It’s been a long, frustrating ride for Terry Gilliam and his efforts to make a film inspired by Miguel De Cervantes' 17th Century Spanish classic Don Quixote. The one time he actually managed to get it on its feet, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote stumbled quickly thanks to a quagmire of bad luck, bad health and bad weather. He has announced several start dates in the years since, talking up an early 2015 kick-off in May. Now he’s saying that shooting will begin just after Christmas, and details to The Wrap how the film has changed.
The version that was to have starred Johnny Depp – chronicled in its misfortune by documentary Lost In La Mancha – followed an ad man who meets Quixote. Now? It’s more about the character himself, and just a smidge of the director...
“I keep incorporating my own life into it and shifting it,” Gilliam says. “The basic underlying premise of the version Johnny was involved in was that he actually was going to be transported back to the 17th century, and now it all takes place now, it's contemporary. It's more about how movies can damage people.”
And he knows whereof he speaks. “I've done it so many times — or not done it so many times — I'll believe it when I see it,” he laughs. “However, I'm behaving as if it's all going to happen as planned.” Just don’t tell God, or he’ll come down with the biggest fit of the giggles.
So Gilliam’s going Meta – “Our main character actually made a Don Quixote movie a lot earlier in his history, and the effect it had on many people wasn't very nice. Some people go mad, some people turn to drink, some people become whores” – and he has the financing in place to crank the cameras in January. John Hurt has been mentioned as a potential new Quixote, but with cast discussions in that fraught negotiation stage, Gilliam can’t confirm anything. Meanwhile, we go on keeping our fingers, toes and eyes crossed that it finally happens.