×

Terry Gilliam Saddles Up for ‘Don Quixote’ After 20-Year Journey

Updated: After nearly two decades of missteps and mishaps, filming on the latest iteration of Terry Gilliam’s ill-fated “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” is due to start in October, with former Bond girl Olga Kurylenko added to a new cast that includes Adam Driver and Michael Palin.

Gilliam announced Wednesday that preparation on his pet project would begin next month and would be shot in Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands, to be finished by Christmas. Portuguese producer Paulo Branco signed up earlier this year on the film, which is budgeted at $19 million.

“I want to get this film out of my life so I can get on with the rest of my life,” a jovial and relaxed-looking Gilliam said at a press conference in Cannes.

He told Variety that the film kept nagging at him despite his having completed other movies in the interim, such as 2013’s “The Zero Theorem.”

“When they finish, ‘Quixote’ comes creeping back through the back of my skull,” he said. “It just won’t go away. I can see the film so clearly, and I think we’ve written a good script, and I hate the idea of that work going for naught.”

The project has suffered a series of misadventures worthy of the man of La Mancha himself. Disasters on set, unexpected illnesses and financial problems have caused production to be canceled or delayed several times since work first started on the movie 18 years ago. Gilliam has cast a succession of actors, including Johnny Depp, Robert Duvall and Ewan McGregor, in the film’s various incarnations.

In the new version, Driver is set to play Toby, a jaded young advertising executive who returns to the Spanish village where, as a student, he made a film based on Cervantes’ masterpiece. The consequences of that film have been catastrophic, and sweep Toby up in a fantastic extravaganza complete with damsels in distress, knights and giants.

Palin, one of Gilliam’s fellow “Monty Python” founders, plays a villager who believes himself to be Don Quixote. Kurylenko plays the wife of Toby’s boss.

Gilliam said he was adjusting the script to better suit his new cast, especially his new young leading actor, who has taken over the role originally played by Depp. Driver has been reading the book and sending Gilliam notes.

“Johnny is so good at creating — I wouldn’t say cartoon characters, but they’re extreme characters. Adam isn’t that kind of guy. He’s more solid, so I alter those,” Gilliam told Variety.

Other alterations are based on current events. “There’s a lot of Muslims in this film suddenly. I react to what’s going on in the world,” he said, adding: “They may or may not be real, just like most of the terrorists in the world.”

As for casting his old pal Palin, Gilliam quipped to reporters: “I thought I’d resurrect him. He’s not quite dead.”

The new version, scheduled for release next year, is expected to showcase the Gilliam-esque flights of fancy seen in the director’s previous films, such as “Brazil” and “Twelve Monkeys.”

The problems besetting Gilliam’s pet project were the subject of their own movie, the well-regarded 2002 documentary “Lost in La Mancha.” Flash floods and the illness of actor Jean Rochefort helped scrap the first attempt at making “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.” A reboot announced last year was also suspended because of illness, after actor John Hurt received a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

More Film

  • Mammoth Films Festival to Open With

    'In Fabric' to Open Mammoth Lakes Film Festival

    Director Peter Strickland’s “In Fabric” starring “Game of Thrones” star Gwendoline Christie is set to open the fifth Mammoth Lakes Film Festival, the organization has announced today along with their film lineup. The festival in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., will take place May 22-26 and feature several films’ U.S. debuts. In addition to the narrative feature [...]

  • Kristen Stewart'JT LeRoy' Film Premiere, Arrivals,

    Kristen Stewart: 'Charlie's Angels' Reboot Is 'Woke' but Still 'Funny and Weird'

    “Charlie’s Angels” has made the jump to 2019. Kristen Stewart, who stars in the Elizabeth Banks-directed reboot as one of the Angels, says the classic ’70s franchise has been updated to modern times without losing its pulpy action. “At one point I think we said it was woke and grounded, and everyone was like, ‘Wait, [...]

  • Calamity Jane

    Indie Sales Acquires Remi Chayé's Female-Driven Animated Feature 'Calamity' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Paris-based company Indie Sales (“My Life as a Zucchini”) has acquired Rémi Chayé’s animated film “Calamity – The Childhood of Martha Jane Cannary,” the French helmer’s follow up to his critically acclaimed feature debut “Long Way North.” “Calamity – The Childhood of Martha Jane Cannary” tells the story of the 12-year-old Martha Jane who must [...]

  • Scarlett Johansson on 2020 Election, Avengers

    Scarlett Johansson on Running for Office: 'Maybe at Some Point'

    President Scarlett Johansson, anyone? While she may not be running for office at the moment, Johansson says a campaign may be in her future. “Maybe some time in the future,” she says when asked if her political activism has inspired her own aspirations. “I think the greatest way to effect change is in local politics. [...]

  • Circus of Books

    Netflix Acquires Tribeca Doc 'Circus of Books,' Exec Produced by Ryan Murphy (EXCLUSIVE)

    Netflix has acquired worldwide rights to the documentary “Circus of Books” ahead of its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. Rachel Mason wrote and directed the pic, and also produced it along with Kathryn Robson, Cynthia Childs, Camilla Hall and Adam Baron. Ryan Murphy, Josh Braun, John Battsek, Rhianon Jones and Gerald Herman executive produced. [...]

  • Santa Fe Studios Netflix

    Santa Fe Studios Competes With Other New Mexico Stages for Streaming Business

    Albuquerque Studios entered the spotlight last October when it was purchased by Netflix. While the complex is clearly the jewel in the crown of New Mexico’s production infrastructure, with eight soundstages totaling 132,000 square feet, 100,000 square feet of production offices, a large backlot and support space, it’s not the only modern studio facility in [...]

  • Jennifer Kaytin Robinson Someone Great

    'Someone Great' Director Jennifer Kaytin Robinson on Reimagining the Rom-Com

    Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, creator of the MTV series “Sweet/Vicious,” recently made her feature debut with “Someone Great,”  now streaming on Netflix. The film follows three friends as they navigate relationships and work in New York City.  Here, the writer-director opens up on reimagining the rom-com, and women changing the face of Hollywood. The three young [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content