Terry Gilliam: ‘Robin Williams was one of the most stunning people I’ve ever met’

Terry Gilliam: ‘Robin Williams was one of the most stunning people I’ve ever met’

In 2015, there was a false announcement of your death by Variety with the headline “Monty Python’s Terry Gilliam dies at XXX”. How were you informed of this news? From DoubleRDiner.

I came across it on the internet and was surprised to discover that I was supposedly deceased in a Vin Diesel movie. While I found it humorous, my family was more concerned about the news. My son went to work and his boss expressed sympathy for my supposed passing, unaware that it was fake. It seems they have pre-written obituaries for anyone remotely famous. The mistake was made by someone who must have accidentally hit a button. I promptly contacted my agent and lawyer to figure out what to do, but they were uninterested. I decided to reach out to Variety and explain the distress and suffering they caused my family. I may have slightly exaggerated the situation, mentioning that I had been on a plane while my wife and daughter were in France and my son was out of touch. This was all true, but I wanted to emphasize the emotional impact on my loved ones. In my letter, I pointed out that it’s one thing to read your own obituary, but it’s another to read a negative review of your work. As a bit of a joke, I suggested that since they were responsible for causing so much turmoil, it would be nice if they could offer me a case of Chateau Margaux. Eventually, they did send a case, but unfortunately it was from a bad year.

Did you and Quentin Tarantino have a conversation about you directing one of his screenplays? He considers you his champion and claims your directing advice was the most valuable he’s ever received. MarkFilmgoer

At the Sundance Institute, young filmmakers are paired with three older directors. When I read the script for Reservoir Dogs, I was extremely impressed. The other two directors, Stanley Donen and Volker Schlöndorff, did not understand the script. Quentin had already filmed a small scene, but it was too elaborate with too many angles. I advised him to surround himself with experienced and trustworthy individuals and to listen to their advice. It can make a huge difference. Now, Quentin is incredibly successful and famous, and I can’t even reach him on the phone. I enjoy watching his movies and believe he is incredibly talented, but I don’t think we would make a good team because of our different personalities.

Terry Gilliam, Neil Innes, Eric Idle and Terry Jones with a large scarf wrapped round the four of themView image in fullscreen

Can you still stand by your preference for Stanley Kubrick over Steven Spielberg, citing the impactful conclusion of 2001: A Space Odyssey versus the feel-good ending of Schindler’s List? Also, which ending do you believe is your most successful creation? From Jamester.

I believe there is no comparison. Kubrick possessed an exceptional mind and delved deeply into various subjects. He was not afraid to explore dark themes. In contrast, Spielberg can be seen as the Norman Rockwell of film, with his brilliance and the comforting feeling his movies provide. However, I do not agree with this viewpoint. Filmmaking is about leaving the audience with questions and making them think. While my movies are usually comedic, they do not provide the same reassurance as a Spielberg film. In fact, my most recent film, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, has the happiest ending out of all my films.

According to popular belief, Die Hard is often classified as a Christmas film due to its holiday setting and festive elements. By the same reasoning, could Brazil also be considered a Christmas movie? – NickLockey

Due to the abundance of Christmas shopping, they are purchasing presents for all the executives. This is a film set during Christmas time, but it may not be a cheerful one.

How was the experience of collaborating with Hunter S Thompson for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Robin Williams for The Fisher King, and Heath Ledger for The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus? JimmyCigarettes, Sagarmatha1953, and Prestonian79.

The making of Fear and Loathing was a complex experience as both Johnny [Depp] and I were concerned about Hunter’s potential disappointment. The most difficult day on set was when Hunter made an appearance, as he demanded all the focus be on him. He even resorted to throwing bread rolls at me at one point.

Terry Gilliam (right) on the set of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Display the image in full screen mode.

After some time, the moment arrived when he found himself in the Matrix nightclub scene. It was a crowded scene and we were running behind schedule. His role was simply to sit at a table and Johnny would walk by, only to do a double take when he realized he had just passed the person he was portraying. That was all. Hunter kept insisting, “As a journalist, I wouldn’t be sitting at that table. It’s too prominent. I’d prefer to be on the outskirts.” However, we had already set up the scene. The producer, Johnny, and I were all trying to coax Hunter Thompson back on set like a stubborn sheep.

I was able to achieve success by selecting the most attractive extra, a female, and placing her at the table. Eventually, Hunter joined her and engaged in conversation, but he was too preoccupied to look at the right time. It took multiple attempts before he finally focused, allowing us to capture the shot and leave before exceeding our budget.

I adored Robin. He was simply exceptional. During the filming of The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, despite the budget going overboard, Robin enthusiastically agreed to be a part of it and brought so much joy to the set. Most of what he said was improvised. Although we had a script, he would often deviate from it and it was hilarious. In The Fisher King, Jeff Bridges acted as an anchor to keep Robin and I grounded and prevent us from getting too carried away with laughter. Robin had an incredible amount of energy. It was truly amazing. He was one of the most remarkable individuals I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.

Heath was the best – such a great actor. He constantly found new ways of dealing with the scene. His death during the middle of Doctor Parnassus is still one of the most painful moments of my life. Heath was going to be the biggest star on the planet and then this absurdly tragic death stopped all of that. I still miss him.

Do you truly enjoy eating baked beans? Chappy82

I never consider baked beans! This was a quote from Mike Palin in Time Bandits. In a Python sketch, I am seen lying on my back, indulging in baked beans. I am unsure why baked beans seem to be drawn to me. It is not something I choose.

What is your dream film project, given full creative freedom, casting options, and unlimited resources?

I may not excel at making a film without any limitations. Having unlimited options can be overwhelming and draining. While I don’t enjoy being confined, having the freedom to choose my actors and have complete control over my films satisfies me. Having more financial resources may improve my previous works, but it’s possible that being short on funds actually fuels my creativity and leads to better ideas.

What type of Python was used in the raspberry scene at the end of the opening credits? It was arguably the most impressive raspberry ever recorded. I suspect it was you, Jimd and ComfortEagle.

I am the one responsible for making tongue fart sounds as my profession. The years I spent working with Python were the most enjoyable, as we had a lot of creative freedom. While others would write sketches, I was given the freedom to create animations for our show. This allowed me to seamlessly transition between sketches, and often surprised my colleagues on the day of the show when I brought in my films.

“Are you someone who enjoys drawing, painting, or making art for your personal enjoyment?” NLewisEditor

Currently, I only create drawings for birthday, Valentine’s, and anniversary cards for my family. However, the anticipation of a birthday approaching always motivates me to put in a lot of effort. I must come up with a unique and relevant idea for each card.

Which is better for showcasing the basics of slapstick comedy: stuffing a whole banana in your mouth or getting hit with a custard pie? (I thought you got the short end of the stick at the Hollywood Bowl). VerulamiumParkRanger

I was fortunate enough to receive the banana, which was a healthy option. Unfortunately, the others were stuck with the horrible pie.

Source: theguardian.com