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Overview for Terry Gilliam
Terry Gilliam

Terry Gilliam


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Also Known As: Terrence Vance Gilliam Died:
Born: November 22, 1940 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Medicine Lake, Minnesota, USA Profession: Cast ... director animator screenwriter actor print illustrator author advertising copywriter magazine editor advertising art director


liam changed the film's opening credits and dedicated the work to Ledger and his actor friends who came to the rescue and helped him finish. Meanwhile, Gilliam resurrected "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote" from the dead after almost a decade since the disaster that befell the previous shoot. Once again starring Depp as Sancho Panza, the film went into pre-production in early 2009 with a tentative release date set for the following year - provided no flash floods or injured stars loomed on the horizon. battling against the oppressive bureaucracy of the governing state. Gilliam publicly clashed with Universal over the release of the film. The studio balked at the length of this darkly comic look at a futuristic society, resulting in two versions; a European cut that ran 142 minutes and an American one that clocked in at 131 minutes. It was the beginning of a series of headaches Gilliam would endure throughout his career.

After months of squabbling with Universal, including a full-page ad in Variety from Gilliam that demanded the studio release the film as is, the matter came to a head when the still-unreleased "Brazil" earned Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay prizes from the Los Angeles Film Critics. At the time of its initial release - and in part because it had become a cause célèbre - "Brazil" was a moneymaker in a limited amount of venues. Once it opened wider, with little support from the studio, "Brazil" proved less successful. The studio cut, which ran nearly an hour less, was aired on American television but lacked Gilliam's trademark fantasy sequences. His vision of an Orwellian future was eventually restored when a director's cut was released in 1998. Following such a dark and convoluted tale, Gilliam directed "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen" (1988), a visually stunning spectacle that combined state-of-the-art special effects with a resplendent production design, impeccable cinematography, and fantastical costumes to tell the story of Baron Munchausen (John Neville) and his attempt to save a town from being taken by the Turks. Despite the striking visuals, structural problems abounded in the story - as with much of Gilliam's work, slow pacing in the second half caused the film to slog along. Regardless, Neville delivered a fine performance in the title role.

After a three year absence, Gilliam returned to features with another imaginative fable. Working from a strong script by Richard La Gravenese, he helmed "The Fisher King" (1991), which starred Jeff Bridges as a callous talk show host who encounters a former college professor-turned-homeless man (Robin Williams) whose life, Bridges discovers, he has impacted in a horrific way. With several wonderful set pieces, particularly a fantasy set in Grand Central Terminal, the film tied the director's visual flair to a more heart-warming and accessible journey that the public got behind en masse. Gilliam directed one of his most intriguing projects, "12 Monkeys" (1995), an eye-popping return to futuristic fare starring Bruce Willis as a man perpetually doomed by fate. In adapting Chris Marker's "La Jetee" as a sci-fi thriller, he wove a compelling yarn about a convicted criminal from the future (Willis) who is sent back in time to stop a deadly virus that nearly wipes out mankind, only to realize that he may in fact just be insane. He next tackled a long-aborted project that many tried and failed to translate to film, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" (1998). Starring Johnny Depp as the good doctor, the film followed Thompson to Las Vegas, where he tries to report on a motor car race while battling LSD-induced lizards and an imposing police presence. While critics and audiences were divided over how successful he was in adapting Thompson's Gonzo novel, it was clear that Gilliam had come closest to capturing the free-spirited essence of his work.

Gilliam ran head-first into bitter disappointment with a disastrous attempt to fulfill his long-held dream of filming his take of Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote. Gilliam's "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote" was a $32 million film set to star Johnny Depp as a modern-day hero who is transported back in time to find himself acting as Sancho Panza to old Don Quixote. Despite the promising premise, the movie was plagued by catastrophe from day one, including the loss of French actor Jean Rochefort, who was cast in the title role, due to a herniated disc. Meanwhile, a torrential storm flooded the set, causing the Madrid-based production to come to an immediate halt, leaving Gilliam creatively frustrated and - much like Don Quixote himself - tilting at windmills in a battle he would never win. The entire experience was the basis of a second film, "Lost in La Mancha" (2003), which used footage intended for a DVD feature to tell the painful, but fascinating story of Gilliam's struggle and ultimate defeat in making his film. "Lost in La Mancha" was an enlightening peek at the behind-the-scenes battles that occur during the movie-making process.

Gilliam intended his next effort, the adventure fable "The Brothers Grimm" (2005), to serve as a major comeback. But once again, the visionary, but embattled director clashed with the studio heads - in this case, the infamous brothers Bob and Harvey Weinstein, who meddled one too many times for Gilliam's liking. Their biggest mistake was firing his regular cinematographer, Nicola Pecorini, after six weeks of filming, which came after the executives refused Gilliam his first choice of lead actress, Samantha Morton. Gilliam became so enraged by the Weinsteins' constant influence that production was shut down for two weeks. Eventually, he reconciled with the Weinsteins and the filming continued. When released, audiences were treated to a comedic fantasy focused on a fictionalized version of the Bavarian brothers (Matt Damon and Heath Ledger) known for their famous fairy tales, casting them as con artists who trick simple-minded villagers into paying them to solve the fake supernatural curses that the brothers themselves have rigged, only to be tasked with solving a genuine magical curse that has befallen a local town. Their bizarre encounters serve as inspiration to the legendary stories they would later hand down to future generations. Though visually rich, as expected, "The Brothers Grimm" lacked the panache of Gilliam's more imaginative fare and failed to fulfill the promise of the script, which at one time was a hot commodity in Hollywood.

With his next film, "Tideland" (2006), Gilliam had a relatively drama-free production - at least in comparison to his previous efforts. But what he produced onscreen far outdid anything he had done in terms of going overboard with his visuals, particularly in a scene when the main character, a little girl (Jodelle Ferland) who lost her mother (Jennifer Tilly) to a drug overdose, carries on conversations with severed Barbie doll heads in a barren wasteland of a prairie. Gilliam did, however, coax an exceptional performance out his young lead, Ferland, who earned awards and nominations when the film traveled the festival circuit. Gilliam ran into tragedy of a different sort with his next project, "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" (2009), which starred Heath Ledger as a mysterious outsider who joins a travelling theatre group headed by the immortal Doctor Parnassus (Christopher Plummer). About a third of the way through shooting, Ledger died of an accidental drug overdose in early 2008, leaving the rest of the production in doubt. But instead of abandoning the project, Gilliam enlisted the help of Ledger friends and peers, Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell, who played revamped incarnations of Ledger's role while collectively diverting their salaries to the actor's daughter, Matilda.

Though delayed for two months, filming resumed and was completed in short order, with a release date set for the summer of 2009. Gil

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