Director revives passion project

Terry Gilliam is getting lost in La Mancha all over again.

The director is reviving his passion project “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” nearly a decade after his first attempt was derailed.

Gilliam’s first stab at adapting Miguel de Cervantes’ classic 17th century romantic tale was blighted by everything from freakish bad weather, which destroyed the sets, to lead actor Jean Rochefort’s chronic back problems.

That experience was memorably captured in Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe’s 2002 doc “Lost in La Mancha.”

Now Gilliam is teaming up with Brit producer Jeremy Thomas to bring his long-cherished project to the bigscreen. Thomas’ Recorded Picture Co. will produce after successfully obtaining the rights following lengthy negotiations.

Hanway Films will handle international sales.

Gilliam and screenwriter Tony Grisoni, who also wrote the first version, have rewritten and updated the script. The new film will revolve around a filmmaker who is charmed into joining Don Quixote’s eternal quest for his ladylove, becoming an unwitting Sancho Panza.

“I’m not so much a filmmaker as someone who gets possessed by an idea and it doesn’t leave me until I make the film,” Gilliam told Variety. “I commit myself to it so fully.”

Gilliam is also in talks with Johnny Depp, who had been set to star in the first ill-fated attempt as a modern-day ad exec who travels back in time and is mistaken for Sancho Panza by Don Quixote. Scheduling concerns are seen as the biggest obstacle to Depp’s participation this time.

Depp also stars in Gilliam’s “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus,” which preems in Cannes May 22. Depp, along with Colin Farrell and Jude Law, stepped in to save Gilliam’s fantasy pic after lead actor Heath Ledger’s death during pic’s production.

Gilliam is hoping to start shooting “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” next spring. The main role of Don Quixote has yet to be cast.

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