Terry Gilliam Visits a Video Store & Talks About His Favorite Movies and Actors

Let­ting a beloved film direc­tor wan­der through the aisles of a well-stocked video store feels like such guar­an­teed YouTube fod­der that it’s a sur­prise it real­ly hasn’t been done until recent­ly. But then I remind myself that the video store itself is a thing of the past, and to see one so well stocked, Library of Alexan­dria style, is news itself. For the above video, the direc­tor brows­ing the DVDs is none oth­er than mad­cap genius Ter­ry Gilliam. The video store is Paris’ JM Video. The chat as expect­ed is mar­velous. (Only 20 min­utes? I’m sure many of us could lis­ten to Gilliam rab­bit on about his favorite films for twice, thrice that.)

Along the way, here are some things we learn:

  • Some of his favorite film­mak­ers are Stan­ley Kubrick, Lina Wert­muller, Fed­eri­co Felli­ni, and one of his cur­rent friends, Albert Dupon­tel, the French actor-direc­tor who has used Gilliam in sev­er­al of his films.
  • He is thanked in the cred­its of Tarantino’s Reser­voir Dogs. Why? Because when Taran­ti­no was at the Sun­dance Insti­tute with his script, it was only Gilliam who imme­di­ate­ly saw the bril­liant screen­play for what it was, and encour­aged Taran­ti­no to stay true to him­self.
  • He’s not a fan of Die Hard, but it was the scene where Bruce Willis talks to his wife while pick­ing glass shards out of his foot that revealed a vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty in the actor. It led to Gilliam cast­ing Bruce Willis in 12 Mon­keys. Sim­i­lar­ly, he was able to work with Brad Pitt and get him to flip his cool and hand­some demeanor on its head for the man­ic co-star­ring role.
  • Gilliam stole the idea of mul­ti­ple actors play­ing the same title char­ac­ter in The Imag­i­nar­i­um of Doc­tor Par­nas­sus (after lead actor Heath Ledger died dur­ing shoot­ing) from Luis Buñuel’s
    That Obscure Object of Desire. In that film, two women play the same char­ac­ter inter­change­ably. If it’s good enough for Buñuel…
  • Eisenstein’s Ivan the Ter­ri­ble (parts one and two) is a “dan­ger­ous” film, because it was one of Putin’s most watched movies. (Not that we should stop watch­ing Eisen­stein.) Gilliam’s way of pro­nounc­ing Putin as “pou­tine” is inten­tion­al, no?
  • Being a fan of Mon­ty Python was a good way of get­ting cast in a Gilliam film. The direc­tor knows he would have not worked with Sean Con­nery (in Time Ban­dits) or Robert DeNiro (in Brazil) if both didn’t know his work on the clas­sic com­e­dy. (It also helps to have pro­duc­ers who go golf­ing with A‑list actors.)
  • He diss­es Christo­pher Nolan (“tech­ni­cal­ly bril­liant” but then “the films become video games” with “no grav­i­ty”), and repeats a swipe against Spielberg’s Schindler’s List that he heard from Kubrick. (“It’s a film about suc­cess.”)
  • He imag­ines a bet­ter clos­ing edit to Close Encoun­ters that ends upon see­ing the legs of the alien as the hatch opens. Then we would have had some­thing to talk about on the way home, he says.

There’s anoth­er video in the series fea­tur­ing David Cro­nen­berg, along with vis­its from Michael Bay, Asghar Farha­di, Audrey Diwan, Dario Argen­to, and many more.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Ter­ry Gilliam Reveals the Secrets of Mon­ty Python Ani­ma­tions: A 1974 How-To Guide

Ter­ry Gilliam on the Dif­fer­ence Between Kubrick & Spiel­berg: Kubrick Makes You Think, Spiel­berg Wraps Every­thing Up with Neat Lit­tle Bows

Ter­ry Gilliam Explains His Nev­er-End­ing Fas­ci­na­tion with Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus”

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the Notes from the Shed pod­cast and is the pro­duc­er of KCR­W’s Curi­ous Coast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, and/or watch his films here.

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