FRANCE: Director Terry Gilliam premieres "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" in CannesRecord ID: 385057
- Title: FRANCE: Director Terry Gilliam premieres "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" in Cannes
- Date: 23rd May 2009
- Summary: CANNES, FRANCE (MAY 22, 2009) (REUTERS) DIRECTOR TERRY GILLIAM GETTING OUT OF CAR PHOTOGRAPH OF ACTOR VERNE TROYER GILLIAM AND ACTRESS LILY COLE WALKING UP STEPS
- Reuters ID: LVAB90KNKIG6BVP3PCJAMZXVAC4S
- Location: France
- Country: France
- Duration: 00:00:27
- Story Text: Australian actor Heath Ledger's final performance before he died of an accidental overdose in January 2008 nearly never made it to the big screen, U.S.-born director Terry Gilliam said on Friday (May 22).
The film maker's first thought when Ledger died in New York was to ditch "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus," which was only half finished.
But encouraged by people around him to continue, and helped by actors Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell who played Ledger's character in three separate dream sequences, Gilliam eventually completed the movie.
Gilliam told reporters at the Cannes film festival that he nearly closed the production down, where the out-of-competition movie has its world premiere.
Instead Gilliam decided to use three actors rather than one to complete the role of Tony, made possible because they appear in a land of the imagination entered through a magic mirror.
"I was basically just calling people who I knew loved Heath, it had to be the nature of what we are doing, and we ended up with Colin and Jude and Johnny taking on the part, so it was quite extraordinary. Everybody in the cast and everybody in the crew was determined that this film would be finished and everybody worked longer, harder, and somehow we got through. But I think really it was people's love for Heath that propelled this thing forward," he explained.
Gilliam praised Ledger, who won a posthumous Oscar for his performance as the Joker in Batman blockbuster "The Dark Knight," for his enthusiasm and energy on set.
"Everybody was energised by Heath's - by Heath. He was extraordinary, he was almost exhausting to deal with because he had so much energy and he was always coming up with new ideas every minute and it was a joy to watch this part just blossom - it was much more extraordinary than what we had written. And that just passed on to everybody else - everybody's part grew because they were full of Heath's energy," said Gilliam.
Ledger plays Tony, who is found hanging from a bridge in London but is revived by Anton and Valentina, members of a horse-drawn travelling theatre which has the power to allow people to walk into a world of their dreams.
Christopher Plummer stars as Doctor Parnassus, a man who has lived for centuries after making a pact with the devil, performed by Tom Waits.
The devil plans to take away his daughter Valentina when she turns 16, but gives Parnassus one last chance to save her.
The action moves from the streets of London and inside the rickety old wagon to fantastical, special effects-laden landscapes that represent people's imaginations.
Ledger's family, who Gilliam said supported him completing the film, have yet to see it.
The film premieres in Cannes on Friday (May 22).
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