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Comic-Con First Look: Terry Gilliam's 'The Zero Theorem,' Starring Christoph Waltz, Bald and Naked

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood July 19, 2013 at 6:30AM

So far, after one day Summit's "Divergent" and "Ender's Game" presentation provided the big news at Comic-Con. (More on that later.) In other news, Hall H saw the long overdue first woman moderator of a movie panel in Hall H, the LATimes' Hero Complex editor Gina McIntyre. Jenna Busch has moderated one Sunday TV panel, according to Comic-Con staffers.
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Terry Gilliam's 'The Zero Theorem'
Terry Gilliam's 'The Zero Theorem'

So far, after one day Summit's "Divergent" and "Ender's Game" presentation provided the big news at Comic-Con. (More on that later.) In other news, Hall H saw the long overdue first woman moderator of a movie panel in Hall H, the LATimes' Hero Complex editor Gina McIntyre. Jenna Busch has moderated one Sunday TV panel, according to Comic-Con staffers. 

McIntyre hosted a panel late Thursday afternoon, debuting a new trailer and the first four scenes--ten minutes-- from Terry Gilliam's new movie "The Zero Theorem." The story written by Florida academic Pat Rushin (inspired by "Brazil") revolves around an eccentric bald computer genius (Christoph Waltz) who wanders around naked and wrestles with existential angst. When he falls in love, his project to solve the meaning of life takes on new meaning. Tilda Swinton, Ben Whishaw, Melanie Thierry, Peter Stormare and David Thewlis also star, and Matt Damon is in there somewhere, Gilliam promised. 

Gilliam didn't show in San Diego, but sent an entertaining video clip about being held prisoner until he finished the movie. The video was more entertaining than the film scenes."'Zero Theorem' is a small intimate impassioned film," he said. "I know you're tired of superheroes. I want quality again. This is a film about a man waiting for one simple thing, a call that will give his life meaning, what we're all dreaming of, all of us. We want the answers, this one gives them."

Producer Dean Zanuck ("Get Low") was looking for original screenplay, "which is harder to find these days," he said. "Every indie producer has to take on existential meaning of life piece at some point in his career. We found the only director who could have done this film; Terry was able to get that cast."

Gilliam sprig Amy ("The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus") produced many of the commercials featured in the film, which was shot in Bucharest. She was revealing about what it's like to grow up and work with Gilliam: "My whole family life has been an adventure, a bit like his movies, never a dull moment, full of lots of situations. I wanted to work with him, nice to do it with someone you care about. He doesn't give up, even on family holidays, a time for enjoying parents and siblings, he's always on the job. Wherever we are, there's something to do. Every day is fun with Terry. We're always laughing even when we're crying. Working on his firms is like getting a big family together and making something magical. He never stops exploring, every moment he's creating. My challenge is always to be ahead of him. I never can be. Terry loves to be tormented, that's what makes him create his kind of work. Without the torment it would be boring."

Gilliam's films are always visually sumptuous--each set is jammed with crazy details and fun to watch. "The Zero Theorem" is shot by Nicola Pecorini ("The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus," "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas"). It's edited by Mick Audsley ("Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," "High Fidelity") and composed by George Fenton ("Dangerous Liaisons," "Gandhi").

Terry Gilliam's 'The Zero Theorem'
Voltage Pictures Terry Gilliam's 'The Zero Theorem'

This article is related to: Comic-Con, Terry Gilliam, Christoph Waltz, Tilda Swinton


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.