The saga of the unmade, on-again, off-again “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” could be a movie unto itself. And actually, it is, with the documentary “Lost In La Macha” capturing Terry Gilliam’s first failed/cursed attempt to bring the Tony Grisoni-penned picture to the big screen. Since then, the movie has moved in fits and starts, with money sometimes coming together only to fall apart, as cast members such as Ewan McGregor, Robert Duvall and the long attached Johnny Depp (who is now working on his own ‘Quixote’ movie at Disney) have come and gone. But the filmmaker has pursued and completed other projects, including the forthcoming “The Zero Theorem” which is gearing up to make its debut in Venice in just a couple of weeks. However, it appears ‘Quixote’ nearly happened, again.
“Last May, after Cannes, our latest attempt to get ‘Don Quixote’ off the ground almost came together until key elements in the financing pulled out and the film started crumbling again,” he told Deadline, explaining how he eventually tackled “The Zero Theorem” instead and that he’s about ready to throw in the towel on ‘Quixote.’
“[It’s] a waste of life,” he laughed when asked to summarize his experience in trying to get the film made. “What is strange, it has become a kind of Holy Grail, it became a focus I’ve poured a lot of energy towards, even obliquely while I was doing something else. It’s very odd, but I’m almost at the point where I’m ready to give it up. I’ve just spent too many years on this, and each time I had a go at it I’ve rewritten it again, to reflect what I’ve been through or how I’m seeing the world. So I then sometimes steal ideas from what I was going to do with ‘Quixote,’ and incorporate them into whatever film might come along. It has been a kind of idea warehouse.”
But of course, ‘Quixote’ isn’t the only project Gilliam has chased only to have it get scuttled. At one point, he was attached to direct an adaptation of Alan Moore‘s “Watchmen,” and while that didn’t come to pass, Gilliam has zero interest in helming a movie about superheroes, and is generally dismayed by Hollywood’s blockbuster culture.
” ‘Zero Theorem,’ I won’t tell you how cheap it was, but it was incredibly cheap, the lowest budget film I’ve made in over 30 years. It doesn’t look it, but that is the reality of the world I live in now. I don’t want to do a Marvel movie, I don’t want to do any of that stuff,” he explained. “The film industry in a sense is a perfect mirror of society. The 1% are those tentpole pictures where all the money goes. What happens in society is that the middle class is getting hammered, and films in the middle range cost-wise are just not happening now. When I was looking to do this film five years ago, it had a budget of X. We’ve just done it for a third of X because of how things changed for movies like this one. That forced me to go to Bucharest to work. Basically, the cast we have is made up of friends, coming in and working for scale, because they wanted to help out.”
We’ll soon see the results of “The Zero Theorem,” which stars Christoph Waltz, Melanie Thierry, Tilda Swinton, Peter Stormare, David Thewlis and Matt Damon in a tale of a computer hacker coming face to face with the absurdities of government interference. While we wait, a couple new snaps from the film have arrived which you can check out up top and down below.