Jack O’Connell, star of Angelina Jolie’s upcoming WWII survival tale Unbroken, is set to headline Terry Gilliam’s long-gestating passion project Don Quixote, which Variety reports will begin shooting in the spring for an expected May 2016 release.
Although not mentioned in the article, John Hurt is expected to portray Miguel de Cervantes’ title hero in some form or another, taking over the role from previously-mooted Robert Duvall. Derbyshire native Hurt told Daily Mail last month of O’Connell’s potential casting, saying, “Jack’s Derbyshire born and bred, so it will be fun to work with him.”
As chronicled in the documentary Lost in La Mancha, Gilliam had previously attempted to shoot The Man Who Killed Don Quixote in late 2000 with Johnny Depp playing an ad man named Toby Grosini who is somehow transported back in time and becomes Sancho Panza to a delusional Don Quixote. Filming was plagued by difficulties, including Quixote actor Jean Rochefort falling ill, and eventually abandoned. Years of legal wrangling to get the rights back left Depp unwilling to return, with actors such as Ewan McGregor considered for the lead.
Here’s the synopsis for Gilliam’s revised vision: A modern and satirical twist on the tale, ‘Don Quixote’ stars O’Connell as Toby, a jaded commercials director who travels to Spain for a shoot and comes across a gypsy who gives a copy of his student film – a lyrical re-working of the Don Quixote story set in a quaint old Spanish village. Moved by the discovery, Toby sets off on a bizarre road trip to find the little village where the student student film was shot and gets caught up in a series of catastrophies.
“Seven is my lucky number so lets break the curse and make it!,” said Gilliam of his seventh attempt to make Don Quixote.
“We believe this film will capture the essence of everything audiences loved in Gilliams unforgettable masterpieces such as ‘Brazil,’ ‘Time Bandits’ and ‘The Adventures of Baron Munchausen,'” said executive producer Gregoire Melin (“Cosmopolis”), who is handling pre-sales at AFM.
The original 2000 version’s screenwriter Tony Grisoni, who wrote Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, Tideland and (uncredited) The Brothers Grimm with Gilliam, is still credited with the script. Adrian Guerra (Buried, Grand Piano) at Nostromo Pictures is producing.
O’Connel recently had a supporting role in the blockbuster 300: Rise of an Empire, while Gilliam’s The Zero Theorem is still playing in select theaters and on VOD.
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