In the documentary, The Hamster Factor and Other Tales of Twelve Monkeys, director Terry Gilliam said his life often takes on the shape of the movie he is making. This is certainly true of The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, a film he’s been trying to make for nearly twenty years. Originally starring Johnny Depp as an marketing executive thrust back to 17th Century Spain and ending up the sidekick of Miguel de Cervantes‘ Don Quixote, the film ran into a series of disasters before it was scrapped in 1998.
As seen in the documentary Lost in La Mancha, Gilliam faced constant fighter planes over his locations, a flash flood ruining his sets and the loss of his Don Quixote, actor Jean Rochefort, to a herniated disc which forced him to withdraw from the part. Production was scrapped and the film’s insurance company seized the screenplay and the existing footage from Gilliam, but he eventually regained control of the project. Gilliam has been trying to remount the film ever since. Recently, Gilliam announced the film was back on with funding from Amazon Studios and John Hurt replacing Rochefort as Quixote. Jack O’Connell was also announced to take the place of Depp.
Now The Times (via Indiewire) reports Hurt’s recent cancer diagnosis has put the breaks on the project again. It’s given the film’s insurance underwriters pause — not without reason, of course — but Hurt, 75, tells the Times “Terry seems very optimistic that we will start filming soon. Optimism is a good thing.”
The Man Who Killed Don Quixote may eventually be released should it ever actually get made.