Terry Gilliam on 'Don Quixote': I Would Say "Fuck This, Except It's The Best Script I’ve Got"

by Edward Davis
June 20, 2011 11:12 AM
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Is Robert Duvall Out?



While recent years haven't been kind to filmmaker Terry Gilliam or his art, we love the dude (no, really) because he's a maverick and he's very outspoken. He has seen a lot of ups and downs since 2002's "Lost in La Mancha" which documented his heartbreaking attempt at getting his "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote" film off the ground to disastrous results and it almost seems like that period marks a before and after stage in his work. Gilliam's trajectory has been Sisyphean of late, but you must hand it to the man who just keeps plugging away and forging ahead.

While, one quick perspective so far of his new short, "The Wholly Family" is unfortunately not very good, perhaps there's light at the end of the tunnel. Our review of his opera "The Damnation of Faust" was positively glowing. We called it a "return to form and then some." Not too shabby.

Anyhow, a Persol “Magnificent Obsessions” exhibit was on display at New York’s Center 548 this weekend and Vulture caught up with the always frank, always chatty and always magnificently obsessed Gilliam, who gave a small update on 'Don Quixote.' The quick take away: his dogged determination has not been eroded by the project's ongoing obstacles.

As we all know, financing fell through on "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote" last year even with Ewan McGregor and Robert Duvall set to star in the roles already inhabited by Johnny Depp and Jean Rochefort.

"We had almost all of it together last year and then it fizzed out," Gilliam told the New York Magazine blog about what happened. "What’s happening with money is there’s a number that’s the wrong number, and we’re at that number — $25 million, that’s just the wrong number. But it’ll work out. We just keep looking at different places to shoot, checking out Argentina, see if that’s less money. I don’t think in the States. I think most of the money is going to come from elsewhere. They want to give people $200 million to make the same film. Or they give them $5 million to do something interesting."

Will any of the actors stick around? He makes some comments that suggest Duvall's salary puts him out of range and he admits while he's wanted to toss his hands in the air and walk away from this film, there's a very good reason why he hasn't abandoned it.

"Duvall is a great actor, but he’s not there for that kind of money, so you’re looking for other combinations," he said. "Strange enough, I’m actually quite tired of the whole thing. It’s been going on for so long, there’s a side of me that’s like, 'Fuck this.' Except it’s still the best script that I’ve got."

What about other projects he's got like the "Defective Detective." Well, it could be made... if you have an extra tentpole budget lying around in your back pocket that you can lend him.

"That’s [a] great [project], if you’ve got $100 million," he laughed. "And we’ve been running around trying to resuscitate that little baby. And if I can’t get the money for the $25 million thing, I can try for this, and people in Hollywood will say, “Can you do it for $50 [million]?” “Can you do it for $20 [million]?” And you realize, there are idiots out there. How many people in Hollywood just have no idea how films are made? What’s involved in making a film? That’s the one thing that always assuages me: No matter how dumb my thing, there’s always one that’s dumber."

Love it. Well, considering everyone just assumes she's just throwing money away, paging Megan Ellison?

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