Terry Gilliam’s “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” may be one of the most troubled productions in the history of cinema, but 17 years and one famously failed attempt to make the movie haven’t convinced Gilliam that the project is doomed.
“The curse is bullshit,” Gilliam said at a press conference in Cannes on Wednesday, where he and producer Paulo Branco officially announced that the latest version of the story will begin shooting this October in Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands. The budget of the film, which takes place in the 21st century and stars Adam Driver, Michael Palin and Olga Kurylenko, is roughly $19 million.
“Along the way there have been so many versions of this film in my mind and it changed with each cast, and finally this year I think I got the perfect cast,” Gilliam said, calling Driver “the guy I’ve been looking for all these years.” Driver will play Toby, an advertising director who made a short film adaptation of the story of Don Quixote.
“Adam is Sancho Panzo, but he’s not,” Gilliam said. “Nobody is who they seem in this movie.”
Palin will play the title character. Paolo Branco, who Wim Wenders recommended to Gilliam, will produce the movie. The pair met in February, and Gilliam called Branco the only prouder alive who could get the project made.
This year marks the 400th anniversary of the death of “Don Quixote” writer Miguel de Cervantes, which Gilliam joked is the reason the film is being made now. “We should be here in Cannes next year with the finished film, and then you can ask me why I made such a mess of it or why I made such a wonderful film,” he said. “I think it’s going to be great.”
Despite his optimism, Gilliam also said he’s “terrified” of the prospect of finally making the movie that fans of the story have been expecting for so long.
“It’s one of those dream nightmares that never leave you until you finish the thing,” Gilliam said. “I want to get this film out of my life so that I can get on with the rest of my life.”
Still, Gilliam pledged his undying affection for the character, who he referred to as ridiculous, foolish, and arrogant.
“He’s a pain in the fucking ass — he’s pathetic — but you’ve got to care for him,” he said.