Terry Gilliam On Giving Birth To ‘The Man Who Killed Don Quixote’, Warring With Paulo Branco, ‘Defective Detective’ & More – Crew Call Podcast

Some movies are willed into existence, some organically happen by chance, and some are severely birthed and Oscar-nominated filmmaker Terry Gilliam has been through it all, especially in the two-decade-plus production of his cherished The Man Who Killed Don QuixoteHis first go-round with the project starred Johnny Depp but was besieged by financial and production problems including a flash flood, NATO aircraft buzzing the set and star Jean Rochefort suffering a herniated disc. Gilliam resurrected the project in March 2017, battling with the pic’s financier Paulo Branco, the controversies of which the former Brazil filmmaker details extensively here in today’s Crew Call.

Cannes Film Festival

While many filmmakers and studios in this social media era are notorious about hiding or downplaying their production problems, Gilliam is unashamed, and an open book providing life lessons which the town can learn from. Today we cover a number of areas with him including his run with Monty Python, his continual angst in getting his pet projects to the big screen (i.e. the original screenplay Oscar-nominated Brazil and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen), his hot streak in the mid ’90s with Fisher King and 12 Monkeys, and wrestling with the Hollywood studios. While Don Quixote made its world premiere as the closing night film at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, the pic is making a run at this season’s Oscars having made its U.S. debut via Screen Media last year. Here are some highlights from our conversation with Gilliam:

On landing Adam Driver for The Man Who Killed Don Quixote:
“You meet this guy, he’s bankable. He’s completely different than what I was looking for, (but) he isn’t behaving like an actor. He has something deep in him. He’s honest.”

On clashing with financier-producer Paulo Branco over Don Quixote:
“I could see this guy is a pirate…he’s got the energy (to raise money). 16 million Euros, no problem, done…He’s very smart and charming when he wants to be, but a Jekyll and Hyde character…Amazon had U.S. and UK, one day with Paulo down there (in Cannes), they walked out.”

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On who the greater nemesis is when it comes to making movies: Paulo Branco or late Brazil foe and Universal boss Sid Sheinberg:
“Sid was a sweetheart. (With Paulo) you’re dealing with psychotic. You’re in a different world. Paulo is convinced that he’s the only producer who can make this impossible film. Then he fails, and then everyone else who has success in making the film, must be destroyed.”

Why his productions are traditionally under siege in a battle between art and commerce:
“People know more about my problems because books have been written about them and films made…I don’t know why I’ve been involved in extraordinary ones. My films aren’t like other films. They’re not simple films. They often divide audiences…Also I demand control.”

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On upcoming AppleTV series Time Bandits with Taika Waititi:
“I have a contract that says I’m executive producer…he’s the perfect guy to do Time Bandits, the comedy and the un-sensitivity.”

On Donald Trump:
“The disease that America is suffering has now come to England with the election of Boris Johnson. We’re all in the same madness and Cassandra’s box has been opened…these egotistical liars are springing up like mushrooms everywhere.”

On his next project Defective Detective with The Fisher King scribe Richard LaGravenese:
“We’ve been playing with it recently, we haven’t solved it yet. Perhaps it’s better to extend it to a six hour segment, to really let it breath…It’s about a middle-age New York City detective who has become cynical, just destroyed by life in the mean streets of New York. He was once a young hero when he first came to town, now he’s fat and burnt out and he ends up through a set of experiences, probably having a nervous breakdown. He winds up in a kid’s fantasy world where the rules of New York don’t apply….so much of the script is about right now.”

Nearly landing a directing gig on Harry Potter:
“J.K. Rowling wanted me to do it. David Heyman wanted me to do it. I got a free trip to LA, first class travel, ladies and gentleman…I’m explaining to the (Warner Bros.) boss all the things he wants to do won’t happen because you can’t shoot two (movies) at the same time. He’s falling asleep and I know I’m not going to get this job.”