After nearly two decades of aborted attempts and frustration, Terry Gilliam seems like he will finally bring “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” to life.
The “Brazil” filmmaker and Monty Python member told TheWrap on Thursday that he has financing for the film and plans to shoot after Christmas.
The script has evolved significantly since he first tried to make the movie with Johnny Depp in the late ’90s (see the documentary “Lost in La Mancha” for a very detailed look at that era), and now is a modernized, semi-meta story that winks at his own attempt to make a film based on the famed Spanish novel by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra.
“I keep incorporating my own life into it and shifting it,” Gilliam said. “The basic underlying premise of that the version Johnny was involved in was that he actually was going to be transported back to the 17th century, and now it all takes place now, it’s contemporary. It’s more about how movies can damage people.”
Depp was to play a modern character named Toby Grisoni, with Jean Rochefort as the actual Quixote. Now, he says, it is in a sense about a movie made about Quixote.
“Our main character actually made a Don Quixote movie a lot earlier in his history,” Gilliam revealed, “and the effect it had on many people wasn’t very nice. Some people go mad, some people turn to drink, some people become whores.”
Of course, Gilliam knows that anything — seriously, anything and everything — can go wrong in his quest to make this movie, and is not naive about his latest attempt.
“I’ve done it so many times — or not done it so many times — I’ll believe it when I see it,” he said, laughing. “However, I’m behaving as if it’s all going to happen as planned.”
His faith is buoyed by the fact that his producers are negotiating with the agents for his chosen actors, the names of whom he could not disclose. Either way, after years of trying to make the film a reality — with names like Depp, Rochefort, Robert Duvall, and Ewan McGregor attached at one time or another — he’s perhaps closer than he’s ever been to achieving his goal.
His latest film, the Christoph Waltz-starring “The Zero Theorem,” is available on Demand on August 19th and hits theaters on September 19th.