It's honestly quite shocking when a long-gestating Terry Gilliam project actually happens, given the long list of ambitious ventures the Monty Python alum may never get to tackle (including, Good Omens and Man Who Killed Don Quixote). Hence, it's fair to file the announcement about Gilliam's The Zero Theorem moving forward under "surprising news of the day."
Zero Theorem is based on a script by little-known writer Pat Rushin; some three years ago, Billy Bob Thornton was starring, with the late legendary producer Richard D. Zanuck (The Sting, Jaws) backing the endeavor. Zanuck's son, Dean, has taken up the position left vacant by his father, while Oscar-winner Christoph Waltz (fresh off shooting for Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained) has replaced Thornton.
In Zero Theorem, Waltz plays an eccentric character (does he play any other kind?) named Qohen Leth, a reclusive computer genius who dedicates his time to solving the eponymous theorem - which will demonstrate once and for all whether or not life has a purpose (and what it is). The story setting recalls the dystopian world of Gilliam's sci-fi cult classic Brazil, which takes place within an Orwellian landscape - but is even more twisted, to better fit Gilliam's evolving storytelling sensibilities (somehow, they've become more unhinged over the past decade).
For example: Zero Theorem takes place in a world populated by computerized shrinks, sex-bots that offer “tantric biotelemetric interfacing," and cyber-suits that allow people to explore the realms of their own soul (which may or may not be real (?), as will be determined once the Zero Theorem is either proven or disproven).
Chances are good you understand now why Zero Theorem has been kept at bay for so long; judging by an early script review (hat tip to /Film), it reads like a Philip K. Dick story on steroids. Pre-production is nonetheless fully underway, in order to realize this fascinating tale of humanity's quest to grapple with questions about its own existence - in a world where technology has progressed so far as to (possibly) shatter the line between rationality and spirituality.
Voltage Pictures will handle worldwide sales for Zero Theorem at next month's Toronto International Film Festival, ahead of a planned October 22nd production start date at MediaPro Studios in Romania. It'll be near impossible to convince buyers that Gilliam's latest is a bankable venture, given the filmmaker's track record. One thing you can be certain of, though: Zero Theorem is one of the most visually and thematically trippy, original, movies on the horizon.
We'll keep you posted on any additional noteworthy developments concerning The Zero Theorem as more information is released.