it.

Nathan: (laughs)

Allie Hanley: There was booze in almost every shot of this movie.  How much drinking was going on in real life?

Nathan: I didn’t attend the party at the end.

Clark: He was working a lot. This guy heroically worked a long week on his hugely successful television show ["Castle"] and then would show up on the weekend and do Shakespeare. There were parties that went on after wrap. Shakespeare is a little too hard. No one was really dipping into the supplies. They call it the martini shot for a reason.

Nathan: But there was a party scene where Joss invited a bunch of friends to actually be the background in the scene.

Clark: And those people were hammered.

Nathan: Those people got ripped. Not knowing that this party is going to go until all hours so while our cast was hard working they were in the back, tired, and pushing to go home.

Clark: Oh, they were loaded. By the time we stopped I saw a guy throwing up in iambic pentameter.

Nathan: (roars laughing)

Clark: Heyyy! Thanks for coming!

Taylor: What else do we have to look forward to from you both?

Nathan: I have another movie coming out this summer.

Clark: Do tell.

Nathan: It’s a little movie by a company called Pixar. If you’ve heard of it… They’re doing a prequel to “Monsters Inc.” called “Monsters University”  and it winds up being an 80's frat movie with the cool frat versus the nerd frat and I am the president of the cool frat. I’m a jerk.

Clark: You’re a jerk?! How’s your mom feel about that with the nice boy that she raised?

Nathan: Awesome. She loves it.

Clark: I’m coming out with this film “Much Ado. . .” and a film called “The To Do List” with Aubrey Plaza and Andy Samberg and Bill Hader, written and directed by Bill’s wife Maggie Carey who is a really funny writer/director. It’s a very funny raunchy summer coming of age movie from the point view of a woman, a very high achieving high school Valedictorian who realizes that the one part of her education that she neglected was her sexual to-do list. It was originally called “The Hand Job” but for SOME reason they changed the title. I did another movie called “Labor Day” for Jason Reitman with Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin. I think that’s coming out late in the fall.

TIG: Can you guys tell me what you've been listening to lately?

Clark: Frank Ocean, the first record, the mixed tape record. Maybe it’s called “Novacane.” I’m not sure. [ed. note, it's called "nostaglia, ULTRA"] It’s CRUSHING me right now. It’s one of the most brilliant things I’ve ever heard. That and Atoms for Peace, the Thom Yorke collaboration with Flea, my favorite bassist.

Nathan: If I could recommend anything to you it would be…it’s an old album. I saw this performed in concert a number of times and it was just magical, at the Troubador. His name is Martin Sexton and the album would be “Black Sheep” which is the best song on the album. I really like him.

Clark:  I've also been listening to Syd Arthur. It’s really interesting. Kind of jazzy rock. Very interesting and complex.

Taylor: Is there a song that never fails to put you in a good mood?

Nathan: “Run, Run Away." I can’t remember who sings it. It's an 80's tune” (Nathan starts singing it and looks it up on his mobile device.) Slade sings it, an English rock band.

*Bonus: Nathan did say that IF there was a chance to resurrect Firefly, there are nine people who would LOVE to do it. It's really just a matter of pinning down the one person they need for the project, and that guy probably isn't going to free anytime soon. You know, for you people who care about that kind of thing. (ME ME ME ME ME ME ME. I CARE.)