Before moderator Ken Plume introduced Terry Gilliam, he asked for the house lights to be brought down for a screening of the trailer to Gilliam’s new film, The Zero Theorem. The film is currently available on video on demand, but it will also be available in select theaters on September 19.
Before the Q&A started, Plume spent some time talking with Gilliam about his films, including Brazil, 12 Monkeys, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The still-unfinished Don Quixote movie (which was the subject of a documentary called Lost in La Mancha) was also frequently discussed. At one point, Gilliam said that rooting for the existence of the Don Quixote movie is “just a foolish quest like all quests are ultimately.”
Plume spent some time asking Gilliam about The Zero Theorem. Gilliam described the world of the film as fun, but there’s one guy who isn’t having any fun, and that’s the main character, Qohen. He went on to say that the world might be an infantile place, perhaps a place where no one is doing a lot of thinking, but Qohen goes out of his way to avoid any kind of escapism. The character makes his home in a burnt-out church and seems to be waiting for a call to tell him the meaning of his life.
Gilliam said, “You start making a film like this, you start becoming like the character. Then I find myself trapped in my house, staring at my computer screen, doing endless things again and again and again, trapped in this sea of information that distracts me from life itself. And then I have to come to Dragon Con to sort of appreciate life again.”
As one might expect, this declaration was met with cheers and applause. Gilliam went on to describe Dragon Con as “color, magic, fantasy, silly people.”
As Plume finished with his portion of the Q&A, Gilliam moved his chair to the end of the stage and sat down so he could look audience members in the eye as they asked their questions. It was interesting to see Gilliam offer each attendee that personal moment.
The questions from the audience focused mostly on Gilliam’s movies, but of course there were questions about his time with Monty Python as well, including the recent live show in London. Gilliam announced that the show will be released on DVD at some point.
One audience member asked if Gilliam would tell a story about Robin Williams from when Gilliam directed The Fisher King. He responded with a story about one night when the film had to move locations because of weather. Everyone, the whole cast and crew, was dragging, and Williams chose that moment to start goofing around, cracking jokes and making comments. It took a moment for Gilliam to realize, but it soon became obvious that Williams had a riff about every single person in the crew. It was 45 minutes of blissfulness and enabled everyone to finish filming on a high. “That’s just who Robin was.”
Terry Gilliam can be followed on Facebook and @terrygilliam on Twitter.