10 Things We Learnt About Terry Gilliam And The Man Who Killed Don Quixote

10 Things We Learnt About Terry Gilliam And The Man Who Killed Don Quixote

Over Twenty-Five Years In The Making

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote is on at Cannes today and here’s 10 things we learnt about it and Gilliam’s feelings about it from an interview Deadline did with the man himself this week…

  1. Gilliam, despite all the reports, is physically fine now: “Oh, just a little hospital visit [laughs]. I’m fine. It will probably wreak its revenge when the festival is over, but right now I’m operating fine.”
  2. The film has continued to have an incredibly checkered production history, even for a Gilliam film but the filmmaker still seems fairly sanguine about it all:”Well, that’s the problem, if you do Quixote you expect to be treated like Quixote [laughs]. The book is all about suffering, or at least it’s about the triumph over suffering. So it seems to me it has played out perfectly so far.My moment of clarity happened fairly late in the day because I had just started screening it. I show it to friends, and they bring their friends, and that’s when I know it’s working. I don’t trust my own judgment. There’s a moment where you think, “Yeah, we’ve done this.” Then we screened it for the French press, a few weeks ago, and they just reiterated it. They did exit polls when people were leaving, and I’d say 95% of them loved it.”
  3. The final film has changed significantly during the journey Gilliam has taken with it over the years and he sees this as a positive thing:”I think it changed quite a bit. The thing is, it changed for the better. That’s what was so interesting, is that this whole quarter-century process made the film what it is now, and it’s better. The big jump was when we didn’t have Toby knocked on the head and ending up in the 17th Century. To keep it all modern. Part of that was just the practically—it was just cheaper if you don’t have to paint out all the telephone lines and satellite dishes. But it was a better idea because the original was about him traveling back in time to meet the real Don Quixote. This idea we ended up with, with the guy who believes he’s Don Quixote because he was in a movie in which he played Don Quixote. It really became a movie about movies and the making of movies.”
  4. The film acted as a kind of therapy for the filmmaker:”Well, in a sense it came from I kept trying to make it new for me. Banging on that same old thing we tried before gets very tiresome. It was tricking my own brain into thinking, “Ah, it’s new, it’s fresh, it’s not the same old s–t we’ve been doing for 25 years…I went through I don’t know how many producers through the years, and the interesting thing is the producers that came forward were as mad as Quixote. They were the fantasists, not me. I’m the Sancho Panza; I’m the realist. But because the struggle had become so famous, they all came with the thought, “I’m the one that will show the world I’m the best.” It finally got to Paulo [Branco], who has done a wonderful job of showing the world [laughs].”
  5. He spoke about the situation with producer Paulo Branco: “He sort of committed auto-suicide here in Cannes. Océan Films here, the French distributors, were like, “F–k it, we’re still distributing the film.” It’s what happens. Paulo was sending all these letters out saying, “I own the film, it’s mine, you can’t show it.” And people—even those that don’t quite believe it—were worried. Once a guy starts suing, everybody just walks away. But I think the way Cannes stood up, and the way Océan has continued to stand up, has put steel into the backs of all the distributors now.”
  6. Now that it’s out, he does feel that the problems with the producer are in the past: “The triumph of this has been extraordinary. The way everybody stood up for it and said, ‘F–k off.’ And they’ve even taken away his protocol now. I’m told his booth in the market, Alfama Films, has been removed. I haven’t experienced it firsthand but I was told by two people that it happened. There’s a side of me I feel a tiny, tiny grain of sympathy—so small I can hardly find it—because he always announced himself as the guy who has made over 275 films, and that he’s always had more films in competition here than any other producer on the planet, and to self-immolate like he’s done with this, I have no idea. It’s a bit like Harvey in a sense; there’s a certain point where karma catches up, folks.”
  7. His life almost feels a little empty now that this film is finished, he admits:”And I have nothing in my life anymore [laughs]. It’s true, my mind is a blank now. There was always that thing where you’d look over and there was this old guy standing up going, “What about me?” It’s all gone. I’m wonderfully free. What that means, I don’t know yet. I haven’t been able to process it yet. It’s been so concentrated on this, and all the s–t we’ve been doing in the past few weeks. My problem is it’s always been a bit like this. I’m very monomaniacal. I have one thing, and then when that’s done I can start thinking about what’s next.”
  8. His experiences on The Man Who Killed Don Quixote have almost made him want to pack in filmmaking, he says: “Right now I have to process this and decipher whether I ever want to make a movie again [laughs]. But luckily my memory is so bad I forget all the s–t and remember the good bits, so I march off again like an idiot.”
  9. Despite all the problems, the message of the film is something positive: “It is a joyous film. That’s what I like about it. There’s no sign of the pain or the agony or any of that. That’s what I always wanted on my films. Forget about the maker or the making, does it exist in its own world if you’ve never heard anything about it? Will you enjoy it? Will you see something different? And it’s so strange because, even structurally, it’s an odd film. It’s many films, it really is. It shifts and changes.”
  10. Making the whole film was something very meta-textual for Gilliam, he reveals, as he was aware just how pivotal Adam Driver’s role was in it: “It was Amy, my daughter, who was producing it, who said, “You’ve got to meet this guy.” I don’t even know if I’d seen the Star Wars with him. I went and I met him and it was one of those totally instinctive moments. He’s not at all like an actor. He’s not a standard good-looking leading man. But I just knew it, even if I had no idea he would be as brilliant as he was. Every day he was coming in and being funnier and funnier. The movie was making itself, I was just holding on for dear life.”

Here’s the whole interview on Deadline

Deadline Terry Gilliam interview Man Who Killed Don Quixote

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