When director Joss Whedon (The Avengers) needed a sexy villain to play Don John in his contemporary, black-and-white film adaptation of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, he turned to Sean Maher. "I asked him if this meant he thought I was sexy," Maher says, who has been absent from television for the past two years to focus on raising two adopted children with his partner. "Joss told me to stop fishing for compliments, but I was thrilled because no one had ever offered me a deliciously villainous role before."
Not only is the character Maher's inaugural bad guy, it's the first time the actor -- who's been part of the Whedon-verse since he starred in Firefly -- has performed the Bard's work, a centuries-old comedy in iambic pentameter.
Luckily, the stress was alleviated by the homey working conditions--the film was shot in 12 days at Whedon's Southern California home. "The party scene, with women swinging from trees, was wild. But I looked around and realized everyone was a friend," Maher says.
The most shocking scene may be Maher's sexual romp with actress Riki Lindhome, who plays Conrade, traditionally a male role. "I thought it was a genius choice to make," Maher says. And of the explicit moment where his hands are between her thighs, he admits: "It was one of my favorite scenes to shoot."