Some 17 years after he first started pre-production, Terry Gilliam has finally wrapped principal photography on The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, a project once so notoriously beleaguered and stuck in near-mythical “development hell” that a documentary was even made about it.
Starring Adam Driver, Jonathan Pryce, Stellan Skarsgard and Olga Kurylenko, the film – inspired by Miguel De Cervantes’ literary classic Don Quixote – has been shooting on location across Spain and Portugal, and tells the story of a deluded old man, convinced he is the famed horse-riding hero and who mistakes an advertising executive for his trusty squire, Sancho Panza.
Previous, unsuccessful, attempts to make the film saw names such as Johnny Depp, Ewan McGregor, Robert Duvall, Jack O’Connell and John Hurt attached.
“Don Quixote is a dreamer, an idealist and a romantic, determined not to accept the limitations of reality, marching on regardless of setbacks, as we have done,” said Gilliam. “We’ve been at it so long that the idea of actually finishing shooting this ‘clandestine’ film, is pretty surreal. Any sensible person would have given up years ago but sometimes pig-headed dreamers win in the end, so thank you to all of the ill paid fantasists and believers who have joined to make this longstanding dream a reality!”
However, the Gilliam’s Don Quixote curse may not be lifted just yet. In Cannes, just a year after the project was first unveiled to the market, French sales banner Alfama labeled the film “illegal,” with its CEO Paulo Branco telling The Hollywood Reporter that Gilliam had been working behind his back and that he – actually – had rights to the film.
In response, the film’s producers issued a statement asserting that Branco’s claims were “preposterous” and that they had been forced to sue him in four countries. “Senor Branco is tilting at windmills,” they added. “He has no rights whatsoever in Don Quixote.”
According to the release announcing the production wrap, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote is being produced by Gerardo Herrero, Mariela Besuievsky, Amy Gilliam, Tornasol Films, Kinology, Recorded Picture Company, Entre Chien et Loup and Ukbar Filmes in association with Alacran Pictures, and with the participation of TVE, Movistar +, Eurimages and Wallimage. Kinology is handling worldwide sales. Amazon Studios has acquired distribution rights for the US, Canada and the U.K., and Telemunchen for Germany and Austria.
By Alex Ritman