The “Obi-Wan Kenobi” star was set to replace Johnny Depp in Terry Gilliam’s long-awaited “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” about an advertising executive who travels back in time to 17th-century Spain where he meets the real Quixote. The first attempt at the film, starring Depp, was over-budget, with Gilliam saying at the time that he was “relieved” it fell apart. Now, McGregor told GQ about the time the director Gilliam approached him in 2010 to lead the script that was 20 years in the making. (The role eventually went to Adam Driver in the finished 2018 film.)
“[Terry Gilliam says, ‘What the fuck have you been doing all this time? You’ve been underplaying everything,'” McGregor recalled. “‘What happened to the guy in ‘Trainspotting’? What happened to that guy?!'”
This was well after McGregor broke out of “Trainspotting” in 1996 and by then had starred in the “Star Wars” prequel films.
McGregor added, “It was quite rude. It’s rare that somebody challenges you. But it stuck with me.”
Back in 2010, Gilliam said to Empire magazine (via The Guardian) that he sought out McGregor to provide the star with a different platform for which to showcase his multi-faceted acting abilities.
“There’s a lot of colors to Ewan that he’s not been showing recently and it’s time for him to show them again,” Gilliam said. “He’s got a great sense of humor and he’s a wonderful actor. He’s wonderfully boyish and can be charming — when he flashes a smile, everybody melts. He wields it like a nuclear bomb.”
However, mere months after announcing McGregor’s casting, Gilliam shared that funding had once again collapsed. By 2012, McGregor had exited the project. He went on to star in “August: Osage County” and “Jack the Giant Slayer” the following year.
Back when the film was finally released theatrically stateside in 2019, Gilliam exclusively told IndieWire that the film was worth the decades in the making. “We did something everybody said ‘don’t do,'” Gilliam said. “I didn’t take advice. I feel good when I don’t take advice…I don’t think of the film as taking 30 years to make. The film we made, we made in one year.”
Terry Gilliam was most recently in the news for an excerpt of director/actor Sarah Polley’s memoir, in which she detailed the unsafe working conditions she experienced as a child on his film “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.”