It sadly seems as if the film The Man Who Killed Don Quixote is cursed. Terry Gilliam has been attempting to make this film since 1998 and I admire his tenacity and his drive to get over the hurdle, but it seems as if obstacle after obstacle is truly standing in his way.
As seen in the documentary Lost In La Mancha, this seemingly cursed film had a rocky production and was cancelled shortly after Gilliam continually strived to get it done.
Gilliam first attempted to begin the project in November of 1998. In 2000, Gilliam was able to secure financial backing outside of America and casted the likes of Johnny Depp, Vanessa Paradis, Miranda Richardson, Christopher Eccleston, Pedro Almodovar, Rossy de Palma, and Jean Rochefort.
He begins to film in Spain that exact year, but everything falls to pieces pretty early on. Between a NATO airbase creating sound issues and a flood completely destroying the set, Jean Rochefort is bedridden in the hospital due to a severe back injury. Eventually, the production is canceled, as Rochefort cannot return to the production.
Production begins again, with Gilliam ready for a fresh, new start. Johnny Depp is still attached, and added to the cast is legendary Robert Duvall.
The now unavailable Johnny Depp is replaced with Ewan McGregor, but financing for the film yet again drops.
Gilliam mentions to Deadline how much of a hold this story has on him, claiming that
"Certain things just possess you and this has been like a demonic possession I have suffered through all these years. The very nature of Quixote is he’s going against reality, trying to say things aren’t what they are but how he interprets them. In a sense, there is an autobiographical aspect to the whole piece."
Gilliam also attempts to start the project up and film for the seventh time later this year in November, hoping lucky number seven performs some needed magic.
Recent Road Block
Most recently, it appeared as if things were looking up, as Amazon Studios had stepped in to back the picture, pushing for the cast and crew to start filming as early as next summer. Jack O'Connell and John Hurt were locked as the leads.
However, it seems as if everything has taken a turn for the worst.
John Hurt was unfortunately diagnosed with pancreatic cancer over this past summer. The 75-year-old actor is presently going through treatment, but he wants to give it a bit before completely writing off The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. Gilliam remains positive and hopeful.
Hurt, on the other hand, is feeling a tad bit more caustic.
"Terry seems very optimistic that we will start filming soon. Optimism is a good thing."
I have to admire Gilliam for continually pushing and overcoming the many obstacles that are thrown his way. I hope he can continue to persevere and finally get the chance to display his creation on the big screen someday soon.