Heath Ledger in "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus"."The Imaginarius of Doctor Parnassus" UK Poster.
"Imaginarium" is also perhaps the most anticipated film of the festival because it's the one Heath Ledger was working on when he died in January 2008, the one that ends with the on-screen credit "A Film From Heath Ledger and Friends" because colleagues Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell pitched in to finish it.
Gilliam, who co-wrote the script with Charles McKeown, described the film as "my 'Fanny & Alexander', my 'Amarcord.' I went back to the things I'm really good at."Ledger's character, Tony, is a hustler of uncertain morality who joins the show, in one of the film's many unsettling references to death, after he is nearly hung. Ledger, who had worked with Gilliam in "The Brothers Grimm," was watching the director explain some storyboards when, "in the middle of this, he slipped me a note that read: 'Can I play Tony?' ""People don't know how brilliant he was. He was limitless. Anything you threw at him he could handle," Gilliam says of the actor, still not resigned to his death. "When we heard, my first response was that it was a P.R. stunt for his role as the Joker. [His death] didn't make any sense. Even now it doesn't compute."The first call Gilliam made was to Depp "because Johnny's a mate, direct and genuine. He loved Heath, and he said, 'I'm in, whatever.' " Then the problem became getting schedules to mesh. "Then Michael Mann's film ('Public Enemy') was delayed a week. I don't think Johnny told Michael he was going. My guess is that he snuck out."
Gilliam likes to joke, if asked what the film is about, that "it's about making marketing people work very hard," and he worries that being smart and entertaining in a dumbed-down world is going against the grain. "People are smart if you get their attention the right way," he says. As one of his characters puts it, "this world is full of enchantment for those with eyes to see." Source: www.calendarlive.com