Miracles do happen; don't let anyone tell you differently. We now have the definitive proof. Terry Gilliam's The Man Who Killed Don Quixote is getting ready to film this September. A fantastical take on the Cervantes masterwork, the story follows a modern man as he is transported back in time and joins forces with Don Quixote. Since this is a Gilliam film, wacky characters, bizarre situations, wide angle lenses and horses-jumping-through-windows-in-slow-motion will most certainly ensue.
Ewan McGregor has joined the cast, playing the time traveler who teams up with Don Quixote, to be portrayed by the great Robert Duvall. McGregor and Duvall fill roles originally occupied by Johnny Depp and Jean Rochefort during the first attempt to make the film in 2000. As captured on camera in the great documentary Lost in La Mancha, the production fell victim to freak weather and a leading man's poor health and the entire thing was scrapped only a few days into shooting. It took a decade, but the ever-persistent Gilliam has managed to pull together the $20 million he needs to get the movie made, a steep drop from the $35 million he had the first time around, but beggars can't be choosers, right?
Empire spoke with Gilliam at the Cannes Film Festival, where McGregor's new film, The Ghost, was playing:
"Robert Duvall is one of the greats, no question - and he can ride a horse!...And Ewan has gotten better over the years. He was wonderful in The Ghost. There's a lot of colours to Ewan that he's not been showing recently and it's time for him to show them again. He's got a great sense of humour 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!"
Gilliam is right...it's been far too long since I liked McGregor in anything, a true shame since the guy can really rock a performance when he's teamed with the right script and director. If anyone can wash the Star Wars doldrums out of McGregor's mind, it's the enthusiastic, endlessly creative Gilliam.
On a final, tangentially related note (and speaking as a total Gilliam fanboy who wrote a 117 page paper on his work for a History of Film class in college), I'm not only looking forward to this project because it's a new Gilliam film, but also because I truly feel it could be the summation of his entire career as an artist. Don Quixote is the story of a man who embraces a fantasy and lives life the way he wants to even if others view him as insane. Similarly, Gilliam is a filmmaker with a singular personal vision who will not bend for anyone and makes the movies he truly wants to make, even when studio heads label him as box office poison or try to "fix" his movies behind his back. I think Gilliam sees a lot of himself in Quixote. I think The Man Who Killed Don Quixote could be Gilliam's most personal film yet.
Don Quixote eventually regains his sanity and dies a sad, lonely man. Let's hope Gilliam never finds his sanity and keeps making bizarre, wonderful movies until the day he dies...or can't find funding anymore.