Much Ado About Nothing — specifically, the Joss Whedon take on the Shakespearean comedy that’s been lighting up the festival circuit for nearly a year — will finally make its way to U.S. theaters on June 7. And while the Avengers director is probably the biggest name associated with the movie (except, well, Shakespeare), its leading lady is Amy Acker.
Acker, who has been winning raves for her turn as the feisty heroine Beatrice, should be familiar to fans of her previous “Whedonverse” work—from her role as Fred on Angel, starting in 2001, to Dollhouse to The Cabin in the Woods—and her current role on Person of Interest, but she may be new to those who come to Much Ado via the Bard rather than Buffy.
If you’re in that latter category, get to know Acker with a few factoids about the actress:
The Texan’s first job after college was in Much Ado About Nothing—but not as Beatrice. Instead, in a Wisconsin production, Acker played the more demure Hero (Jillian Morgese in the new movie). “Usually when people see me they see me as more of the soft-spoken one rather than being the witty, smart-tongued character,” she says. “It was a role that I’ve always wanted to play. That’s why I like acting, because I don’t have to be my normal shy self.” Acker says that her working history with Joss Whedon helped when it came to being cast in the less-obvious, bigger role.
She didn’t know what she was getting into on Much Ado. Whedon had often hosted Sunday-afternoon readings at home—“We would drink wine and eat food and read plays and he would assign people different parts; it was writers and actors and if your cousin was in town they could read,” says Acker—and the actress thought that, when the director asked if she would be interested in participating, and told her that he had gotten her fellow Angel star Alexis Denisof to sign on already, it was the same type of deal. “I wasn’t that nervous because I thought it was an extension of what we’d already done,” she says. “The first day I showed up and there were trucks and catering I was like oh, a real movie! I didn’t know! Luckily I didn’t have time to panic as much as I probably should have.”
Fans only sort of recognize her on the street. “People say, ‘You look like the girl who used to be on that show Angel’—they don’t actually think I’m her,” Acker says, but notes that when she is recognized the Angel connection pays off: “Joss’ fans are so devoted; I feel like even the stuff I’ve done since then, a lot of the people who watch it are fans from Angel.”
When she’s not acting, she’s crafting. Acker’s Twitter bio lists her as a wannabe Martha Stewart, and she does everything from sewing to making jam. But it’s not always fun: one time, Acker agreed to make about 40 vintage-y aprons for a nearby bakery, thinking it wouldn’t take long. “Actually, Kai [Cole], Joss’ wife, after I had made about 20 of them and was about to cry, agreed to help me,” Acker recounts. “They looked like they should only take 30 minutes but when we started making them it took about 2 hours. Oh dear.”