It Takes Three to Fill Ledger's Shoes in Dr. Parnassus
Following Heath Ledger's shocking and untimely death, all sorts of questions popped up, an important one among them, "What will happen to Terry Gilliam's The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus?" since Ledger was in the midst of filming. No small question, to be sure, since Gilliam's $30 million production is now without a lead. News comes today via AICN that a substitute has been selected. Well… three, in fact. Interestingly, Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell will all play a part in completing Ledger's original role.
We brought you some of the details back in January when speculation started churning that Johnny Depp might step in and complete the film. Introducing a completely new actor for the same role sounds risky, but is actually very possible given a particular point in the plot. Ledger's character falls through a magic mirror four times throughout the film, making this whole setup very, very cool.
In addition to this being Ledger's last work, it's truly fascinating to see Depp, Law and Farrell all step in, giving their interpretation of the character Ledger crafted and paying tribute to one of the greatest actors - very ala the Bob Dylan biopic I'm Not There. The result seems like it'll make for a wonderful yet truly tragic film.
The news is especially exciting since Gilliam is not going to finish the movie with some questionable approach like CGI, as was earlier speculated by co-star Christopher Plummer. It seemed to work out for The Crow when Brandon Lee died after being accidentally shot on set. But Imaginarium is too young in production to really pull off such an involved façade. The device of the magic mirror and the use of other the actors is sadly poetic.
Imaginarium is slated for release sometime in 2009 and looks to be one of Gilliam's better projects. His most recent Tideland and The Brother's Grimm - which starred Ledger opposite Matt Damon, in fact - were both duds. However, with the complexity and tragedy surrounding Ledger's original role, and what looks to be some very interesting visuals - we brought you the first photo from the set last week - I'm definitely looking forward to this one.
One thing I'm curious about his how the three came to be chosen. Depp seems a natural pick, but Law and Farrell don't seem as nimble and convoluted an actor as Ledger. What we do know is that the sum of the three will do their best to fill the void left by the young actor, a responsibility that should invoke some of their best performances yet.