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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

{the interview} nathan fillion & clark gregg "much ado about nothing"

Recently I met with actors Nathan Fillion ("Firefly," "Castle") and Clark Gregg ("The Avengers," "Iron Man") to talk about their new film "Much Ado About Nothing." Directed by Joss Whedon ("Avengers," "Firefly"), this Shakespeare adaption shot in twelve days at Joss's home and features an outstanding cast including Nathan Fillion stars as Dogberry, the comic constable and Clark Gregg as Leonato, the Governor of Messina.

Fillion and Gregg have an easy rapport as they talk about Joss's infamous Shakespeare brunches, "Firefly," Twitter, their  favorite music and five happy things. 

"Much Ado About Nothing" (PG-13, 107 minutes) releases across the U.S. this month. 

About “Much Ado About Nothing”

Q: 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 Fillion: Right. Don't tell Clark. (laughs)

Clark Gregg: 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 Fillion: It was like a proper brunch. 

Clark Gregg: I knew it!

Nathan Fillion: Mimosas, cheeses, fruits. . .

Clark Gregg: Were there Eggs Benedict? 

Nathan Fillion: YES!

Clark Gregg: Probably not Eggs Beatrice?

Nathan Fillion: No. 

Clark Gregg: That would have been weird. 

Nathan Fillion: Had you been there. . .

Clark Gregg: 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 Moliere brunch with Michael Bay. 

Nathan Fillion: (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. If he does I wasn't invited to that either. 

Q: If Joss decided to do another Shakespeare film adaption, what do you hope it would be and what part would you hope to play?

Clark Gregg: Would there be brunch involved? I would want there to be tater tots. I'll be honest. 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 Fillion: I would like to do "Hamlet" and I would like to play my own double. I would like to play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. 

Clark Gregg:  That's the winner. 

 – © – Image courtesy

Q: The Shakespeare brunches. Is that how this whole movie began?

Nathan Fillion: Joss would say “We should film one of these. I really want to film one of these. “ 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”! 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 Gregg: An opening came up in the cast. 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.”

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. There is 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.

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

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

Nathan Fillion: Let me tell you, for me, the secret to success if 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 Gregg: We had been filming it for one day. (laughs)

Nathan Fillion: 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 Gregg: 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 Fillion: (laughs)

Q: There was booze in just about every scene of this movie.  How much drinking was going on?

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

Clark Gregg: 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 Fillion: Though there was a party scene where Joss invited a bunch of friends to actually be the background in the scene.

Clark Gregg: Those people were hammered.

Nathan Fillion: 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 tired and pushing to go home.

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

Nathan Fillion: (roars laughing) Thanks for coming!

 – © – Image courtesy

About “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”

Q: Clark, how will  "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." TV universe fit into "The Avengers" universe?

Clark Gregg: This will be a short answer because I don't know much. The "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D" pilot takes place after "The Avengers." It's a show about people who don't have superpowers dealing with a world that suddenly has them. Everyone wants them and everyone who do are not very nice. 

Nathan Fillion: (looks over at Clark) Good answer.

About “Firefly”

Q: Will there be more “Firefly”?

Nathan Fillion: If there was going to be more “Firefly” this is probably not the arena where you’d find out. There would probably be some kind of announcement. You heard it here first!

Clark Gregg:  Would you do any if there were?

Nathan Fillion:  I know nine people who would do it. We would love that though. It would be great but everyone’s pretty busy right now, pretty employable and doing their thing. Not the least of which—Joss.

Clark Gregg: Yeah, Joss is a little busy.

About Video Games

Q: Nathan, you're into video games. How different is voicing a video game like "Halo" as opposed to acting in a film?

Clark Gregg: Did you do a voice in "Halo"?

Nathan Fillion: Yeah. The company that does it is Bungie and they are here in Seattle.

Clark Gregg: Did you come up here to work on it?

Nathan Fillion: No, they were kind enough to come to LA for me to do my voice stuff. I was just there. Bungee sold “Halo” off to Microsoft and now they are starting a new game called Destiny and I just went to visit their new offices.

Clark Gregg: I hear Destiny is amazing.

Nathan Fillion: (smiling) Oh yeah, it is! Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Clark Gregg:  Do you have a role in Destiny?

Nathan Fillion:  I don’t but let me put it this way. I know some guys so. . .

Clark Gregg: You might end up with a role.

Nathan Fillion:  I know some guys.

Clark Gregg: Skipper, if you need a Gilligan in Destiny, I’m just saying. . .

Q: Clark, do you game?

Clark Gregg:  I do game. It sounds weird but I do game, yes. I like Call of Duty. . .

Nathan Fillion: I’m there too.

Clark Gregg: That is one I play obsessively. My wife is like “What are doing? Are you going in to play a mission?””

Nathan Fillion: Do you go online to play?

Clark Gregg: I have. You have never seen anyone get killed quicker. I get whacked.

Q: Do you play as Michael Rooker?

Nathan Fillion: When you play online you don’t play as a character.

Nathan Fillion: I do an excellent Michael Rooker. (Nathan was in “Slither” with Rooker.) You pretend like you smoked like ten packs of cigarettes and you went to some concert the night before. (imitating Rooker) “And now you’re Michael Rooker. I love being on “The Walking Dead.””

Q: What’s your perfect gaming night?

Nathan Fillion: I come from work. On my way home from work I have a multitext from everybody that I play with. I say I have one hour and I will be home in 25 minutes. I get home. I make a little snack. Sit down in front of the TV, put on my thing, people start jumping online and we play for about one hour. Then I turn it off. Just press the button boom.  I’m visiting with all my friends chatting and laughing, catching up on what we’re doing.

Clark Gregg: Can they be on your team?

Nathan Fillion: Yes.

Clark Gregg: See that is the part. I go in there by myself and some 15 year-old blows my head off before I even realized I had been materialized in that world.

Nathan Fillion: Dying amongst friends is an easy way to die.

Clark Gregg:  I would like that. I would like to have your back (looks at Nathan).

Nathan Fillion: When you die I’ll go “Nooooooooo!” Yeah, then you turn off the machine. Everyone’s gone, you go to bed and no one drank your beer.  Your perfect gaming night?

Clark Gregg: My perfect gaming night? I am just realizing I have never come close to a perfect gaming night. I kind of saunter in there stressed out thinking I should be going to sleep because I have to wake up early and I think I need to take out some of these frustrations on a horde of faceless synthetic enemies and before I know it I have hit restart  45 times and it’s 2am in the morning and I am blood soaked.

Q: You’re in a house full of girls. You need that Testosterone.

Clark Gregg: That’s true I do.

About Future Projects

Q: What else do we have to look forward to for you both?

Nathan Fillion:  I have another movie coming out this summer.

Clark Gregg:  Do tell.

Nathan Fillion: It’s a little movie by a company called Pixar. If you’ve heard of it. . .

Clark Gregg: Yes, I have.

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

Nathan Fillion:  Awesome. She loves it.

Clark Gregg: 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 ignored was her sexual to-do list.

Nathan Fillion: (laughs)

Clark Gregg:  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.

About The Five Happy Things

Q:  What are 5 things that make you happy? Off the top of your head, quick.

Nathan Fillion: (looks at Clark) We’ll alternate. I’ll go first. Grilled meat.

Clark Gregg:  Really good sushi.

Nathan Fillion: Sunshine.

Clark Gregg: Early Stevie Wonder.

Nathan Fillion: Calm azure blue tropical water where you can see the bottom?

Clark Gregg: Azure? OK, now I have to come up with something with a really good color. Um, I’m going to have to say my daughter’s freckles.

Nathan Fillion: Nice.  Nice. Scuba trips with my brother.

Clark Gregg: Coconut anything.

Nathan Fillion: Christmas with my family in a tropical location so there’s no snow.

Clark Gregg: Christmas with Nathan’s family. (laughs)

Nathan Fillion:  It’s weird that that’s on both of our lists. (laughs)

Clark Gregg:  It would have been weirder if my answer was first. (laughs)

About Twitter

Q: Let’s talk Twitter. Clark, your description says “Actor, writer, lover of the dance.” Would that be your wife’s dance?

Clark Gregg:  There is no dance that I am a bigger lover of than my wife’s dance. (Clark is married to actor Jennifer Grey who starred as Baby in “Dirty Dancing.) Like a lot of things, it’s dangerous for me to be on Twitter. It allows me to pop on every once in a while and not censor myself. That just popped out. I thought “Hunh, I wouldn’t have thought of myself that way but apparently someone inside there does.”

Q: Nathan, your Twitter description says “ It doesn’t cost anything to say something kind.” Where did that come from?

Nathan Fillion: My mom used to say that a lot. Then I wrapped it up with “. . .Even less to shut up all together.”

About Music

Q: What are you listening to lately?

Clark Gregg: Frank Ocean, the first record, the mixed tape record. Maybe it’s called “Novacane.” I’m not sure. 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 Fillion: 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. He sings like an old black man but he kind of a roly poly white guy. I really like him.

Clark Gregg:  I have also been listening to Siddhartha. It’s really interesting. Kind of jazzy rock. Very interesting and complex.

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

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

Nathan and Clark wrap up the interview offering to take a photo. Great guys.

Catch "Much Ado About Nothing" playing now in a theatre near you. 

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