With such films as “Time Bandits,” ‘Brazil,” “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen,” “The Fisher King,” “Twelve Monkeys” and “The Brothers Grimm,” Terry Gilliam has created a body of work that has earned the director a reputation as both an inspired visionary and a maverick. On and off-screen. Remember the legendary battle with Universal head Sidney Sheinberg over the distribution of “Brazil’? The collapse — mid-production — of “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote?
The American expatriate (he’s lived in London since the ‘60s) is up this weekend with “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus,” a fantastical morality tale starring Heath Ledger, who died during filming. (Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law stepped in to help finish the production.) It features a magic mirror that, once passed through, reveals magical worlds.
Gilliam, whose love of animation dates back to the ‘60s and his Monty Python work, makes liberal use of extended animated sequences throughout these scenes.
He wasn’t a neurotic James Dean or any of those things. Occasionally the gods send us down someone extraordinary, and we get to see them briefly, and then the gods pull them away. That’s how I feel about Heath.
(Laughs) Things go wrong in movies, but look — on the one hand, Heath dies, which is tragic — but then you get Johnny, Colin and Jude coming to the rescue. So if it’s a curse, there’s also a silver lining.
It’s totally undeserved, because until “Munchausen” I was known as this filmmaker who could make incredibly expensive-looking films for nothing. “Brazil” came in $1 million under budget and it only cost $13 to $14 million. “Time Bandits” cost less than $5 million and ended up grossing over $80 million.
It’s true! Everything was going crazy, as we had a huge insurance claim that was being argued while we literally ran out of cash. Luckily I got hit by a car and broke my back, so I got free travel for a while, and took the bus!
Yes, when it gets as good as film — but not till then.
No, but it will be in 10 years, maybe five. It’s on life support. But right now, film’s still the best medium for capturing images, and the range of contrast is the greatest and you just get more information in there.
Not really. Ultimately it’s my fall-back position.
The truth is, so many of the big films today have some kind of animation — from “Harry Potter” to the big comic-book films like “Transformers” and “Iron Man.” My theory was, use animation because it’s cheaper and it’d give me more freedom.
“The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.” We’re resurrecting the old bastard! My plan is to start in spring, and we’ll see if it’s just a dream or reality. Jeremy Thomas is producing and we’ll go back to Spain and the same locations, as I’ve learned what not to do there. (Laughs.)