Director Joss Whedon revealed tonight how his new film adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing started out as a dinner party game with friends.
The creator of hit TV shows Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel, attended a special gala screening at the Apollo Piccadilly in London, joined by stars Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof, who play bickering lovebirds Beatrice and Benedick.
Other celebrity guests and friends of Whedon included Buffy star Anthony Head and Avengers Assemble star Tom Hiddleston.
Whedon revealed: "We used to read Shakespeare at weekends when we were producing shows together, writers and actors.
"And once Amy and Alexis had read Beatrice and Benedick my wife and I said: 'That's the one we'd really love to shoot.' And it only took me 10 years!"
The Avenger's Assemble director shot his big-screen adaptation of Shakespeare's comedy in just 12 days, using the original text but in a modern setting.
He said: "It really is the classic romantic comedy and it's a story that not only is still being told all the time, but this is the best version of it."
Acker, who worked with Whedon on vampire drama Angel, said that playing Beatrice was her dream role, as the character was an independent woman - even in a modern interpretation of Shakespeare's drama.
Acker added: "They had started doing the readings way before I met Joss. But as soon as I started on Angel I met a lot of these people for the first time at the Shakespeare readings in Joss's house.
"He would have us in his back yard, which was gorgeous, drinking wine, and it was just a dorky idea of a fun afternoon."
Denisof, who previously worked with Whedon on Buffy and Angel, quipped: "He's either a Shakespeare for our time or Shakespeare was the Joss Whedon of his."
Hiddleston confessed he had not yet been to Whedon's Shakespeare readings, but revealed he would like to appear in a version of A Midsummer Night's Dream directed by him.
Much Ado About Nothing opens in cinemas on 14 June.