By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist November 21, 2011 at 9:41AM
But Paul Auster Adaptation 'Mr. Vertigo' Also Still In The Mix
At this point, it probably would have been easier for Terry Gilliam to fight an actual windmill than to make "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote." The filmmaker's long-time dream project, with a script by Tony Grisoni ("Red Riding") that saw a modern-day advertising executive transported back in time to partner up with Miguel Cervantes' legendarily deluded hero, originally went before cameras way back in October 2000, with Johnny Depp in the lead role, but after a string of disasters, including a flash flood and an injury to Jean Rochefort, who was playing Quixote, the film was shut down, documented only in the excellent documentary "Lost in La Mancha."
Rights were tied up in legal problems for years, but two years ago, the film came back from the dead, with Gilliam announcing that Ewan McGregor and Robert Duvall had signed on to star, and the film was set to shoot the following year. Again, however, financing fell through at the last minute, and it seemed as if the film would never get made. But with Gilliam having had a pretty good year, by his standards, with the well-received short "The Wholly Family" and the outstanding opera production "The Damnation of Faust," has a glimmer of hope finally appeared?
According to Italian site Altarimini, Gilliam was awarded the annual Fellini Foundation Prize on Saturday in Rimini, and at the press conference, Gilliam said that he hopes to finally get underway on the project next year, with Duvall still attached to play Quixote (it's unclear if McGregor's still involved at this point). We've heard this before, but it seems there is a bit of reason for hope here as in the current issue of Empire Magazine, Gilliam said that "There's somebody new come along with a new bit of energy... a person who can get money."
With all projects, but especially this one, it's worth being very cautious about any reports. The Italian site says Gilliam is currently looking for funding, which is like saying a homeless person is looking for a house, and the director stressed to Empire, "It's at a very early stage. And I've been around this one so often. Because what's happened is that the business is very superstitious. It's been around too long, it's tainted, it's cursed." But fingers crossed, anyway. Actually getting the film made would go some way to slaying some demons for the filmmaker, clearly.
That's not the only film that Gilliam has in the works, however. He's been adapting Paul Auster's "Mr. Vertigo" and he also updated Empire on the status of that project saying, "This Paul Auster thing -- those are Hollywood producers... If we get it together I'll probably do it." The plot involves an orphaned boy who's taught to levitate (although Gilliam adds that "That's what it appears to be about..."), so it seems like it could be right in his wheelhouse. Let's hope that it's more "Time Bandits" than "Tideland," eh?
On a final Gilliam-related note, British actor John Neville, who played the title role in the director's "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen," sadly passed away on Saturday at the age of 86, according to the National Post. Neville had a successful career in British theater before moving to Canada in the 1970s, where he became a mainstay of the theater scene, including running the legendary Stratford Festival for three years in the late 1980s. He's best known for his turn in Gilliam's film, but had a number of other significant credits, including Gillian Armstrong's "Little Women," David Cronenberg's "Spider" and as the creepy recurring villain The Well Manicured Man in "The X-Files."