Fran Kranz was nervous about taking on Shakespeare for Joss Whedon.

The Buffy creator’s charming film adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing has received tons of praise, including for Kranz’s performance as Claudio, but at the time when the 12-day, secret production of the film was about to start, Kranz was nervous.

“I maybe had lost a little of confidence with the language,” said Kranz, who had performed in several Shakespeare productions in high school and at Yale University but not yet professionally.

It was Whedon and the intimate way he shot the film — in his own house, a familiar place to his friends and frequent collaborators — that Kranz says calmed his nerves and reinstilled in him confidence with the Bard’s words. Whedon filmed his take on the comedy at his Santa Monica, CA home after having hosted evenings of Shakespeare readings with his friends there for several years. 

Much Ado was a micro-budget production that Whedon launched at the time he was supposed to be taking a vacation in between principle photography and post-production for The Avengers in 2011. The director asked his actors to bring their own clothes for their costumes. For Claudio’s wedding day, Kranz wore his own gray suit.

Kranz wore that same suit when he took on Shakespeare again for HitFix’s Shakespeare 400 video series.

Fran Kranz and Sean Maher in Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing. Image credit: Bellwether Pictures

The Dollhouse actor told us that he credits Shakespeare for “how I fell in love with acting…. Shakespeare has always been my first love and favorite and biggest challenge and most fulfilling project as an actor.”

Playing Shylock as a high school student was one of his first meaningful encounters with Shakespeare. Kranz then appeared in Antony and Cleopatra, Henry IV Part 1, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream in college. He delved into Midsummer again for a recently announced film adaptation that was filmed this past December. He’s in the great comedic role of Bottom for that film, which is directed by his Yale buddy Casey Wilder Mott.

For HitFix’s Shakespeare project, Kranz returned to another play he performed in college, King Lear. It’s one of the Bard’s greatest tragedies, with a body count that competes with the likes of Hamlet, with a lot of bleak observations about aging and the breaking bonds of family and the insignificance of individual people among humankind. But Kranz delivered us a piece of Lear that he could have some fun with: a string of insults. The ability to diss like no other is an ever-entertaining part of Shakespeare’s lasting legacy, and Kranz clearly took delight in spitting some insults from Lear.

Kranz read us the Earl of Kent’s insults directed at Goneril’s steward Oswald, calling him everything from “lily-livered” (cowardly) to “glass-gazing” (fond of admiring himself in a mirror) to “three-suited” (servants were given three suits per year — Kent actually disses Oswald’s lower class status here a lot).

Watch the video with Kranz’s Shakespearean insults below:

Also of note: Kranz shared his love for King Lear on Twitter earlier this month, quoting a line from the play:

Anyone hoping that this tweet was actually also a hint that Kranz would be in the film adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower — you were right to hope. News that Kranz had joined the film’s cast broke last week.

For more of HitFix’s celebration of 400 years of Shakespeare (this Saturday marked 400 years since the Bard’s death), check out the video below and watch more readings videos here.

An enthusiast of time travel stories, film scores, avocados and Charades, Emily Rome is an alumna of Loyola Marymount University and a native of beautiful Washington State. Emily’s writing has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Entertainment Weekly and The Hollywood Reporter. Follow her on Twitter @EmilyNRome.