The initial buzz at the Terry Gilliam panel at Comic-Con last week centered on Heath Ledger and his final movie role as Tony in Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus. “People want to see Heath’s last performance,” said Gilliam, “That is why we finished [the film].”
Gilliam also seemed eager though to move on to a broader discussion of the movie, saying, “The picture is really Parnassus’s picture.” In the movie, Dr. Parnassus (Christopher Plummer) is a Methusulan entertainer who has made a deal with the devil (Tom Waits!) that requires him to hand over his daughter on her sixteenth birthday.
It isn’t a stretch to see Parnassus as a stand-in for the director himself, a visionary who has had a famously difficult time working with Hollywood to get his films produced. Gilliam seemed to encourage that line of thinking. “[Parnassus] is a man with a traveling show trying to get people to explore their imagination and no one is paying attention.”