When production on The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus was halted by the sudden passing of Heath Ledger, shooting continued only when Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell signed on. For the first time, they speak about out about the film, their admiration for Ledger and director Terry Gilliam, and their devotion to ensuring Ledger’s final performance be shared with audiences and fans alike. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus opens Christmas Day.
“Maestro Gilliam has made a sublime film. Wonderfully enchanting and beautiful, ‘The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus’ is a uniquely ingenious, captivating creation; by turns wild, thrilling and hilarious in all its crazed, dilapidated majesty. Pure Gilliam magic!!! It was an honor to represent Heath. He was the only player out there breathing heavy down the back of every established actors neck with a thundering and ungovernable talent that came up on you quick, hissing rather mischievously with that cheeky grin, “hey… get on out of my way boys, I’m coming through…” and does he ever!!! Heath is a marvel, Christopher Plummer beyond anything he’s ever done, Waits as the Devil is a God, Lily Cole and Andrew Garfield, the very foundation, are spectacular, Verne Troyer simply kicks ass and as for my other cohorts, Colin Farrell and Jude Law, they most certainly did Master Ledger very proud, I salute them. Though the circumstances of my involvement are extremely heart-rending and unbelievably sad, I feel privileged to have been asked aboard to stand in on behalf of dear Heath.”
“I have always loved Terry Gilliam’s films. Their heart, their soul, their mind, always inventive, touching, funny and relevant. When I got the call, it was a double tug. I liked Heath very much as a man and admired him as an actor. To help finish his final piece of work was a tribute I felt compelled to make. To help Terry finish his film was an honour paid to a man I adore. I had a great time on the job. Though we were all there in remembrance, Heath’s heart pushed us with great lightness to the finish.”
“It’s not hard for me to imagine that if I ever look back on the films I’ve been a part of, and the stories I’ve had a hand in telling, one will stand out as so unique an experience, as to be incomparable. This experience was the shooting of ‘The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus’. The reasons for its uniqueness, sadly, are probably obvious to anyone who reads this. Three of us had been asked to complete a task that had been set in motion by a man we greatly liked and respected as both a person and an artist. Being part of this film was never about filling Heath’s shoes as much as seeing them across the finish line. How I wish he had brought the film to its completion himself. Of course the whole crew felt this way. And the cast that we joined felt it too. It was this spirit of grieving the loss of Heath, that Johnny and Jude and I joined. But there was also a sense of dogged insistence. Insistence that Heaths last piece of work should not be kept in the shadow of the light of day. More than anything though – more than the sadness and shock, the vulnerability and un-suredness as to whether it was right to complete the film or not – was an incredible sense of love. A community of people, caterers and actors, electricians and make up artists had been brought together in a recognized sense of love and obligation, for and to, one of cinemas finest actors and most generous of men. It will be this sense of love amidst the sadness I will remember most. Such a gift and an honor, from Heath, to be a part of the trail that he left behind. RIP Heath Ledger x”