Poor, poor Terry Gilliam. I don’t believe in curses or jinxes of any kind, but if I did, he’d probably top the list of people who I think have some kind of curse upon their head. Variety is reporting that Gilliam’s latest attempt at making a Don Quixote movie has fallen through yet again, this time because the financiers have backed out. It’s sad, but the thing is: I can’t really blame them. The last time Gilliam tried to adapt Cervantes’ story of the mad knight and his squire was in 2000, with Jean Rochefort starring as Quixote and Johnny Depp playing the Sancho Panza role, but right away the production was plagued with problems. On the first day of the shoot, the location that had been picked was proved unusable due to constant loud noises from a NATO airbase nearby. The second day of shooting yielded a flash flood. Then the star Jean Rochefort fell ill and almost died. And no, I’m not making any of this up.
Following Heath Ledger’s death during the filming of Gilliam’s latest movie The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, stars Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell stepped in to help finance and complete the movie as a tribute to Ledger. The success of completing a film for the first time in almost a decade must have had an inspirational effect on Gilliam, because in early 2009 pre-production on The Man Who Killed Don Quixote restarted, this time with Robert Duvall as Quixote and Ewan Macgregor in a supporting role. And lo, everything has come full-circle, because once again the production is having problems. When asked about the project at the Deauville American Film Festival, Gilliam said, “The financing collapsed about a month and a half ago. I shouldn’t be here. The plan was to be shooting ‘Quixote’ right now.”