What was the funniest bts experience while filming #muchado @totalfilm #AskAlexis June 13, 2013
“Well, it was a lot of fun to make this movie, for so many reasons but in the main because we are actually all good friends and if we’re not, we at least do know each other and have worked together, so there was a great rapport among the cast and crew and Joss [ Whedon ].
"And, you know if Joss is putting a team together, you know you’re gonna like everybody, because he’s that guy that attracts really cool people around him. So we were having a really good time, but it was extremely busy, hard work because we had 12 days to make the movie. So honestly, the fun we were having is on screen, the enjoyment of it is very much captured in the movie. I think one of the things people are enjoying about it that we look like we’re having so much fun, and that’s because we are!
"But in my case there was so much to do - there’s a lot of lines, there’s a lot of scenes – so if I wasn’t in a scene I was usually preparing for the next scene, or rehearsing with Joss or with Amy [ Acker, who plays Beatrice ] or running to do a costume change or into make-up or whatever. So in my case, there wasn’t a whole lot of goofing off, other than the goofing off I’m doing in the context of the story, which is a tremendous amount of goofing off as you can see by how many times I fall over and roll around.
"But there were some people that were able to really have fun off-screen, like Brian [ McElhaney ] and Nick [ Kocher ] who are the online sketch comedians called BriTANick, they’re just so funny, and whenever I’d walk past whatever group they were hanging out in, everybody was just laughing, and they were working out jokes and sketches and stuff. So it was a lot of fun.”
Total Film: How did it compare to the readings you’d done at Joss’s house purely for fun?
“Yeah, we’d been getting together casually to read Shakespeare’s plays for quite a few years now, just for fun. It was something that Joss sparked off around, say, season three of Buffy . He identified that there were some Shakespeare lovers amongst his cast, and in his writers’ office, and also just friends and family who wanted to participate.
"They were just very relaxed - the play was the star of the afternoon. We’d just have a little bit of food or a glass of wine and have a laugh with the play. And I guess this particular one had stuck with him and he had felt for many years that if he were to shoot one of the plays, that it would be this one. So I think a lot of the spirit of those readings is in this movie too.
"We took a pretty relaxed approach to it, a pretty natural feel. I mean, it has a strong style - it’s black and white, and, y’know, it is Shakespeare - but we took that feel of those readings and brought it to the making of this movie.”
@totalfilm Loved Alexis as Wesley on Angel. Thought he was fantastic. What was it like to work alongside Amy Acker again? #AskAlexis June 13, 2013
“Fantastic. I absolutely adore working with Amy. In fact, Amy, Joss and I, is my favourite combination for work. There’s just something really special that happens with the three of us. And I don’t really know why, but I know I love it. We have complete trust in one another, and we can have fun and be imaginative and creative and not feel that we could ever do something wrong. It just flows with us. It’s a very cool thing when you can find that with your work.”
TF: So was that kind of an instant rapport with those guys?
“I don’t know that it was instant, it think it was created over the years of working together. It was instant in the sense of, ‘This is a cool person, I like her, I like him, we get along.’ But I think what the characters of Wes and Fred went through over those years is part of what bonded us because it was pretty intense: I think we both died in each other’s arms. So that kinda brings you closer together.
"And we began to have a friendship that went beyond work. We would hang out, and get to know each other’s families. And they came to my wedding and I went to theirs, and our kids know each other. So for us, Angel finished, but my friendship with Amy didn’t. And then this movie came along and we shot this movie and had a great time and it was way after that that we realised, ‘Hey, this is cool. Wes and Fred get a happy ending at last!’ But it honestly didn’t occur to us at the time.”
@totalfilm #AskAlexis What were the challenges/benefits of tackling Shakespeare on film as opposed to a staged production? June 13, 2013
“Actually, in this case, there was a feeling of a little bit of both, or maybe I’d say the advantages of both. We had learned the scenes in their entirety, and were able to do them from beginning to end because Joss was shooting long takes of the whole scene, and he was very selective about close-ups, so it wasn’t broken up as much as it would be normally, if you were shooting a film in the normal amount of time, rather than the 12 days we had. The shot selection allowed for a much more live feeling.
"We got together and rehearsed a little, either Amy on our own, or, when he could, Joss would also join us. You don’t always get that much rehearsal when you’re making TV or film, you work it out right then or right before. But in this case we had a couple of weeks before filming started. Because there’s so much to do and so much dialogue, and that relationship goes through so much, we were meeting up and talking about the scenes and working on it together, so all of that felt a little like theatre.
"It also had that theatre thing of everybody pulling together and making it happen as a group, cos there really was more love than money behind this project, and we were all there because we wanted to do it, not because we were making any money out of it. It was just a passion project.
"So that also gave it a little bit of a theatre feel, but on the other hand with the advantage of the cameras. So they could go in and pick up nuances of reaction or expression, or we could relax with the language for example because there was a camera and a mic, we didn’t have to present poetry to the audience, we could just live in the skin of these characters and feel natural with the words, and let the audience come to us in a way that the camera allows.”
“Oh yeah, it was clear to me when I started working with him, right from the get-go, what a phenomenal talent he was and is. He’s a super-smart guy and he knows what he wants and he knows how to get it, and he’s got an incredible imagination and an encyclopedic catalogue of films and plays and books that he’s read.
"He has a unique voice as a writer: he’s got a point of view and he has something to say. So, it’s always, if you can get in a room with somebody like that and work with them and learn from them, do. And now I’ve had the opportunity to grow with him. It’s been an incredible journey.”
@totalfilm #AskAlexis Alexis, how long did it take you go get into the prosthetics for Avengers? Did they use your voice or enhanced? June 13, 2013
“That was my voice. I had worked out a voice for that character, because there was not that much else I could do. There was so much prosthetic hardware to be applied; not just my face but across my body, and the costume was also extremely complicated and, honestly, all that stuff is kind of restrictive.
"So I did want to find a voice that would convey a lot about who this character was, and I wanted to capture this peculiar character in the voice. And then it was, I think, augmented, so I did it on the day.
"Another one of the challenges was prosthetic teeth, so I asked for those ahead of time so that I could practice with them, because when I first put them in, and I knew that they would probably give me a strange voice, and they did! I had a really strong lisp with the teeth, because I couldn’t make the right sounds. So I practiced with them for a couple of months, and got to where I could speak how I wanted to with the teeth in. We shot it on the day, and then of course there were so many problems with the wardrobe making noise, so I had to go back and do it on a soundstage, and I didn’t need the teeth [ laughs ]. So I could have spared myself, but you never know, you’ve got to be ready for anything so I don’t really regret it.
"But as to how long it took, I think I would get in the make-up chair around 4am, and then be ready by 7.30 or 8am. It was a lot of stuff to put on. And they were also figuring some things out as we went because it was still in progress as a concept.”
“I wish I knew the answer, and if I did I wish I could tell you, but the fact is it’s an, ‘I don’t know’ to both. And that’s the truth; I’m not hiding something, I just don’t know.”
TF: Is it weird being in such a big film like that and being hidden away under all the prosthetics?
“Yeah, it’s a strange sensation, I haven’t done that kind of thing so it was strange, the things that you take for granted, like: you can move your face! And I couldn’t move my face. That you could use your fingers! I couldn’t really move my hands all that well. I had an extra thumb and prosthetic hands and I didn’t want to buckle the rubber or tear anything, there were just certain limitations to it.
"I mean, not wishing to be graphic, it was tricky going to the bathroom. It was such process, getting me anywhere was so complicated, that I stopped drinking fluids fairly early in the morning so I could go until the lunch break, and that was my opportunity to take as much of the stuff off as I could in order to take care of all my personal stuff and eat, and then try to get through the rest of the day.
"But I do remember at one point it started to get really hot in there, and I was getting a little bit woozy, and Tom [ Hiddleston ] was so fantastic, he was just really concerned about me, and he had so much to do and there he was worrying about me. He’s such a sweet guy. But yeah, we had to kind of lie me down and cool me off once or twice because I was getting a little bit faint in there from time to time.”
@totalfilm Whose idea was it to kill of Wesley in the last episode of Angel and how was it to go from being a bit part to a major character June 13, 2013
“Well, it was Joss’s idea to terminate the life of Wesley, which was tough to take. But on the other hand, in a weird way it was also a compliment, because he did it because it would hurt, y’know? Knowing that it would be emotional for the characters and for the story. And he’s very brave in that regard. And you have to be. I mean, that’s part of why his shows are so compelling, because he’s willing to make hard choices.
"So I always feel like in a strange way it is a compliment when Joss kills you off. But that character was an extraordinary journey. I had no idea at the time of auditioning for it that it would go for that long and in that way, it was just amazing really. I feel like it’s almost like getting to play three of four different parts, because he went through such a lot over the course of the show, you don’t get many chances to do that, honestly.
"Most programming is very much plot-based and the characters are almost required to remain unchanged because they want to work out the plot and have people interested in that and just know who the characters are and not have them change too much, but again Joss is a groundbreaker, and the stories were compelling and they had something to say, but he also let the stories affect the characters deeply and let the characters grow and change. And I look back on that and feel so fortunate that I got to go on that journey with Wesley.”
TF: So, how far in advance does Joss normally give you an idea of when something big is going to happen?
“He gives you a little bit of a warning. I mean, it depends where you are, it was different in each case, I know towards the end of season three of Buffy , Wesley had been around for six or seven episodes and they knew what they were doing wrapping up that season but they hadn’t exactly decided about my character.
"So I remember him telling me on set one day that there was a debate in the writers’ room, and about half the room wanted to kill Wesley off, and the other half wanted to keep him alive and he asked me if I had any feelings about it, and I said, “Well, I’m partial to him staying alive,” and he said, “Well that’s good, so am I.” So I knew that, by the end of season three, that he was alive.
"But as far as jumping forward to the end of Angel , he let Amy and I know what he had in mind before we got to that day, because he knew that was something that we needed to process a little, not just jump in and, “Surprise! Today’s the day that you get killed! See you later!”
@totalfilm #AskAlexis Will we see more Sandy Rivers in HIMYM? He's tied with Wesley as my fav character you've done! You're so funny as him! June 13, 2013
“I hope so! It’s the final season coming up, and they’ve got a great, great season planned. I hope that Sandy Rivers gets a chance to misbehave one more time before the show wraps up, but I don’t know specifically. Again, that’s been such a fun character and kind of a surprise. I’ve really enjoyed him.
"I feel like he should have his own show, that’s what I think. He just makes me laugh, and I can see him, just week in and week out, being such a hilarious and naughty man that we just watch make a fool of himself in the midst of his news world, that I think it’d be a great show.”
TF: And do you find that you gravitate to working with close friends and family?
“I seem to have had a good amount of that. It isn’t intentional but it has happened and it’s a blessing. To get to do the thing you like to do with your friends is like a double bonus. It’s hard enough just to get work in this industry, but if you do get work and then you get to do it with people that you like that’s even better. So I’ve been lucky and have had my fair share of friendships because of work, and work because of friendships.”