According to an exclusive report from Empire, Ewan McGregor will play the lead role in director Terry Gilliam’s long-awaited film, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. McGregor is taking over the part from Johnny Depp, who was attached to the film during its ill-fated production in 2000 (the subject of which is the excellent documentary, Lost in La Mancha).
Empire confirmed the decision with Gilliam during this year’s Cannes Film Festival. On casting McGregor for the part, Gilliam said:
“Ewan has gotten better over the years. He was wonderful in The Ghost. There’s a lot of colours to Ewan that he’s not been showing recently and it’s time for him to show them again. He’s got a great sense of humour and he’s a wonderful actor. He’s wonderfully boyish and can be charming – when he flashes a smile, everybody melts. He wields it like a nuclear bomb!”
In previous scripts for the film, McGregor’s character is Tony Grisoni, an advertising executive who is transported back in time to the 1700’s where he meets Don Quixote (played by Robert Duvall). During the movie, Grisoni comes to fill the traditional role of Sancho Panza. Interestingly, in a recent interview Duvall revealed his character isn’t really Don Quixote, but rather a Latin shoemaker cast as Quixote for a TV commercial who then believes he’s the real thing.
This type of twisting plot is standard fare for Gilliam, who has made his mark in Hollywood with his unconventional narratives and flair for inventive visual storytelling. Unfortunately, this time around Gilliam will have less money to experiment with. In addition to discussing his casting decision, Gilliam also revealed to Empire that his film only had a budget of $20 million, $15 million less than he had in 2000.
Terry Gilliam is one of my favorite directors and I have been interested in The Man Who Killed Don Quixote for years. While I’m a big admirer of Johnny Depp, and I believe he and Gilliam have a great history together, I’m not sad to see him replaced. With Pirates of the Caribbean 4 on the horizon, it was unreasonable to expect him to be able to squeeze in time for the film and Ewan McGregor is an excellent actor in his own right. If he hadn’t decided to reject the part, I think Colin Farrell also would have done a good job as well.
It’s no wonder some people actually think The Man Who Killed Don Quixote is cursed; the movie has been in some form of production for well over 10 years now. With McGregor now on board, I can only hope that Gilliam’s vision will be brought to life once and for all. We’ll see how filming goes when the it starts production this September.
What do you think of Ewan McGregor as the lead in this film? Is The Man Who Killed Don Quixote cursed, or will the movie finally come together?