For almost fifty years, American-born British director Terry Gilliam has been giving the wold amazing stories. From his work as a fundamental member of the Monty Python comedy group to film classics like 12 Monkeys and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, the man is basically a living treasure. Still, Hollywood can be a cruel mistress, and even someone of Gilliam’s stature can have trouble getting a passion project made. His updated version of a literary classic, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, has been in development hell for nearly two decades.
But not anymore! Last year, after years and years of production halts and dreadful issues of all sorts, Gillian finished principal photography for the film. And while there has been mostly radio silence on the matter since, we just got the very first look from Berlinale attendant Andrea Corsini.
around european film market i’ve got the first official picture from terry gilliam’s quixote with adam driver and jonathan pryce #themanwhokilleddonquixote #Berlinale #TerryGilliam pic.twitter.com/5IOmapTqSc
— Andrea Corsini (@andreamtcorsini) February 21, 2018
There it is: Jonathan Pryce in all his knightly glory – almost like an older version of his character from Brazil. He’s accompanied by Kylo Ren himself, Adam Driver, in the role of an advertising executive who the leading man mistakes for Sancho Panza.
Much like Miguel de Cervantes’ novel, the story follows an older man who’s gone insane, and now believes himself to be Don Quixote. But Gilliam’s efforts to get the movie made have been stopped by forces bigger than windmills.
Gilliam’s take on the Spanish literary classic has been changed constantly over the course of the past two decades. It was originally a time traveling tale, occurring between the 21st and 17th centuries; Den of Geek reports that the final shooting script is looser. Seeing as Gilliam’s work has often guided his characters outside of the realm of reality (the masterful Brazil and The Fisher King come to mind), this seems like a fantastic conclusion to his passion project of decades.
The rest of the cast includes Quantum of Solace Bond girl Olga Kurylenko as the Dulcinea-type romantic interest, and Thor actor and Skarsgård patriarch Stellan Skarsgård also has a role. Most of the other performers are Spanish, like frequent Pedro Almodóvar collaborator Rossy de Palma, Blow alum Jordi Mollà and Óscar Jaenada.
Trouble in La Mancha
Pre-production of the first attempt at making The Man Who Killed Don Quixote began in 1998. Originally, the cast included Jean Rochefort, Johnny Depp, Vanessa Paradis and even Doctor Who himself, Christopher Eccleston. The film underwent insane issues, including Rochefort’s poor health and even an actual flood that wasn’t covered by insurance. This seemingly cursed production is actually on film in Lost in La Mancha, a fascinating documentary about Gilliam’s failed attempt to get the film made.
Later attempts included the involvement of Gerard Depardieu, Robert Duvall, Ewan McGregor and John Hurt, but nothing came of it. The film was later embroiled in a bitter rights battle between Gilliam and the French production company overseeing the first attempt. It wasn’t until recently that the matter was solved, allowing for production to finally begin.
Gilliam also went through a famously difficult production right after the first Don Quixote attempt, with The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. When leading man Heath Ledger passed away during principal photography, production was halted indefinitely for a while. The issue was resolved by bringing in Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell to play various versions of Ledger’s character.