After being on his “to do” list for far too long, Monty Python alum and film maker Terry Gilliam is ready to bring his Don Quixote project back from the dead. The reason? He wants it out of his life, after years of glitches, disasters and stagnation.
Talking to reporters at the Cannes Film Festival, Gilliam related that he wants the film off his plate for good, so he’ll resume work on “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” this coming October. Slated to play the role of Don Quixote is the legendary Michael Palin, Gilliam’s former fellow Pythonite.
Since its conception, the project has been plagued by misfortune and has come to be known as “cursed”. But Gilliam rejects this characterization out of hand as industry scuttlebutt. He’s determined to see the film through.
Johnny Depp’s name has been floated as a possibility for a cameo role. When the film was abandoned at the dawn of the millennium, Depp was one of those most heavily invested. Palin has been quoted as saying there’s a plum role for the megastar in the Quixote project, at a less involved level.
With Spain as Don Quixote’s setting, insider jokes about Monty Python’s famous “Spanish Inquisition” sketch (“Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!”) abound. Casting Palin in the role of the aging tilter against windmills hasn’t helped, of course.
Gilliam was unequivocal in stating that other former Monty Python alumni won’t be cast, due to their age and cantankerous temperaments. Of a “certain age” himself, Gilliam has little patience for those he deems “impossible” to deal with in a professional setting.
The project’s demise in 2000 is detailed in the Paulo Branco documentary “Lost in La Mancha”. The Portuguese film maker’s chronicle of events of the day, relates glitches like inclement weather and failing health contributing to the shelving of Palin’s film. Sadly, Branco has stated that Gilliam will not allow documentarians on the set, this time around.
The newly-resurrected film will be shot on location in Spain, the Canary Islands and Portugal. Palin insists that it will wrap no later than Christmas and that he’ll be presenting the finished project at next year’s Cannes film fest.
Perhaps the misfortunes of the film’s early life have been a blessing in disguise, as this year marks 400 years since “Don Quixote de la Mancha” author Miguel de Cervantes’ death. To complete the film this year would seem fortuitous.
Over the years of the film’s half-life, actors like Ewan McGregor and Robert Duvall, as well as Jack O’Connell and John Hurt have been linked to Gilliam’s “dream nightmare”. Now, though, Gilliam feels as though all the pieces of the puzzle have fallen together at the right moment. The effect is a cast promising to do the film justice.
Star Wars actor, Adam Driver, is set to play Sancho Panza, with Gilliam enthusing about his involvement, saying he was exactly the right man for the role. His connection to the Star Wars franchise also provides some needed star power for the film.
But that’s not the end of Gilliam’s love affair with Driver’s involvement. It seems that Adam Driver is also the first actor in the project’s checkered history who is actually taking the time to read Cervantes’ early 17th Century masterpiece.
Literary film buffs can look forward to Gilliam’s Don Quixote project finally reaching the screen in 2017.