Terry Gilliam

Terry Gilliam

Infobox Actor
name = Terry Gilliam

birthdate = birth date and age|1940|11|22
birthplace = Medicine Lake, Minnesota
birthname = Terrence Vance Gilliam
yearsactive = 1967 - present
spouse = Maggie Weston (1973-)
occupation = screenwriter, actor, animator, director, producer
baftaawards = Special Award
1969 "Monty Python's Flying Circus"
awards = Empire Award for Best Director
1996 "Twelve Monkeys"
LAFCA Award for Best Director
1985 "Brazil"
LAFCA Award for Best Screenplay
1985 "Brazil"
Silver Lion
1991 "The Fisher King"

Terrence Vance Gilliam (born 22 November 1940) is an American-born British writer, filmmaker, animator and member of the Monty Python comedy troupe. He has the distinction of being the only American-born Python, as the rest of the group are all native Britons. Gilliam is known as the most creatively artistic member of Monty Python, directing several well-regarded films including "Brazil" (1985), "Twelve Monkeys" (1995) and "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" (1998).


Early life

Gilliam was born in Medicine Lake, Minnesota. His father was a traveling salesman for Folgers before becoming a carpenter. Gilliam has two siblings: a sister two years younger, and a brother ten years younger.

The family moved to California because of his sister's bout of pneumonia, and Terry Gilliam enrolled into Birmingham High School. He became class president, senior Prom King, was voted "Most Likely to Succeed," and got straight As. During high school, he discovered "Mad magazine", which was then edited by Harvey Kurtzman; this later influenced his work.

When Gilliam graduated from high school, he attended Occidental College, at first studying physics, then switching to fine arts before finally majoring in political science. Gilliam contributed to the college magazine, "Fang", becoming the editor during his junior year and turning it into a tribute to Kurtzman, to whom he later sent copies. While in college, Gilliam was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. After finishing college, Gilliam worked briefly for an advertising agency before Kurtzman offered him a job at "Help! magazine".

Later life

Gilliam has been married to the British make-up and costume designer Maggie Weston (who worked on "Flying Circus", many of the Python movies and Gilliam's movies up to "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen") since 1973. The two have had three children, Amy (b. 1978), Holly (b. 1980), and Harry (b. 1988), who have also appeared in several of Gilliam's films.

In 1968, Gilliam obtained British citizenship and held a dual American and British citizenship for 38 years. In January 2006, he renounced his American citizenship [ [http://www.showbuzz.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/10/06/movies/main2071659.shtml CBS News "ShowBUZZ": Terry Gilliam Sounds Off] , 2006-10-06] . In an interview with Tagesspiegel [http://www.tagesspiegel.de/kultur/;art772,2004101 oew/dpa/ddp (10 February 2006). Kopflos am Potsdamer Platz. "tagesspiegel"] (German, retrieved 15 September 2007)] he described the action as a protest against U.S. President George W. Bush, but in an earlier interview with The Onion AV Club [http://www.avclub.com/content/node/54008 AV Club interview] ] he also indicated that it was related to concerns about future tax liability for his wife and children. As a result of renouncing his citizenship, Gilliam is only permitted to spend 30 days per year in the United States, less than ordinary British citizens. Gilliam also maintains a residence in Italy near the Umbria-Tuscany border. He has been instrumental in establishing the annual Umbria Film Festival, [ [http://www.umbriafilmfestival.com/ Umbria Film Festival web site] ] held in the nearby hill town of Montone.


Monty Python

Gilliam was a part of "Monty Python's Flying Circus" from its formation, at first credited as an animator (his name was listed separately after the other five in the closing credits), later as a full member. His cartoons linked the show's sketches together, and defined the group's visual language in other media (such as LP and book covers, and the title sequences of their films).

Besides doing the animations, he also appeared in several sketches, though he rarely had any main roles and did considerably less acting in the sketches. Instead, he usually played parts that no one else wanted to play (generally because they required a lot of make-up or uncomfortable costumes, such as a recurring knight in armour who would end sketches by walking on and hitting one of the other characters over the head with a plucked chicken) and took a number of small roles in the films, including Patsy in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" and the jailer in "Life of Brian".


Terry Gilliam started his career as an animator and strip cartoonist; one of his early photographic strips for "Help!" featured future Python cast-member John Cleese. Moving to England, he animated features for "Do Not Adjust Your Set," which also featured future Pythons Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin.

Gilliam's surreal animations for "Monty Python" have a distinctive style. He mixed his own art, characterized by soft gradients and odd, bulbous shapes, with backgrounds and moving cutouts from antique photographs, mostly from the Victorian era.


Gilliam went on to become a motion picture writer and director.

His films are usually highly imaginative fantasies. Most of Gilliam's movies include plot-lines that seem to occur partly or completely in the characters' imaginations, raising questions about the definition of identity and sanity. He often shows his opposition to bureaucracy and authoritarian regimes. He also distinguishes "higher" and "lower" layers of society, with a disturbing and ironic style. His movies usually feature a fight or struggle against a great power which may be an emotional situation, a human-made idol, or even the person himself, and the situations do not always end happily. There is often a dark, paranoid atmosphere and unusual characters who formerly were normal members of society. His scripts feature black comedy and often end with a dark tragicomic twist.His films have a distinctive look, often recognizable from just a short clip; Roger Ebert has said "his world is always hallucinatory in its richness of detail." [ [http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050825/REVIEWS/50822002/1023 The Brothers Grimm Review] ] There is often a baroqueness about the movies, with, for instance, high-tech computer monitors equipped with low-tech magnifying lenses in "Brazil", and in "The Fisher King" a red knight covered with flapping bits of cloth. He also is given to incongruous juxtapositions of beauty and ugliness, or antique and modern. Most of his movies are shot almost entirely with extremely wide lenses of 28 mm focal length or less, and extremely deep focus.

Production problems

Gilliam has made a few extremely expensive movies beset with production problems. After the lengthy quarreling with Universal Studios over "Brazil", Gilliam's next picture, "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen", cost around US$46 million, [ [http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=adventuresofbaronmunchausen.htm Box Office Mojo] ] and then earned only about US$8 million in US ticket sales.

In the mid-1990s, Gilliam and Charles McKeown developed a script for "Time Bandits 2"; the project never came to be, as several of the original actors had died. He also attempted to direct a version of Charles Dickens "A Tale of Two Cities", which collapsed due to disagreements over its budget and choice of lead actor.

In 1999, Gilliam attempted to film "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote", budgeted at US$32.1 million, among the highest-budgeted films to use only European financing; but in the first week of shooting, the actor playing Don Quixote (Jean Rochefort) suffered a herniated disc, and a flood severely damaged the set. The film was canceled, resulting in an insurance claim worth US$15 million. Despite the cancellation, the story behind the whole production was filmed by a second crew hired by Gilliam to document the process. This production story was made into the documentary "Lost in La Mancha". In recent years, both Gilliam and the film's co-lead, Johnny Depp, have expressed interest in reviving the project. However, the insurance company involved in the failed first attempt withheld the rights to the screenplay for several years. [ [http://www.smart.co.uk/dreams/donqfact.htm Dreams: The Man Who Killed Don Quizote ] ] The production was finally restarted in 2008.

Gilliam has attempted twice to adapt Alan Moore's "Watchmen" comics into a film. Both attempts (in 1989 and 1996, respectively) were unsuccessful. Most recently, unforeseeable problems again befell a Gilliam project when actor Heath Ledger died in New York City during the filming of "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus".

Gilliam's reputation for production problems has been sufficient for the satirical newspaper "The Onion" to run a news article entitled "Terry Gilliam Barbecue Plagued By Production Delays." [ [http://www.theonion.com/content/node/32920 Terry Gilliam Barbecue Plagued By Production Delays | The Onion - America's Finest News Source ] ]

Gilliam has encounted some successes though. "The Fisher King" (1991) (his first film to not feature a member from Python) was nominated for five Academy Awards and "Twelve Monkeys" went on to take over US$168 million worldwide whilst "The Brothers Grimm", despite a mixed critical reception, grossed over US$105 million worldwide. However, according to Box Office Mojo, his films have grossed an average of $26,009,723.

Recurring actors in Gilliam-directed films

Gilliam has shown a propensity to work with particular actors in numerous productions. These include all of his fellow Monty Python alumni (Chapman, Cleese, Idle, Jones, and Palin), as well as Jeff Bridges, Johnny Depp, Katherine Helmond, Ian Holm, Michael Jeter, Simon Jones, Heath Ledger, Charles McKeown, Derrick O'Connor, Christopher Plummer, Jonathan Pryce, Jack Purvis, Peter Vaughan, Jim Broadbent, and Robin Williams.

Gilliam and Harry Potter

J. K. Rowling, author of the "Harry Potter" series, is a fan of Gilliam's work. Consequently, he was Rowling's first choice to direct "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" in 2000. Warner Brothers refused to consider Gilliam as director, instead selecting Chris Columbus for the job. [ [http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000416/bio IMDb: Biography for Terry Gilliam] . Accessed 2007-04-22.] Recently, Gilliam stated in relation to this episode, "I was the perfect guy to do Harry Potter. I remember leaving the meeting, getting in my car, and driving for about two hours along Mulholland Drive just so angry. I mean, Chris Columbus' versions are terrible. Just dull. Pedestrian." [ [http://www.wizardnews.com/story.20050829.html Terry Gilliam Bitter About Potter] ]

Despite the rumors, Gilliam has stated that he will never direct any Potter film. [ [http://www.contactmusic.com/new/xmlfeed.nsf/mndwebpages/gilliam%20vows%20never%20to%20direct%20harry%20potter Gilliam Vows Never To Direct Harry Potter] ]

The Secret Tournament

In 2002, Gilliam directed a series of television advertisements called "The Secret Tournament". [ [http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A776009 'The Secret Tournament' - the Nike World Cup 2002 Advert] ] The advertisements were part of Nike's World Cup campaign and featured a secret three-on-three tournament between the world's best players inside a huge tanker ship, with the Elvis Presley song "A Little Less Conversation" playing during the advertisements. The advertisements were hugely popular and critically acclaimed.

lava's Diabolo

In 2006, Gilliam directed the stage show "Slava's Diabolo", created and staged by Russian clown artist Slava Polunin. The show combines Polunin's clown style, characterized by deep non-verbal expression and interaction with the audience, with Gilliam's rich visuals and surrealistic imagery. The show premiered at the Noga hall of the Gesher theater in Jaffa, Israel.

Future projects

Gilliam has several projects in various states of development, including an adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett's comic fantasy novel "Good Omens"; Gilliam also has in mind for the leads Johnny Depp as Crowley and Robin Williams as Aziraphale.

In the near future, Gilliam may direct - or be involved in the production of - the animated band Gorillaz' movie, due out in 2008 or 2009. In a September 2006 interview with "Uncut" magazine, Damon Albarn was reported saying "... we're making a film. We've got Terry Gilliam involved."cite web | url = http://gorillaz-news.livejournal.com/169939.html#cutid1 | title = West London Calling | accessdate = 2006-10-11 | author = Williamson, Nigel | date = November 2006 issue, pg 88 | publisher = "Uncut" ] . However, in a more recent interview with Gorillaz-Unofficial, Jamie Hewlett, the co-creator of the band, stated that since the time of the previous interview, Damon's and his own fixation on the film had lessened.

After regaining the rights to the screenplay of "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote" Gilliam restarted pre-production in 2008, with Johnny Depp still attached to the project. [cite web | title = Pandora: Don Quixote rides again, says delighted Gilliam | author = Alica-Azania Jarvis | publisher = The Independent | date = 2008-08-04 | url = http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/columnists/pandora/pandora-don-quixote-rides-again-says-delighted-gilliam-884243.html | accessdate = 2008-08-04] The film will be reshot completely, and Rochefort's role will be recast. Michael Palin reportedly entered talks with Gilliam to step in for Rochefort and play Don Quixote. Main production start is planned for 2009. [cite web | title = Monty Python - Palin to act alongside Depp? | publisher = Contact Music | date = 2008-05-26 | url = http://www.contactmusic.com/news.nsf/article/palin%20to%20act%20alongside%20depp_1069633 | accessdate = 2008-07-25]

On 23 January 2007, Gilliam announced that he had been working on a new project with writing partner Charles McKeown. One day later, the fansite Dreams reported [ [http://www.smart.co.uk/dreams/parnfact.htm Dreams: The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus, a Terry Gilliam film ] ] that the new project was entitled "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus". On 3 October 2007, Dreams confirmed that Gilliam's next project will be "Imaginarium", slated to star Christopher Plummer and Tom Waits, [cite news
last = Stubbs
first = Phil
coauthors =
title = "The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus"
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = Dreams
date =
url = http://www.smart.co.uk/dreams/parnprev.htm
accessdate = 2007-10-10
] and scheduled for release in 2009. [cite news | author=Shawn Adler | url=http://moviesblog.mtv.com/2007/11/15/ledger-a-big-joker-when-it-comes-to-new-gilliam-film/ | title=Ledger A Big Joker When It Comes To New Gilliam Film | publisher=MTV | date=2007-11-15 | accessdate=2007-12-30 ] Production began in December 2007 in London. [cite news | author= | url=http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117975156.html?categoryid=1236&cs=1 | title=Gilliam, Ledger reteam for film | publisher=Variety | date=2007-10-31 | accessdate=2007-12-30 ]

On 22 January 2008, production of the film was disrupted following the death of Heath Ledger in New York City. "Variety" reports that Ledger's involvement had been a "key factor" in the film's financing.cite news | author=Adam Dawtrey |url=http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117979492.html?categoryid=13&cs=1 |title='Parnassus' team faces dilemma | publisher=Variety | date =2008-01-23 | accessdate=2008-01-23 ] Although production was suspended indefinitely by January 24,cite news | author=Christine Kilpatrick | url=http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20173511,00.html | title=Production Suspended on Heath Ledger's Latest Movie | publisher=People | date=2008-01-24 | accessdate=2008-01-24 ] Gilliam has now completed principal photography, the major task now being the completion of the visual effects. The director has stated his intention to dedicate the film to Ledger.cite news | author=Natasha Stoynoff | url=http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20174404,00.html | title=Show Will Go On for Heath's Last Movie, Says Costar | publisher=People | date=2008-01-28 | accessdate=2008-01-28 ] In February 2008 actors Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell reportedly signed on to continue Ledger's role, transforming into multiple incarnations of his character in the "magical" world of the film. [cite news | author="Moriarty" | url=http://www.aintitcool.com/node/35623 | title=AICN EXCLUSIVE! We Know Who’s Paying Tribute To Heath Ledger In DR. PARNASSUS Now! | publisher="Ain't It Cool News" | date=2008-02-15 | accessdate=2008-02-17 | quote = ...we’re going to see Heath Ledger’s work in Terry Gilliam’s new film, and that we’re also going to see three very interesting actors step up to offer interpretations of him...now we’ve got the names verified... JOHNNY DEPP. ... JUDE LAW. ... COLIN FARRELL.] [cite news | author = Shawn Adler | title = Heath Ledger's Final Film To Go Forward - With Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Colin Farrell in His Role | publisher = MTV | url = http://www.mtv.ca/news/article.jhtml?id=7086 | date = 2008-02-15 | accessdate = 2008-02-15 | quote = Report: The three actors have signed on to complete film. ... Heath Ledger died last month at the age of 28, but his final performance will live on - thanks to a little creativity and some famous friends. ... Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell have all signed on to film scenes as Ledger's character in Terry Gilliam's 'The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus,' a magical re-telling of the Faust story, according to Aintitcoolnews.com. The announcement serves as a tribute to the man many have called one of the best actors of his generation.]


*"Storytime" (1968) (animated short)
*"The Miracle Of Flight" (1974) (animated short)
*"Monty Python and the Holy Grail" (1975) (co-directed with Terry Jones)
*"Jabberwocky" (1977)
*"Time Bandits" (1981)
*"The Crimson Permanent Assurance" (1983) (a short supporting feature that accompanied "Monty Python's The Meaning of Life")
*"Brazil" (1985)
*"The Adventures of Baron Munchausen" (1988)
*"The Fisher King" (1991)
*"Twelve Monkeys" (1995) (inspired by Chris Marker's "La Jetée").
*"Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" (1998)
*"The Brothers Grimm" (2005)
*"Tideland" (2005)
*"The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" (2009)
*"The Man Who Killed Don Quixote" (in production; 2010 – tentative)

Awards, Nominations & Honors

*"Brazil" (1985)
**Los Angeles Film Critics Association Best film, director, and screenplay
*"The Fisher King" (1991)
**Venice Film Festival Silver Lion Winner
**Toronto Film Festival People's Choice Award Winner
*"Twelve Monkeys" (1995)
**Berlin Film Festival Reader Jury of the "Berliner Morgenpost" - 3rd Place
*"Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" (1998)
**Cannes Film Festival Official Selection
*"The Brothers Grimm" (2005)
**Venice Film Festival Official Selection
*"Tideland" (2005)
**San Sebastian Festival Winner of the FIPRESCI Prize [ [http://www.fipresci.org/awards/awards/awards_2005.htm 2005 FIPRESCI] ]
* An asteroid, 9619 Terrygilliam, is named in his honor.



* Gilliam, Terry and Christie, Ian (Ed.) (1999). "Gilliam On Gilliam". Faber & Faber. ISBN 0-571-19190-8
* McCabe, Bob (1999). "Dark Knights And Holy Fools: The Art And Films of Terry Gilliam". Diane Pub Co. ISBN 078930290X
*"From Fringe To Flying Circus: Celebrating A Unique Generation Of Comedy, 1960-1980" - Roger Wilmut, Eyre Methuen Ltd, 1980.

External links

*imdb name|0000416|Terry Gilliam
* [http://www.smart.co.uk/dreams/home.htm Dreams - exclusive interviews with Gilliam and coverage of his films]
* [http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/directors/03/gilliam.html Senses of Cinema: Terry Gilliam]
* [http://members.aol.com/morgands1/closeup/indices/gillindx.htm The Terry Gilliam Files - Interviews and behind-the-scenes production stories]
* [http://www.alt-flix.co.uk/direcgui/terrygill.htm Extensive Terry Gilliam Filmography and Biography]
* [http://www.theonion.com/content/node/32920 The Onion: Terry Gilliam Barbecue Plagued By Production Delays]
* [http://www.gerardcourant.com/projection.php?t=c&film=601 Terry Gilliam's Cinématon. A 4 minutes portrait by Gérard Courant] ;Interviews
* [http://www.avclub.com/content/node/23192 Onion A.V. Club Interview (05/1998)]
* [http://www.avclub.com/content/node/22595 Onion A.V. Club Interview (02/2003)]
* [http://www.avclub.com/content/node/54008 Onion A.V. Club Interview (10/2006)]
* [http://www.badmouth.net/interview-terry-gilliam/ Interview: Terry Gilliam] (Badmouth.net)
* [http://filmforce.ign.com/articles/035/035923p1.html IGN's Four Part interview with Gilliam]
* [http://www.salon.com/ent/movies/int/1998/06/05int.html Salon Interview (06/1998)]
* [http://www.kayotix.com/tmp/newsfeeds/11.08.06/terrygilliam/ Terry Gilliam video interview, BBC Hardtalk Extra]
* [http://www.tcj.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=36&Itemid=48 Excerpt of interview from] "The Comics Journal" - November 1995

NAME=Gilliam, Terry Vance
SHORT DESCRIPTION=American film director, animator and actor
DATE OF BIRTH=22 November 1940
PLACE OF BIRTH=Medicine Lake, Minnesota, U.S.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Terry Gilliam — auf der Comic Con International 2009 Terry Vance Gilliam (* 22. November 1940 in Medicine Lake, Minnesota) ist ein aus den USA stammender Filmregisseur, Drehbuchautor und Schauspieler mit britischer Staatsangehörigke …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Terry Gilliam — au 36ème Festival du cinéma américain de Deauville 2010 Données clés Nom de naissance …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Terry Gilliam — En el Festival Internacional de Cine de Cannes (2001). Nombre real Terrence Vance Gilliam Nacimiento 22 de noviembre de …   Wikipedia Español

  • Terry Gilliam — Miembro del grupo humorístico Monty Python. Terry Vance Gilliam nació el 22 de noviembre de 1940 en Medicine Lake, Minesotta, en los Estados Unidos y estudió Ciencias Políticas el Colegio Occidental de California. Más conocido por las animaciones …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Terry Vance Gilliam — (* 22. November 1940 in Medicine Lake, Minnesota, USA) ist ein Filmregisseur, Drehbuchautor und Schauspieler. 1968 nahm er zusätzlich zur US amerikanischen auch die britische Staatsbürgerschaft an. Im Januar 2006 gab er aus Protest gegen die… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Gilliam — Terry Gilliam Terry Gilliam Terry Gilliam au festival de Cannes 2001 Nom de naissance Terry Vance Gilliam Naissance …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Terry Pratchett — en 2009. Nom de naissance Terence David John Pratchett Activités …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Terry Jones (Komiker) — Terry Jones (2007) Terry Jones (eigentlich Terence Graham Parry Jones; * 1. Februar 1942 in Colwyn Bay) ist ein walisischer Komiker, Filmregisseur und Schriftsteller. Er wurde bekannt als Mitglied der Gruppe Monty Python, der er von 1969 bis 1983 …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Gilliam — may refer to:People with the surname Gilliam (a variant of the name William): * Terry Gilliam, film director and member of the Monty Python comedy troupe * Michelle Phillips (born Holly Michelle Gilliam), American singer and actress * John… …   Wikipedia

  • Terry Jones — Terry Jones, el 5 de mayo de 2007. Terry Jones nació el 1 de febrero de 1942 en la Bahía de Colwyn, en el norte del Gales (es uno de los dos miembros Monty Python no ingleses, junto con Terry Gilliam). Realizó estudios de inglés en la Universidad …   Wikipedia Español

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.