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Terry Gilliam Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trade Mark (8) | Trivia (25) | Personal Quotes (36)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 22 November 1940Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
Birth NameTerence Vance Gilliam
Nickname Captain Chaos
Height 5' 9" (1.75 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Terry Gilliam was born in Minnesota near Medicine Lake. When he was 12 his family moved to Los Angeles where he became a fan of Mad magazine. In his early 20's he was often stopped by the police who often suspected him of being a drug addict and Gilliam had to explain that he worked in advertisement. Gilliam said these experiences made him understand how it was like to be Black or Mexican and gave him sympathy for the poor. In the political turmoil in the 60's, Gilliam feared he might develop into a terrorist and decided to leave the USA. After moving to England he landed a job on the children's television show Do Not Adjust Your Set as an animator. There he would meet his future collaborators in Monty Python: Terry Jones, Eric Idle and Michael Palin. In 2006 he renounced his American citizenship.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: BomberX

Spouse (1)

Maggie Weston (1973 - present) (3 children)

Trade Mark (8)

Was first known for the bizarre animation sequences in Monty Python's Flying Circus (1969) using cutout pictures and photographs.
Heroes in his films often dream of a woman who they have not yet met, but will meet during the course of the film. In the dream, the woman's face is obscured.
Often features people/animals bursting through walls or ceilings
Often begins and ends his films with the same shot
Heavy use of wide angle lenses
[Television monitors] They were in Brazil (1985), Twelve Monkeys (1995), The Fisher King (1991), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) and Time Bandits (1981).
Dutch tilt shots

Trivia (25)

Founding editor of and principal contributor to campus humor magazine, "Fang", at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA in the early 1960s.
He started to direct "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote" in 2001 (in Spain) with Johnny Depp, Vanessa Paradis and Jean Rochefort but the shooting was unfortunately stopped a couple of days after it started because of numerous factors including storms, lack of financing, and Jean Rochefort's health problems (he couldn't ride a horse any more). There is a documentary based on the struggle in production entitled "lost in la mancha".
During the filming of Brazil (1985) he became so stressed that he temporarily lost the use of his legs, which only returned to normal several weeks later.
Has taken British citizenship.
Father of Amy Gilliam, Holly DuBois Gilliam and Harry Gilliam.
J.K. Rowling, creator of the "Harry Potter" book series, originally wanted Gilliam to direct Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001), but Warner Brothers studios wanted a more family friendly film and eventually settled for Chris Columbus.
Turned down the opportunity to direct Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), Enemy Mine (1985), and Forrest Gump (1994) and Alien: Resurrection (1997).
Has been off and on to write and direct a movie adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons's graphic novel "Watchmen." Gilliam has said he attempted to write an accurate screenplay but it would be unfilmable, but he would consider directing it if it were made into 10 or 12-part cable television series.
Was slated to direct an adaptation of the novel "Good Omens" by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. The project languished in development for three years before finally being abandoned.
Directed a series of TV ads for Nike in 2001. They were part of The Scorpion Knockout Campaign, which featured some of the best soccer players on the globe. That campaign went to win a Cannes award in 2002, in the category of Best TV Campaign.
Also turned down directing Braveheart (1995), when briefly solicited by Mel Gibson to direct an abandoned film version of Charles Dickens's "A Tale of Two Cities".
Member of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 2001.
Raised in Los Angeles.
He did not originally intend to cast Sean Connery as King Agamemnon in Time Bandits (1981), he merely wrote in the screenplay that when Agamemnon took off his helmet that he looked "exactly like Sean Connery." To Gilliam's surprise, the script found its way into Connery's hands and Connery subsequently expressed interest in doing the film.
Born in Minnesota, he is the only non-British member of the Monty Python comedy troupe
The Fisher King (1991) was the first film that he directed in which he was not involved in writing the screenplay.
He and John Cleese are the only members of 'Monty Python' to be nominated for Oscars. Coincidentally, they were both for Best Original Screenplay, Gilliam for Brazil (1985) and Cleese for A Fish Called Wanda (1988). Both screenplays did not win their Oscars, and both films featured Michael Palin.
Gave up his US citizenship in January 2006. [source: Haaretz interview, Feb. 2006].
Was offered the chance to direct Troy (2004). He stopped reading the script 5 pages in and declined the offer.
Is a fan of science fiction author Philip K. Dick.
Member of the comedy group "Monty Python" along with John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Eric Idle and Graham Chapman. Gilliam also created the animations.
Four of his films are in the Criterion Collection - Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), The Fisher King (1991), Brazil (1985), and Time Bandits (1981).
As of 2010, has directed three actors in Oscar-nominated roles; Brad Pitt (Twelve Monkeys (1995)), Robin Williams, and Mercedes Ruehl (The Fisher King (1991)). Ruehl won her Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.
As a result of renouncing his American citizenship, he is only permitted to spend 29 days a year in the United States, considerably less than the average U.K. Citizen.
Was J.K. Rowling's first choice to direct the 'Harry Potter' films.

Personal Quotes (36)

There's a side of me that always fell for manic things, frenzied, cartoony performances. I always liked sideshows, freakshows. Jerry Lewis was a freakshow...Absolutely grotesque, awful, tasteless. I like things to be tasteless.
People in Hollywood are not showmen, they're maintenance men, pandering to what they think their audiences want.
To be deemed to be OK, to be part of the culture, that's the kiss of death. When I'm pushing against something it helps me define what I believe. I've always been led to see what's beyond, what's round the corner. The world tries to say that this is what it is, and don't go any further, because out there are monsters. But I want to see what they are. So when I talk about the others in the group not having done more, that's because I really admire them, and I get angry when I see those with extraordinary talents not using them.
I am getting tired of these fights [with backers.] Each time you get into a fight the world closes in a bit. You start losing an innocence, a belief that everything is possible. Terry Jones thinks I'm belligerent and egotistical, and that I've got to get into a fight to keep me going. It does keep me awake. But I limit it to the fights that are worth it nowadays.
All I do is hunt. I want to be thrilled. And I'm not being thrilled at the moment. So I'm being old and bitter and curmudgeonly, because I want sensory buzz and I'm not getting it!
I think I've got a certain talent and I don't know how to defend it. So I end up defending it more vociferously than it may need, but I always feel under threat. It's a basic in-built paranoia. When people start interfering, I go a little bit crazy.
Hollywood is run by small-minded people who like chopping the legs off creative people. All they want to do is say no.
I do want to say things in these films. I want audiences to come out with shards stuck in them. I don't care if people love my films or walk out, as long as they have a strong response.
My problem is I'm like a junkie. I want a good movie fix, and I never get that fix. I want to be taken into some place, some world, some idea that I haven't thought of or imagined. And it doesn't happen.
It happens with every film. There comes a part where the money and the creative elements all come crashing together. Everybody's under a lot of pressure, and everybody is panicking about what works and what doesn't. And the studios and the money always have one perspective and the creative people have another one, and usually what happens is a lot of compromises get made.
(on future use of CGI in his films) "Nooo! Leave that to George Lucas, he' s really mastered the CGI acting. That scares me! I hate it! Everybody is so pleased and excited by it. Animation is animation. Animation is great. But it's when you're now taking what should be films full of people, living thinking, breathing, flawed creatures and you're controlling every moment of that, it's just death to me. It's death to cinema, I can't watch those Star Wars films, they're dead things."
Whether I like it or not, or whether anybody else does, when I start a film I have a few ideas. And as you're getting into it, you think, 'Ooh, there's another idea,' and you're shooting some more and, 'Oh, here's another thing. Let's do that.' I'm always changing and adding. That's just the way my mind works.
Everybody has their opinion and some people are wrong. One of the things I enjoy about my films is that children really love them. They are open-minded. As we get older we seem to close in. We limit the size of the world we limit everything about it. We have to break that shell open sometimes and (The Brothers Grimm) is just a desperate attempt to do so.
"My main concern is to protect the film, and sometimes even I can get in the way of the film. If I'm causing a problem for the ultimate film, then I've got to be stopped, and I tell this to everybody who works with me. They find it hard to believe, but they finally do say, 'Terry, you can't do it.'
I think there's a side of me that's trying to compete with Lucas and Spielberg - I don't usually admit this publicly - because I tend to think that they only go so far, and their view of the world is rather simplistic. What I want to do is take whatever cinema is considered normal or successful at a particular time and play around with it - to use it as a way of luring audiences in.
The more successful I get, the more the onus of having to get it right wants to settle on my shoulders alone, but I just hate that, I freeze up. I want everyone to share my responsibility, the guilt, and I'll shoulder the blame, because that's my job in the end.
It's hard for me to worry about the studios losing money. I'm not very sympathetic to their money problems, because they certainly haven't been sympathetic to mine.
In the end, people have to learn to live together. That is what I didn't like about America - it is so homogeneous. I like places where there are people who are different culturally, physically, in every way. And I like to see how they succeed in living together.
While filming The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009): We were devastated. We spent the whole day - Amy Gilliam, Nicola Pecorini, the director of photography, and myself - lying flat on the floor. Heath Ledger's dead, and you don't quite get over that. I suppose I'm in an interesting position because while I'm cutting the film I'm basically working with him every day and he's fine; he's in good shape.

Ideas are floating around. Then finally we decided, 'OK, let's get three other people to take over the part'. And we were lucky because we have a magic mirror in this movie. Not every movie has a magic mirror. So you can very genuinely say that these other actors are different aspects of the character that Heath plays. And it works. The point was, we've got to keep going. It was a bit like half being there, but apparently on autopilot I can still do a few things.
Nobody went to see Tideland (2005)! I was hoping people would get angry about it but those that saw it didn't want to talk about it. This is the world we're living in, people don't want to discuss things that are actually worth discussing.
The reason why I don't watch as many as I used to is that I'm not surprised any more. I loved movies because they opened up doors into worlds I never imagined. It seldom happens now.
On his conflict with Universal over Brazil (1985): The first thing was that they wanted a happy ending. Then they decided that the theme of the film was 'love conquers all'. So they started cutting out all the fantasy stuff.

It's one thing to argue about whether you need that scene or whether it can be a bit shorter. It's another to say, 'Let's tell a different story'. And at that point I said, 'Whoa, it's time to go to war'.

The [Hollywood] studio's mentality is that Americans are stupid. They try to lower the standard as much as they can to reach what they think is this great dumb audience. And I have always resisted that and wanted to believe in the audience's intelligence. But if you keep feeding people baby food for long enough they begin to like it.
I won't be getting an Academy Award - I'll predict that - ever. And somehow, my life will be no less for that!
I've always liked gossip, gossip is fun, but whether you believe it or not is something else, and yet the web seems to want to believe. The web doesn't distinguish between what's playful and serious. And the speed! What is happening in the web, and all the tweeters tweeting, they become neurons. They are the neurons of the global village. Village is the right word because the village is where the gossip is taking place, it doesn't take place in the cities. A piece of information comes into that little neuron - whoop - and they've immediately got to pass it across the synaptic gap... a big leap into the next neuron... - [he makes a rocket sound] - Whoosh! And off it goes! Off it goes into the next neuron. We're watching the brain in action, worldwide. The brain is a very simple thing, and the web is the neural structure of our brains, I'm convinced of it.

... See, Hollywood was always like that. Agents have to be available 24 hours a day, because they are the neurons of the system and whatever information hits them, they're off to the next one with that information, there's no secrets in Hollywood... -- on the advancement of gossip on the web
I find that what I do is reactive, so if I'm living in London I'm angry most of the time about the state of the world. When I go to Italy I get all blissful. I've never done any creative work there except building stone walls. I just wander around looking at birds and leaves. It's peace. -- on his house in Italy
The first subversive thing I did was in junior high school, when I was "head of ground patrol" - in other words the local cop. There was a long corridor, and someone was running down it. I was talking to my friend and it was one of those moments, I just put my foot out and he tripped and went flying. I don't know why I did it. I think I didn't like the guy. There was something about the way he was running - I thought, what an asshole.
It depends who you talk to. If you talk to people who have worked with me, they'll say, he's the right guy to work with, he knows what he's doing, responsible... If you talk to Hollywood, they think catastrophes, disasters - he's a magnet for trouble.' If it's easy, I don't do it; if it's almost impossible, I'll have a go. -- on what others in the business say of him
I thought this one would be a piece of cake, to get 25 million with Heath Ledger on board (for 'The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus'). You would think that there's intelligent life in Hollywood. But then you discover that there's just fear. People are frightened of making decisions or even having - I hate to use the word "vision", but they lack all of that. Hollywood is run by Goldman Sachs and not by entrepreneurs or studio people. It's the bankers who look at the numbers, and Tideland, my previous film, made very little money, and Heath did even worse with a film called Candy. And that's what they look at. Somehow the whole place has been taken over by middle management, like the rest of the Western world. And bureaucracy has settled in very comfortably.
For me, the only reason to try and make my films successful is that it will be more likely that I'll get the next project off the ground.
(on finishing The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (2011)): If you're going to play with Quixote you really got to play with Quixote. And those were windmills that came along. Those were giants, they killed us once but we're going to come back. Everybody says 'Oh, forget about it, put it in the past. Move on.' No, I won't because that all sounds so reasonable and I don't think films should be reasonable. The business we're in is about exciting people, stimulating people, doing things, changing them, outraging them -- it's not a reasonable business. Especially when you're spending the gross national product of a country to make a silly movie -- this is not reasonable.
(on Jeff Bridges) If it were up to me, I would cast Jeff in every movie I make. He is that good, such a joy to work with too. He has a large fan base as well, but these guys are real cult-fans, they are dedicated, but they don't run around screaming at premieres for "more Jeff Bridges!". The studios, they don't get this. They don't think he's bankable at all, but he is. It's frustrating, I think, but so very typical.
Cinemoi is the most important television channel in Britain.
My life is about waiting for money. My life isn't about filmmaking -- that's not what I do. It feels incidental to what I do, which is hunt for the money, cast movies and re-cast them and try to get projects going or stop them from falling apart. I spend my whole time repressing everything inside of me until I get the money to work, and then I just go. I'm on autopilot until I get the chance to go on a set.
[on current Hollywood blockbuster movies] You just sit there and watch the explosions. I couldn't tell you what the movie was about. The movie hammers the audience into submission. They are influenced by video games, but in video games at least you are immersed; in these movies you are left out. In films, there's so much overt fantasy now that I don't watch a lot because everything is possible now. There's no tension there. People can slide down the side of a building that's falling and they don't get ripped to shreds? The shots are amazing, but if there is no consequence, no gravity, what's the point? I can't watch Hollywood movies anymore. There's no room for me.
[on filmmaking]: So we create a world that isn't true to a realistic naturalistic world, but is truthful.
[on voting as a member of AMPAS] I just vote for my friends, or do it whimsically, or out of spite in some cases.

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