Nearly a decade after a first attempt at the project, Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote is sadly not much closer to being finished.
Though pre-production on a new version of the film has been ongoing since last year, and Robert Duvall has been officially cast as Quixote (sort of), casting and financial obstacles continue to keep Gilliam fans from seeing this long-gestating film based on the classic Miguel de Cervantes novel.
The latest update comes from Duvall, who spoke to Movieline about the film, its legendarily cursed director (“he’s a wacko”) and Colin Farrell (a.k.a. “the Irish guy who was in Crazy Heart“), who apparently turned down the chance rework with Gilliam (following his assist as a Heath Ledger stand-in for The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus) and play Duvall’s sidekick, Sancho Panza (sort of).
With the original choice, Johnny Depp, unavailable, Duvall would like the role to go to someone who’s like a young Danny DeVito. But in order to get the money, Gilliam needs a star. Duvall went on to reveal the status of the casting process along with other developments:
“He’s going after two people now, but he doesn’t want to say who they are until after he gets them. But it’s been six months he’s been after people. And it’s a bigger budget than his others. And he doesn’t stick to a budget, they say. He goes on and on. And he’s got locations picked out in Spain. So it’ll be very exciting.”
The Oscar-winner looks forward to preparing for his role, which will entail riding horseback every day. But he says he can’t start on that until Don Quixote is really greenlit. Duvall claims that his character in the film is a Latin village shoemaker cast to portray Quixote in a TV commercial who then believes he’s the real (well, fictional) delusional attacker of windmills.
Does this mean that he also travels through time, like the screenwriter character Toby Grisoni, who ends up mistaken for Panza? Never mind. If you’re confused, you’re in the same boat as Duvall:
“I don’t even understand the script, totally, because he’s just so out there, Gilliam. You know, with dwarfs on the ground and everything. I told him, ‘You can’t have too many dwarfs!’ [Laughs] But it was nice. We spent half an afternoon talking, and then he went on.”
Gilliam apparently cast Duvall after seeing the actor play a Cuban barber in Wrestling Ernest Hemingway. As for reciprocal familiarity, Duvall admits to having seen Lost in La Mancha, the heartbreaking documentary that came out of the filmmaker’s first attempt to make The Man Who Killed Don Quixote with Depp and Jean Rochefort back in 2000.
Let’s hope that that Gilliam finds his Grisoni/Panza soon, so that Duvall can get back in the saddle and we can look forward to finally seeing The Man Who Killed Don Quixote whenever (I don’t want to say “if ever,” but it’s not inappropriate given Gilliam’s track record) it hits theaters.
Do you have any preferences for who should co-star with Duvall?