SMU Alumna Makes ‘Merry War’ In Joss Whedon Film

Meadows alumna Amy Acker plays Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, now showing in theaters. Photo by Elsa Guillet-Chapuis/Much Ado About Nothing.

Meadows alumna Amy Acker plays Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, now showing in theaters. Photo by Elsa Guillet-Chapuis/Much Ado About Nothing

SMU alumna Amy Acker ’99 plays the tart-tongued Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, a recent film directed by Joss Whedon that opened in theaters in June and will be released on DVD in October.

The new adaptation of Shakespeare’s comedy is the latest collaboration between the actress, who earned a B.F.A. in theatre from SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, and cult hero Whedon, whose credits include The Avengers (2012), a blockbuster he wrote and directed. Acker appeared in his Angel (1999-2004) and Dollhouse (2009-10) television shows, as well as the horror movie The Cabin in the Woods (2012), which he co-wrote and produced.

In Much Ado About Nothing, Acker joins a host of other Whedon alumni in bringing a contemporary perspective to the “merry war” of Shakespeare’s battling lovers, Beatrice and Benedick (played by Alexis Denisof). Filmed in black and white over 12 days at Whedon’s California home, the movie had its U.S. premiere at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin in March and opened in theaters nationwide on June 21.

Movie critic Chis Vognar interviewed Acker for The Dallas Morning News at the festival, where she offered this comment about her experience in the SMU theatre program:

“It prepared me for so much, just getting that education and getting to play all those roles. They were training us to apply for Yale graduate school, so just the work ethic and the teachers there were so incredible. But I do think they need a class on how to act with monsters or vampires. That’s the only thing I’ve had to do a lot of that they didn’t teach there.”

>Read the interview

Among critics praising Much Ado About Nothing is Sheila O’Malley. In a four-star review published on rogerebert.com, she writes: “Watching Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof battle it out, in words and in a near wrestling match near the end of the film, is a supreme pleasure. … Much Ado About Nothing is one of the best films of the year.” [Meadows School of the Arts alumnus Matt Zoller Seitz now serves as editor-in-chief of the movie website founded by the late Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic Roger Ebert.]

>Read O’Malley’s review

Writing in The New York Times, critic A. O. Scott calls the film “perhaps the liveliest and most purely delightful movie I have seen so far this year.”

>Read Scott’s review

Acker is currently roiling the plot as a series regular on CBS’s Person of Interest. Her character, Root, a computer hacker extraordinaire with deadly talents, is locked in a battle of wills with Samantha Shaw, played by fellow SMU alumna Sarah Shahi.

>Read more about “Root”

Acker’s other recent acting credits include recurring roles on the TV series Warehouse 13 and CSI. She also has appeared in recent episodes of Once Upon A Time and Grimm. She was recently profiled by USA Today.

 

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