Terry Gilliam is tilting at windmills no more. Last week, the director wrapped production on “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote,” a fantasy-adventure that the writer-director memorably had to scuttle mid-shoot back in 2000.
The ironically quixotic project — which then starred Johnny Depp, Jean Rochefort and Vanessa Paradis — fell apart and became the subject of a 2002 documentary, “Lost in La Mancha.” That film chronicled how flooding in Navarre destroyed the sets, Rochefort fell ill and left the project mid-shoot, producers struggled to secure insurance and financing to keep the project afloat.
But producers announced Monday that Gilliam had completed principal photography on the film, which he first conceived back in 1989 as a modern take on the classic Miguel de Cervantes novel. Gilliam wrote script with Tony Grisoni.
The film now stars Adam Driver as a 21st-century marketing executive named Toby who toggles between modern times and 17th-century Spain, where Don Quixote (Jonathan Pryce) mistakes him for his trusted squire, Sancho Panza.
Like Quixote, Toby becomes consumed by the illusory world and unable to distinguish his dreams from reality. The tale culminates in a phantasmagorical finale where Toby takes on the mantle of Don Quixote de la Mancha.
The film also stars Stellan Skarsgard, Olga Kurylenko, Joana Ribeiro, Jordi Molla, Sergi Lopez and Rossy de Palma.
Gerardo Herrero, Mariela Besuievsky, Amy Gilliam, Tornasol Films, Kinology, Recorded Picture Company, Entre Chien et Loup and Ukbar Filmes in association with Alacran Pictures, produced with the participation of TVE, Movistar +, Eurimages and Wallimage.
Amazon Studios has acquired distribution rights for the U.S., Canada and the U.K.
In addition to the disastrous 2000 shoot, Gilliam made attempts in 2005 and 2015 to relaunch production — with actors like John Hurt and Robert Duvall circling the Quixote part and Ewan McGregor and Jack O’Connell as Toby. But they too fell apart over various issues, mostly financing.
“Don Quixote is a dreamer, an idealist, and a romantic, determined not to accept the limitations of reality, marching on regardless of setbacks, as we have done,” Gilliam said. “We’ve been at it so long that the idea of actually finishing shooting this ‘clandestine’ film, is pretty surreal. Any sensible person would have given up years ago but sometimes pig-headed dreamers win in the end, so thank you to all of the ill paid fantasists and believers who have joined to make this longstanding dream a reality!”