All the way back in October of 2000, Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote began production with Johnny Depp starring as an inadvertent time-traveler, whom the adventurous madman Don Quixote mistakes for Sancho Panza. The project fell apart soon thereafter and became a cautionary tale about the live-action filmmaking process (as detailed in the documentary Lost in La Mancha). It has yet to be made, despite Gilliam’s multiple attempts over the past decade.
That’s all a preamble to say: Depp is once again working on a non-traditional Don Quixote-related movie, but it has nothing to do with Gilliam’s defunct passion project (sadly).
Deadline is reporting that Disney has acquired a pitch for a movie “best described as a modern re-imagining of Don Quixote.” Depp is producing through his Infinitum Nihil banner with Christi Dembrowski. However, under further notice, there’s been no indication that the man who gave us Edward Scissorhands and
Barnabas Collins Captain Jack Sparrow plans to headline the project; though, a brief appearance could be in order (a la Depp’s cameo in Hugo, which he co-produced through IN).
On that note: what, exactly, should we expect from a project “best described” as a modern Don Quixote? Well, it could revolve around a disillusioned person from the 21st century, who decides to (literally) revive the chivalrous lifestyle of a knight; then again, it might amount to a Secret Life of Walter Mitty-esque tale about an average guy who merges his noble imagined life and mundane existence. Either of those options sounds like the sort of movie that Depp could go for; not to mention, could be the best consolation prize for not getting to make Man Who Killed Don Quixote. So, best to not completely discount him as a star just yet.
Depp and Disney’s project is being co-scripted by Steve Pink, the co-writer of Gross Pointe Blank and director of Hot Tub Time Machine. Pink’s script collaborator is Jeff Morris, who also penned The True Memoirs of an International Assassin – a screenplay that made Hollywood’s Black List of best un-produced works and has Pink attached to direct (assuming a studio eventually picks it up).
Here is the International Assassin logline (via IMDb):
After a publisher changes a writer’s debut novel about a deadly assassin from fiction to nonfiction, the author finds himself thrust into the world of his lead character, and must take on the role of his character for his own survival.
Could Pink and Morris’ script for a modern Don Quixote re-imagining amount to a similar meta-fiction tale that incorporates elements of International Assassin – since the latter is collecting dust right now? After all, Adam Cozad is reported to have done as much with his own Black Listed spec script Dubai, which he borrowed from while crafting the initial script draft for the Jack Ryan reboot. Of course, that is pure speculation at this stage, so take it with a healthy grain of salt.
More on Depp and Disney’s Don Quixote project as the story develops.