Posted on Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008 by Hunter Stephenson
If anyone remains unsure, Heath Ledger‘s filming and voice work on The Dark Knight were completed before his unfortunate death yesterday (click here for latest updates). However, it would seem that the status of his last film, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, which marked his second collaboration with director Terry Gilliam following 2005’s The Brothers Grimm, is in jeopardy. Variety reports that the film had recently finished up its London leg of the shoot and had moved on to Vancouver to continue filming before the incident stunned the world. Producers of the $30 million indie film have not yet issued a statement regarding how Ledger’s death will impact production. Whether the role will be recast and whether the film can even proceed are not known.
Seeing that Ledger was the film’s largest star, with a sizable lead on co-stars Christopher Plummer and Tom Waits in terms of name recognition, this is detrimental. His casting was pivotal to the financing of the project. As most of us know, Gilliam’s films and almost-films have a long history of unfortunate events, budget issues and creative conflicts that put his latest films’ box office prospects on shaky ground. This was all painfully exemplified in the 2002 documentary Lost in La Mancha, which chronicled the downward spiral of Gilliam’s never completed $35 million The Man Who Killed Don Quixote with Johnny Depp in the lead. The final nail in that film’s coffin was the illness of star Jean Rochefort.
Doctor Parnassus follows an ancient traveling theater company “which arrives in modern London with a magical mirror that can transport its audience into fantastical realms of the imagination.” Plummer plays the title doctor, while Ledger’s role is that of an outsider who must fend off the devil in order to rescue the doc’s daughter, played by Lily Cole.
The trade also reports that Ledger was gearing up for his directorial debut, an adaptation of the 1983 Walter Tevis novel The Queen’s Gambit, about a female chess prodigy, rumored to star Juno phenom Ellen Page.