Gilliam's 'Imaginarium': Surreal And All-Too-Real

Terry Gilliam i i

Terry Gilliam's struggle to film Don Quixote was chronicled in the documentary Lost In La Mancha. After 8 years, Gilliam has restarted production on his adaptation this year. Kevin Winter/Getty hide caption

itoggle caption Kevin Winter/Getty
Terry Gilliam

Terry Gilliam's struggle to film Don Quixote was chronicled in the documentary Lost In La Mancha. After 8 years, Gilliam has restarted production on his adaptation this year.

Kevin Winter/Getty

Terry Gilliam has long been in the business of bringing the fantastical to life. In his early days with the Monty Python comedy troupe, Gilliam stretched his creative muscles beyond acting and into directing, where he developed a love of filmmaking that he would never shake.

His newest film is The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Co-written with Christopher McKeown, Imaginarium is an eccentric ride into Gilliam's mind via an acting troupe contracted with the devil.

The film also contains the final performance of the late actor Heath Ledger, who died during filming. The tragedy drew Gilliam's roles as Ledger's director and friend into sharp conflict. "I was just destroyed," Gilliam tells host Terry Gross. "And I said, 'How do you finish a film when halfway through the star dies?' It really was this feeling, 'How could we let Heath's last performance just vanish?'"

Gilliam finished the film by drafting other actors to film Ledger's remaining scenes. Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, and Jude Law play Ledger's character in a series of dream sequences.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is Gilliam's 14th full-length film, and not his only film with a bumpy production process. He is also the director of the Time Bandits, Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, and the Oscar-nominated Brazil.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.